The sales trainer Grant Cardone says that to be successful in sales, you have to stick to the following steps:
- Show up early
- Stay late
- Have 10 deals working for every deal you want
- Spend zero time crying about how unfair the world is
I think this makes the job sound very busy and not much fun but I agree with the essence of it: done well, a sales job is a busy job that requires a lot of resilience, organisational skills and focus.
This is all very well but from your perspective, as a business owner or sales manager, it makes it very hard to keep track of what your sales people are actually doing. Taking into account ever growing sales targets, this situation can quickly become a real issue. This feeling of lack of control is a typical one and there are a few key contributors to it:
- A sales job requires many interactions such as networking, seminars and customer meetings so sales people are often out of the office
- Sales are ultimately measured by success. This gives some sales people the impression that they are able to do what they want as long as they deliver results
- You often manage your sales team through KPIs but these are activity based, which is only a part of the picture
- Sales data is summarised in pipelines but, as a manager, you have little knowledge of each deal other than what your sales people tell you
Solving this issue is not easy and often this escalating situation ends up in employment termination, which is both disruptive and expensive. So, what can you do to tackle this in a productive way?
- Trust is really important. Most sales people, especially good ones, don’t like or need excessive control. If you are not able to create trust with your sales person it probably means that you should not employ them. Before you rush to conclusions, try and ask yourself whose problem it actually is, yours or theirs?
- Make sure the team is clear on your vision for success. By that, I don’t just mean that you define and communicate it. Make sure they buy into it themselves and you are all clear on how you go about achieving it. The last thing you want are people paying lip service and then saying stuff like ‘Pie in the sky’ behind your back.
- Set KPIs that cover the culture as well as activities. This means that the team is clear on how they are expected to behave as well as the activities they need to complete. A good way to have everyone comply is to ask the team to set the indicators themselves. Then they cannot blame you when they underperform.
- Don’t depend solely on your team for information. This does not mean you don’t trust them, just that you understand that they sometimes get too close to a deal to admit it’s dead. Call prospects and customers yourself and go to joint meetings
- Support and nurture your sales people. Let’s face it, you need them to grow the business. Most sales people work hard and want to do well so your support will make a difference to the bottom line. Note that your support and nurturing should come as a part of your management process and not instead of it.
One of the key ways to support your sales team and focus them is to take away some of their essential but non-urgent workload. An example of this is lead nurturing, which can take some time and patience and is better handled by specialist staff. If you lack resources, we offer an outsource service covering lead nurturing. You can read more about it here.
Get in touch if you want to speak further and share any helpful experience you have had with your sales people.