Three More Sales Management Traps
Three More Sales Management Traps
It’s easy to fall into the more common sales management traps. Managing a sales force is incredibly demanding. Not only are you responsible for the salespeople who report to you, but you probably have multiple other responsibilities within the organization. As Murphy’s Law says, stuff happens. It tends to happen less often if you avoid the following three traps.
Trap 1. Not setting clear expectations. Your salespeople know what’s expected of them, right? Not necessarily true. You may think that each one of them knows exactly what their role is, but you could be wrong. Then you’re having the, “but I didn’t know I was supposed to do that” conversation. It’s far better to set clear expectations up front. I like to set expectations in three distinct areas:
- Set expectations for results. This is usually for the numbers. It can include a sales quota of total dollars. It can also be broken down by dollars by category or by item. It can be distribution goals and/or it can be a share of market objective. This is the most visible. You can be sure if you don’t see those numbers every day, the president or CFO will.
- Set expectations for activities. This requires a little more work and detail. For each salesperson, determine how much activity it takes on average to close one sale. Factor in initial calls and follow up calls … everything it takes from start to finish to complete the sale. Then multiply that number by the number of sales needed daily, weekly or monthly, whatever your reporting period might be. The number will vary slightly by salesperson.
Everybody has a different closing ratio and that doesn’t really matter. What matters is making enough calls consistently to achieve the desired results.
- Set expectations for behaviors. Behaviors are what your salesperson says and how he acts in front of the customer. Basically it’s your sales process … the stuff you teach them and practice over and over again. You provide them with a sales process and an outline, they put their own personality into it, but, they must use the process. Be very clear about the process.
Trap 2. Not tracking activities and behaviors. Almost everybody tracks results. You must also track the activities and the behaviors that lead to those results. By the time the results happen, it’s too late to do anything about them. They are history. They’re done, over, toast.
When you have set the right expectations for activities and then track those activities, you can be pretty sure that your salespeople will achieve their goals.
If your salespeople are making enough calls on qualified prospects and they’re still not making their numbers, you have to look at their behaviors.
What do their sales calls look like? Are they using your sales process the way it’s supposed to be used? The only way you can determine this is by working with them. Make frequent sales calls with them or listen in on their phone calls and then debriefing those calls. Gradually they’ll get better and better.
Trap 3. Not staying on top of the pipeline. Almost all sales managers keep an eye on the pipeline. The problem is they don’t really stay on top of it. What’s really in there? Is there stuff in the pipeline that’s been there so long its grown hair? Or maybe some kind of fungus?
You must frequently review your salespeople’s pipelines. Ask questions about every item in it. What’s happening here? What’s the next step? When will that take place? What’s holding up the process? What happens next? What can I do to help?
That way you’ll get rid of the ghosts and get a feel for what’s really happening, instead of getting suckered into a fantasy world.
Oliver Connolly helps sales managers develop a sales force that consistently overachieves. For more information please go to http://www.clevelstrategic.com