Sales Managers: 5 best practices to boost your numbers!

I know what you’re thinking: what could be new or different? What more can I possibly do?LindaKern_Feb14_038 (3 resized)

I hear you, I’ve seen it. I know you sales managers are maxed out. Doing whatever you can to help your sales people succeed.

But – and this is a big butt (hahaha!) – sales managers often do the wrong things. Or just not enough of the right things. Below, the most common activities I see that do not tend to improve results:

  • Telling your sales people what to do
  • Doing the work yourself
  • Investing too much time in:
    • admin
    • putting out fires
    • dealing with plant / warehouse / operations / service
  • Pushing your people to get more business

So! Have I just freed up your day and your month? Here’s where to invest it – the five actions proven most effective in driving up your numbers:

  1. Measure activity. Measure results.

Measure activity Measuring and monitoring raises performance, you know that, or you should! But how do you know which activities pay off best? Guess what? Over years of training, I’ve found that your team is the best resource. Decide as a group which activity measures you’ll monitor – it’s a team-building exercise; it creates buy-in; and best of all – it works!

Measure results Measure year-to-date sales on a frequent and regular basis (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) so that your sales people know how much they have left to sell in the quarter/year. You also want to measure pipeline/funnel value (the total value of active opportunities), as well as new business sales meetings. Keep those numbers front and centre in your people’s minds.

  1. Hold your team accountable

Now you’ve decided on your metrics. Next step? Track them. On a regular basis.

And how regular is that?

That depends on the sales cycle of the product/service you are selling.

  • If you sell promotional products, the sales cycle could be as short as 2 weeks. And it’s unlikely to be longer than two months.
  • If you sell SaaS solutions, which may need to be integrated into an existing system, it’s likely you need several months to make a sale.
  • If you sell engines or airplanes? It could take you several years to make a sale.

So! Measure and follow up on your metrics on the frequency basis that matches your sales cycle.

  1. Dive into the funnel, in-person

Talk to your sales people in detail about the active opportunities they have. Ask them:

  • When is the next active step booked in your and your prospect’s calendar to advance this sale?
  • How did the last meeting end? What is the prospective customer expecting?
  • What is your next step? What do you need to do to prepare for the next meeting?
  • Would you have done anything differently on this deal in hindsight?
  • What, if any, are the obstacles you face in closing this deal?
  • What about competition?
  • How can I help you move this forward?

It’s amazing how powerful this technique is – a regular structured touch-base with each team member. Note – structure is key! Don’t discuss in general, keep to the questions above!

  1. Help your peeps prepare for meetings

You now know when the big meetings are coming up for your team; you’ve just reviewed those deals in their pipeline.

As the next big one is coming, sit down with your sales person a few hours before and help them prepare. Take them through the meeting in 7 steps – ask them :

  1. What is your objective? In other words, what do you want to have happen at the end of this meeting?
  2. How are you planning to open the meeting and lay out the agenda?
  3. What questions have you prepared to engage the prospect (which will depend on the step of the sales cycle they are in)?
  4. What will you do if the prospect throws a lot of information at you and you can’t keep up?
  5. What should you do if you lose focus in the meeting or don’t understand the prospect?
  6. How will you explain how you might be able to help this prospect’s company?
  7. What is your plan to advance the sale and get a next step?

You are their best ally, resource, and partner to help them succeed.

  1. Remove roadblocks/take suggestions

When sales people complain that they can’t make a sale because there are roadblocks in their way … suspend judgment!

  • Listen carefully to what they’re saying, and more importantly, how they are saying it.
  • Do they sound like excuses, or are they legitimate reasons?
  • Is it just one person, or is your whole team finding the same problems?

I can tell you from personal experience – I had to work hard to learn not to judge! After all, I’ve been successful in sales for years, with many perceived roadblocks in my way. I just blast through and don’t let anyone hamper my success.

But! Not everyone is like that. Some sales people need to be supported or nurtured to be successful. They need to know you’re on their side; it enables them to achieve and surpass their own personal sales goals. And if they need that? You give it!

So get out there and find ways to make it easy for your people to sell. Fix your website. Update your marketing brochures. And certainly, tackle any problems your company may have with after-sales service.

Then stick to these five simple strategies and I promise you, you’ll see results. If you need help call us at 416-520-4897 or send an email to linda@lindakernassociates.com.