Similar to a coach who has to give a speech to the team that is down 20 points, what is the best way to ensure your sales reps pick up their game after a lackluster quarter?
Here are seven tools that will help put your sales reps in a position to succeed:
- Communicate the importance of the target to the team. While the reasons for hitting sales targets may be obvious to every senior manager in the company, sales reps may be too focused on their own day-to-day activities to see the forest through the trees. Even if the team has heard the message 50 times, it literally pays to keep reinforcing the message.
- Distinguish an excuse from a real issue. When a salesperson is struggling, he may make excuses. But there could be a real issue standing in his way. It is important for senior leaders to listen to employee concerns and do their part to fix any macro problems that could be hampering their staff. If the determination is that no major roadblock exists and the sales rep is still struggling, it may be time to have an honest chat about the company’s expectations and see if there needs to be a change.
- Monitor activity volumes. While some people possess an “it” factor, in most cases, sales success is simply a numbers game: Make 50 calls to line up 10 meetings and make five sales. If a sales rep is struggling, find out if the number of calls, meetings and proposals he is making are in line with typical ratios required to hit targets. If not, this is probably why he is struggling and it is time to remind him to pick up the pace.
- Track the deal slide. Take a look at what percentage of forecast deals are sliding into the next quarter. Often times, a rep will put a deal on the backburner because he believes there are other low-hanging fruits out there. Since time often kills deals, it is up to the manager to figure out why deals keep slipping and offer clear guidance and support to help the rep close before the quarter is up.
- Focus on the target and ask tough questions. Effective sales managers ask their reps tough questions to determine if they are on track to hit their quotas. By consistently qualifying and validating a rep’s pipeline size, in addition to emphasizing the right selling tasks and behaviors that will enable him to achieve his target, the sales rep will be able to keep his eye on the prize.
- Don’t let anyone quit. It is somewhat common for people to quit if they feel there is no way they will make their numbers this quarter. Sales leaders should watch for defeatist attitudes and focus on motivating those reps to keep pushing to close deals. Remind them that there is still plenty of time, that they are only one big deal away and that they should continue to prospect and good things will happen. If the sales reps consistently quits, it is time for a change.
- Find ways to have fun: There is an old sales saying to “smile through the phone.” Whether selling in person, on the phone, or via Twitter, remember to always encourage your team to have fun. Use friendly competitions and organize team-building events since clients and prospects will be drawn to the positive energy, which usually leads to more sales.
By Eliot Burdett
Co-Founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting