You’ve just been assigned to a new role – you’re the new Sales Executive of a profitable enterprise and you’ve got a team that’s not on target or quota. Sales are slipping. The team is discouraged and miserable; and, to add insult to injury, your best sales rep resigned last week and two more are off sick. What’s been going on here? You feel hopeless and haven’t got a game plan to lift the team out of their rut.
First, don’t panic. Most sales execs have faced these issues, and the successful ones end up showing real leadership to their teams.
Take a look at these small tweaks that show how really working with your sales force can have a positive impact their performance.
1. Gather all data about your sales team and the market
Many sales execs dive head-first into sending memos telling sales reps to work harder, longer and see more customers. While increased sales is the end result you want, to be successful you need to do your homework about your predecessor’s habits, the attitudes of the sales force and the overall sales process within the company. Is the downward trend recent? What’s happening in the market? How are customers responding? Is the same thing happening company-wide, or is it just your sales team?
Pull together information about the overall climate within the organization as well as the market. Understanding why morale is low and why there is a downward trend in sales is the first step to solving the problem. Then you need to involve the team in finding the solution.
2. Consistently touch base with your sales team
Great! You’ve discovered what you need to know about HOW your team got to where it is, and now it’s time to work with your team. Many sales execs simply delegate; but the ones who become part of the team are the ones who succeed. Do they have clear goals? Are they forecasting? Are they honing their skills and where do they need to improve?
Sales reps love to be successful and do well. The magic happens when they see someone enthusiastic enough to become involved in helping them achieve their goals. A good sales exec is consistently helping and touching base with the team while watching over everyone to ensure they are being supported. Know what’s important to your team and work with them to achieve real success.
3. Engage with your sales team
The “I talk you listen” approach doesn’t cut it (and has really never worked). Instead, it bogs the team down and makes them lose confidence in their abilities. Sales reps have always rebelled against this kind of treatment, successful leadership becomes part of the team to achieve sales success. When your team feels their opinion has worth and matters, they will be more inclined to listen and be responsive.
4. The importance of motivation
Find out what it takes for your individual sales reps to be inspired to achieve more. What is it about the job that makes them feel alive? While it’s natural that money is one factor, it’s when they feel someone believes in them and wants to motivate them to do better the quality of their performance improves. Recognizing their efforts and achievements not only encourages them to hit their targets, it makes them feel they are doing something that truly makes a difference.
These concepts are key to sales success. What have you done in the past, or are you doing, to encourage an under-performing sales team?