No one said managing a sales team was easy. With so much money at stake and so many egos involved, managers may often feel tempted to play things by the book and simply hope things will work out — the only problem is that there is no “playbook,” so to speak, that works for every enterprise, team, or salesperson. Just because people used to do things a certain way doesn’t mean they should have in every case, or that those methods apply to the modern workplace. So, while there are many coaching skills for leaders to develop, honing in on antiquated methods will keep you and your business stuck in the past.
Here are some tips for coaching your sales team to optimize performance without resorting to outdated, counterintuitive tactics.
How to Coach a Sales Team
Direct, Don’t Dictate
If you have the final word on every single matter, your employees will soon feel stifled in their decision-making, and their ability to garner interest and close deals will suffer as a result. Remember that you hired every team member in your purview for a reason — they’re intelligent, capable people. Rather than constantly micromanaging their actions, act as a director, guiding their attention, honing their strengths, and checking their weaknesses. Your team members will learn much more with this brand of strong leadership communication than they will simply being told what to do all the time.
Measure Results, Not Face-Time
The workplace is changing fast, which means our conception of the traditional office no longer holds the weight it once did. With the increase in at-home work and virtual office spaces, less emphasis should be placed on one’s physical presence (i.e., hours spent “clocked in”), and more should be placed on actual performance. Different businesses will approach these changes in different ways, of course. When it comes to sales team management, consider whether it’s necessary to have your team together in the same physical space at all times — if your people can perform just as well from home, allow them the flexibility to get their job done wherever they’re most productive. The important thing is setting clear expectations and boundaries so your team is always aware of how and where they should conduct business and how to remain accountable regardless.
Incentivize with More than Money
Raises and bonuses have long been the high benchmark for encouraging continuous improvement and retaining team members. And while no one would deny that money is a strong motivator, it’s not the only means for boosting sales numbers or bolstering company culture, nor is it always the most efficient. In our previous blog, “It’s Not the Money: Why Compensation Models Have Limits in Motivating Workers,” we discussed the diminishing returns of finance-based incentives and explored the importance of inspiring meaning in one’s work. Optimal employee management and motivation require more than the mere promise of money — they also require positive feedback, appropriate placement (i.e., putting the right people in the right positions), continual education and development, healthy work-life balance, and more.
Putting the “Win” Back in Your Sales
If there was a single, foolproof way to manage a sales team (or any business, for that matter), there’d be no need for sales team management training or improvement, more broadly. As times change, everyone must be more willing to adapt in order to uncover the maximum potential of themselves, their peers, and their workers. The old ways simply won’t do — not without some adjustment, at least.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.
Your sales team has their work cut out for them, especially in today’s trying times. That said, the overall success of your business is directly tied to the success of your sales department. So, no matter how challenging the current economic landscape can be, you must do everything possible to ensure that your sales force doesn’t collapse entirely.
Every company is unique and therefore requires an individualized approach to proper sales team management. Still, there are certain steps every business can take to maintain its sales arm during the current pandemic. Let’s explore four ways to ensure your sales team can survive.
How to Consistently Improve a Sales Team
1. Create and Clarify Goals
Most people work their best when headed towards a goal, no matter how near or far it may be. The same goes for teams. By clearly laying out the company’s short- and long-term goals, your sales team will suddenly have a concrete reason to perform at its highest capacity.
That said, in most cases, sales are really hard right now. There is a lot of instability and uncertainty in the economy, which makes customers hesitant to sign new agreements. Short term goals during this “new normal” might be as simple as making X amount of calls per day. Or maybe making connections to have phone or video meetings to check in with clients – see how they are doing, listen to them, and ask how you can help, without even trying to sell. Once you hear their concerns, ask them if you can send them resources that your company provides related to those issues. Not sales material, but actual things they can use, even if your company isn’t the one that developed them. Unfortunately, the sales cycle might be a few more steps of relationship building for now.
2. Create a Positive and High-Performance Culture
Despite becoming another business buzzword, company culture does indeed play a major role in an organization’s success. In order to create a high-performance culture, you can’t neglect other cultural aspects in your workplace, such as employee morale, open communication, mutual respect, recognition, collaboration, etc. For your sales team to grow and improve, individual members must feel comfortable not just working with one another but also being with one another.
These issues can be a challenge- but certainly not impossible- during this time. With many companies working remotely, it is important to still maintain productive working relationships. Your company will most likely want to utilize video or phone conferencing systems to continue cultivating a sense of unity and team-based culture among staff.
3. Streamline Your Processes Together
The modern economy moves fast, so complex, cluttered sales strategies tend to fall behind the curve. If there is anything this situation has taught us, it is how important simple, seemingly boring processes are. If you have solid, well-thought-out processes in place that everyone is used to, it makes it much easier to address the more pressing and often more serious decisions of the current environment. Get your processes established quickly, communicate them clearly, make sure everyone has the tools necessary to follow them, and then start using them to ensure the continued success of your organization.
4. Conduct Regular Reviews
People have a hard time improving if they don’t receive regular feedback, and that is especially true in this untested climate. There is so much uncertainty in the air; your sales staff is likely to feel unsure of their performance as well. You can help this by having frequent conversations with salespeople to ensure they are doing ok. This should include ensuring they have all of the tools and technology they need, asking what their concerns are and addressing them whenever possible, and having more personal, intimate conversations that you previously might not have had. Ask about their families, their spouses, make sure they are well. It will help reinforce and build that culture we addressed earlier.
The four measures outlined above all come back to one essential ingredient for every business’ success: communication. In these trying times, we must all be extra vigilant about checking in on all fronts – salespeople with clients, management with staff, etc. Without an open line of communication between team members, sales managers, and other teams within your organization, you will struggle to set and achieve any goals. Conversely, a highly collaborative, communicative sales team will continue to adapt and navigate these unchartered waters.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More