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Here are some tips for coaching your sales team to optimize performance without resorting to outdated, counterintuitive tactics.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.
It might seem odd that the term “salesy” has become a pejorative. After all, the main objective of a sales team is to sell their company’s products and services. However, those on the other end of a sales call have their own priorities and challenges, and no one enjoys feeling pressured to agree to a contract or make a purchase.
By now, most people can tell when the person selling something is doing it for the wrong reasons and not actually interested in the customer’s needs. As a result, salespeople who come off as too pushy and/or inauthentic end up losing more leads and sales than they gain. So, if your team has been accused of being “salesy,” your success rate and reputation will take a hit. It’s time to adopt a new approach to sales and sales team management. Here are some tips on how to start selling more naturally.
How to Have More Natural Sales Language
Remember: The Need is More Important than the Product
Improving your sales strategy begins by recognizing that, to the customer, what you’re selling is secondary to their needs. In other words, your sales team must shift its thinking from focusing on selling a product or service to addressing a prospect’s specific pain points. For instance, if you’re selling software solutions to a company, start the conversation by asking questions about their operations and common issues that your product can resolve. Taking this approach reminds the potential buyer of their needs and establishes a level of trust between both parties.
Do Not Push — Get Ahead of the Game
If selling is the main source of revenue for your business, easing up a bit is easier said than done. Still, considering that high-pressure sales pitches are less and less effective these days (and even detrimental), loosening your grip a bit is more beneficial in the long run. You can do this by “getting ahead of the game,” so to speak. What does this mean, exactly? Simply put, openly anticipate that your customer might decline your offer by laying out the possibilities from the outset. You and your prospect both know what’s going on, after all.
So, you can build trust by being transparent and leading a call or meeting with something like: “When we’re finished talking today you might decide that we can offer something valuable for your company or you might decide that now isn’t the right time. We’re here to make sure you make the best decision for your needs.” Acknowledging that “no” is an option reduces the pressure and makes everyone more comfortable.
Let the Other Party Talk (Ask Questions)
Speaking of transparency, another way to sell more naturally is to not hog the line: let the other party talk. If the prospect isn’t particularly chatty, ask meaningful, open-ended questions (avoid closed-off “yes or no” questions). Doing so may reveal important pain points and concerns that can help you improve your pitch and better understand the other party. Plus, allowing the prospect to speak creates a conversational balance that naturally reduces the “salesiness” of the interaction.
Sell by Not Selling (Inbound Marketing)
When we think of sales, we often think about outbound marketing strategies like cold calls, mailing lists, trade shows, etc. However, inbound marketing strategies are just as important, especially these days where social media and search algorithms dominate the information sphere. These strategies include content creation, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and other tactics that organically lead targeted audiences to your company and products. One major benefit of a strong inbound marketing approach is that it rarely comes off as “salesy” because people are coming to you, not vice versa. That said, you can still eliminate any potential “salesiness” by investing in great copywriting that’s easy to read, relatable, and highly relevant.
Focus on Developing Leaders in Your Sales Team
Your sales numbers depend on the performance of your sales team. If your people lack clear direction or don’t receive consistent, constructive feedback, they will continue to fall into the same ruts. In order to level up your sales strategy, then, you have to level up your sales staff. Investing in sales leadership training is crucial to staying ahead of the curve in this challenging, competitive industry.
An effective sales leadership development program might include seminars on how to personalize sales pitches, encourage prospect’s to do the talking, create quality sales copy and marketing content, follow up properly with different types of leads, and much more. As members of your sales team continue developing leadership skills, they can pass on their knowledge to newer, less experienced employees.
Being too “salesy” is a losing strategy. Shifting to a needs-focused, low-pressure, transparent, magnetic approach, combined with proper sales leadership development will help you win.
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.Read More
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