“Grow your sales force in quantity and quality. And if you grow your sales force in quantity and quality, they in turn will grow your sales,” says sales training and coaching expert Jack Daly in his Fridays with Vistage webinar. His presentation, “Getting the Most of Your Sales Force: 12 Activities For the Winning Sales Leader” addresses the most important factors that management can practice in order to build a successful sales force. He explains these 12 key factors as follows:
1. Ranking of the Sales Staff and Minimum Standards of Performance: “All sales people should not be treated equally,” he states. As sales personnel have different capabilities, experiences and territories, the plan and minimum performance standards negotiated should be customized for each individual. The sales force should be ranked at least monthly, and consider replacing your bottom tier for better prospects and to improve company culture. He suggests, “low turnover is NOT a good thing. Low turnover of GOOD Performers IS a good thing.”
2. One-on-One sessions: Managers should meet with each member of the sales team for one-on-one sessions to discuss pipeline, goals and activities, touch system and for coaching at least once a month. If possible, meet weekly to examine what is making them successful or unsuccessful.
3. Inspect the Baskets – Proactive Pipeline Management: Each team member’s pipeline should be divided into two categories: prospects and clients. Prospects should be ranked in order of importance, and records should be kept on how and how often they’ve been contacted and, most importantly, why a prospect hasn’t become a customer yet. When prospecting, identify which businesses have the most opportunity, and spend time targeting them more frequently rather than prospecting to more companies. He suggests that more touches can create more trust, and people buy from companies they trust.
4. Inspection of Prospecting Touch System: Studies show that most organizations don’t begin to remember a company until nine contacts have been made; most organizations quit contact after five or less unsuccessful tries. Use different media to contact clients and prospects including phone calls, emails, direct mail and social media. Also, customize your contact agenda with industry-specific info and ideas or messages that appeal to the personal interests of the contact.
5. Goals and Key Activities Inspection Process: Each salesperson should create their goals in writing and have a written plan on how to reach goals as wells as a system of measurement and a system of accountability. Break long-term financial goals into weekly amounts, and identify the key activities that need to be done in order to reach those goals. Keeping accurate measurements of the process will help make them accountable.
6. Training is a Process, not an Event: “If your NOT training, you’re NOT Gaining,” says Jack. Each team member’s performance should be analyzed, and they should be continuously trained by doing field calls, role practice, one-on-ones, progress reviews and other techniques.
7. Field Calls: Managers should incorporate field calls into their training programs. The three scenarios for field call training include joint, training and coaching calls. Joint calls are when both manager and salesperson participate equally, training calls are conducted by the manager, and coaching calls are conducted by the salesperson. Debrief after calls to discuss what worked well and what could be improved.
8. Role Practice: “If your sales people are not practicing inside their company, where are they practicing?” asks Jack. Doing 3-person group practice calls where members alternate in the roles of salesperson, prospect and observer will hone their skills in a constructive environment without having the potential of losing prospective business.
9. Building the Success Guide: There are only so many variables in a sales call, and sales staff can prepare themselves beforehand by composing a case-specific guide to study these variables thoroughly. They should ready themselves for each call by knowing company products well, which questions to ask and which unique objections that prospects are likely to encounter. Top sales people can anticipate these variables so well that their actions and reactions can almost become “canned.”
10. Effective Sales Meetings: Hold sales meetings regularly that communicate a clear purpose, have assigned actions, and include follow-up steps.
11. Progress Reviews: Managers should meet with individuals to set future goals and give feedback on their progress. Consider doing pre-emptive reviews that outline objectives for the upcoming quarter and areas needed for improvement. That way there’s written documentation if goals are accomplished or haven’t been met.
12. Recruiting and Upgrading the Sales Team: Companies should always be recruiting for better sales personnel. Recruit staff from other companies; don’t promote poorer sales people within just to fill positions. Spend the time to get to know the inner person you are hiring, and hire those with the best attitudes. Jack encourages employers to “hire smart verses managing hard,” and to know the position profile to help define what would be the perfect candidate.