When we talk about the performance of a sales team, it’s not always just about how much stuff you’re selling or how you can smash those all-important targets.
Of course, successfully selling products or services is going to be a critical part of any business, but how you go about doing it is just as important as the sales themselves. Whilst your team may all have the ‘gift of the gab’ or know your products and services inside out, it can become all too easy for staff to lose focus or become complacent.
When sales are strong, a whole host of problems may be hidden in plain sight. You might find that there’s a culture of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ because, well, that’s what your staff have been used to – and if you’re hitting those targets month-on-month, why change a winning system?
This approach might be fine when the going’s good, but when things get tough, little niggles can become business-defining problems.
CONSTANTLY MISSING THE MARK?
"It’s sometimes the processes and systems which can be the biggest barrier to having an efficient and successful sales team."
Those little niggles can also be the biggest challenges a sales team faces and why they might consistently miss their targets or are struggling to make those all-important sales.
Being a talented salesperson is one thing, but if they don’t have the processes, infrastructure, training or support they need to excel in their roles, their effectiveness can be severely restricted.
Throw into the mix an economy that’s mired in uncertainty, changing market factors and savvier, more discerning customers than ever before, being in sales has never been more challenging.
But fear not. Whilst there are always going to be challenges, there are a number of actions you can take to ensure that your sales team are motivated and empowered to work to the best of their ability every single day…
1. Regularly clarify and confirm the objectives of your team and individuals
You know that old saying ‘Never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me?’ It most definitely applies to how a sales team is managed and motivated.
You might think your sales team is clear on what they need to achieve both individually or as a collective; but don’t be so sure.
Along with regular performance reviews and setting annual KPIs, have quick morning briefings to confirm what you want to achieve during the day and what your team members are working on. This is also the perfect opportunity to identify any potential blockers to success and if there is anything colleagues can do to help. Which leads us nicely onto…
2. Work on creating a rewarding culture of high performance and support
Yup, time to break those stereotypes of salespeople chasing the big sales and only looking out for themselves.
If you encourage a spirit of teamwork and reward your staff for it, you’ll have more chance of not just reaching those targets but smashing them, too!
Individuals may have their own expectations to meet, but if they’re focused on helping each other reach them as opposed to just looking out for themselves, there’ll be more chance of them succeeding.
These are brilliantly cost-effective motivators compared to cash incentives, but more importantly, will help build that all-important team spirit and also forge better relationships between the individuals in your team.
3. Have the right people for the business, not just to meet targets
You might have some gifted salespeople; but are they really right for the business? Are they fully aligned to your organisation’s vision, values, culture and goals, or are they there just to add to their bank balance?
A team of mercenaries might boost your sales in the short term, but they’ll always be on the lookout for their next big score and will happily move from job to job to ensure that happens.
Instead, look at hiring employees who share your own vision, values and goals. This way, you’ll have a better chance of retaining your talented staff and building a team that works for the long-term success of your organisation.
"Having trust in your sales team is an important part of a successful company culture and, perhaps just as importantly, being a good leader, too."
4. Teach the importance a customer-led approach
As we mentioned earlier, customers are smart, savvy and not to be underestimated.
They’ll have done their research, have looked at reviews online, spoken to friends and will probably know more about the strengths and weaknesses of your product than you do! They’ll be ready for your glossy sales pitches; so instead, offer a customer-centric approach that put their needs ahead of your need for sales.
5. Highlight the importance of a healthy work-life balance and time management
There’s no getting away from the fact that there’ll be days when your team will need to burn the midnight oil to make things happen. But it’s also important to recognise the hard work they put in to chase those leads and make those sales, too.
If your sales team are travelling further and starting or finishing later than usual, ensure that they’re given the opportunity to get some time back – perhaps in the form of a late start, early finish or being able to work from home from time-to-time (if they have the facilities to do this, of course!).
Whilst it may seem like putting the extra hours in will be beneficial, if it becomes the norm, overworking can lead to a number of negative side effects; including stress, fatigue and poor mental wellbeing – none of which are conducive to a positive working environment!
6. The right tools and processes for the job
Are your sales team constantly losing details of conversations they have with prospective leads? Are you taking advantage of ‘Smarketing’ or do your sales team simply focus on selling stuff? Is your CRM system fit for purpose or is it more of a hindrance?
It’s sometimes the processes and systems which can be the biggest barrier to having an efficient and successful sales team.
Always try to listen and take on feedback or thoughts from your staff. They may have their own suggestions as to how things can be improved or what methods could be adopted to make the sales process more efficient and more successful.
7. Brush up on your motivational skills
If you’re managing a team whose performances are flatlining, motivating them effectively can be the key to improving their performance and closing those big deals.
However, don’t just resort to cash incentives or the prospect of a bonus to do this – that can be expensive and, to be honest, not that effective either! Brush up on your dos and don’ts of staff motivation and also take the time to understand the different personalities in your team as how they respond will depend on what they’re like as people – not just salespeople.
8. Trust in your team to deliver the goods
Last, but by certainly no means least, trust in your team to deliver the results your business needs and try not to overly-micromanage them.
It can be difficult to leave a team to their own initiative when there are targets to meet, but if you have people who are aligned with your organisation’s visions and values, they’ll want to do what’s best for the business and, of course, make the sales to boost their own standing or earnings.
Having trust in your sales team is an important part of a successful company culture and, perhaps just as importantly, being a good leader, too.