Effective sales leaders understand that sales team behaviors are a major influence on sales results. They know how important it is to encourage and reinforce productive behaviors across the entire team. In addition, sales leaders routinely challenge salespeople to push beyond comfort zones and hold the entire team accountable for their performance. By doing this, effective sales leaders put in place the environment for substantial growth opportunities.
To drive growth, concentrate your efforts on these four key areas.
1. Look at the Numbers
It may seem obvious, but salespeople respond to competition and challenge.
Each rep needs metrics to achieve. How are they doing in meeting those metrics? If they’re falling short, or maybe just hitting the mark, consider a gamification program. Gamification is simply taking the principles of games (e.g., competing, winning, rules) and applying them to another area such as sales performance.
Implementing a sales contest can create friendly competition among your reps that will drive them to improve. The beauty of sales is there is a natural transparency around performance and results. Gamification capitalizes on that transparency and leverages it to grow your reps and your revenue.
2. Professional Characteristics
Professionalism is about more than just a dress code and a handout on ethical behaviors; it’s also about effective time management. Effective time management can drive revenue growth by allocating more hours in the week to productive calls or calls where there’s a higher possibility of a close.
Judging how a rep does in managing time is more than ensuring they plan out their week. A common allocation of a sales professional’s time is client engagement (and preparing to engage clients), but how many times has a sales rep spent hours prepping for a call only to have a no-show on the other end?
This is bound to happen at some point. An effective sales manager will teach the team how to respond professionally by following up and acknowledging the missed appointment and dealing with the fallout by a) making another appointment or b) digging deeper to find out why the meeting got cancelled. Communicate in a way that brings attention to the prospect’s absence but also displays empathy and understanding. Your rep should also highlight the responsibility each party has to respect one another’s time. At the end of the day, if sales reps don’t respect time in front of customers, then how can they ever expect customers to respect their time?
A great way to allocate a rep’s time is to help them become domain experts who truly understand customers and their respective businesses. Whether this is through deeper discovery calls, further conversations, or leveraging tools to analyze the business, a team that’s positioned as experts will close more sales and build more business.
3. Problem Solving Skills
Passivity in a salesperson’s efforts will always generate mediocre results. In an ideal world, you would be able to identify these characteristics during the interview process so you don’t hire such reps. In many cases, however, that’s easier said than done – especially since reps may start out going like gangbusters only to slack off over time. Sales managers must find ways to inspire everyone on the team so they don’t fall into passive go-along-to-get-along underperformers.
So what to do? First, keep an eye on results. When reps don’t meet weekly goals, that’s a sure sign they’re falling into passivity.
Second, get them to think critically by becoming active problem solvers. Encourage them to demonstrate initiative. As a manager, you cannot afford to have your head in the weeds all the time. You must rely on your reps to apply critical thinking and problem solving on their own. They might not get everything right all the time but, when they make mistakes, that’s an opportunity for them to learn and grow. So push them to perform or show them the door.
4. Get Creative
Companies that are consistently successful are the ones that remain creative. At any given time, someone else is out there brainstorming ideas that can take down your business.
To maintain success, create an environment where reps are thinking creatively and staying focused on the customer. Focusing on customers creates room for creative contributions from the sales team. They are on the front line – getting the most face-to-face interaction with customers. The knowledge they gain from discovery calls and their numerous interactions with various companies is incredibly valuable. They are able to offer insights that others in your business might not have, so push reps to leverage the information they have in a creative way.
Reps are the conduit between customers and executive offices. Make sure the two are working in tandem and sharing information. It’s the best for both worlds.
Austin Rolling is CEO of Outfield, which offers web and mobile CRM and field sales apps for iPhone, Android, and the Web.