Sales Managers: How Well Do You Know Your Team?
There is power and impact in taking the time to understand the relative performance, strengths and weaknesses of sales people. Great sales managers provide constructive feedback, proactive career guidance and nurture mentorship across teams. Based on what I’ve seen over the years and talking to many sales managers, their vision of the ideal profile of a super sales person is usually a combination of many of their sales people. They say: It would be great if we could combine of few of my sales people into one. That’s why “winning as a team” is such an important concept in sales, especially as sales managers embrace peer-to-peer mentoring. Taking the time to pause and do an honest and constructive assessment of a sales team can have far reaching benefits.
I was talking to a sales manager to begin planning out his team’s sales productivity program. We started by first talking about his company goals and priorities. He shared that deals are getting stuck. The quantity of “no-decision” deals was high. Opportunities were “nice to have” but not mission critical. Sound familiar? We could have gone down the path to talk about the quality of leads or the corporate messaging but the answer was not there.
The first line sales manager had the answer. She knew what we needed to do.
We looked at the team. We evaluated every sales person. We recognized that her team was a new team with a lot of great energy and basic sales skills. They had good domain. The product training was working. What he realized was that his team lacked the ability to have in depth, strategic conversations with a prospect about critical business issues. They lacked the confidence and the competence. They were not creating qualified opportunities. He needed his sales teams to go deeper in their qualification and discovery conversations.
We created a sales program for this team focused on some core selling skills including: buyer personas, qualification conversations, open ended questions, discovery and customer follow up.
The team embraced the focus and attention. We launched the program in a series of team meetings or what we called “sales huddles” across a four-week period. The team quickly began performing better. Their confidence improved. They were able to prioritize their time and focus on more qualified opportunities. Each person started having better conversations. They were asking richer questions and getting great answers from their customers. If they were talking to the wrong people then the team was quick to mentor each other during their weekly team meetings.
The sales manager used the information from the assessment to deliver the right coaching to the team.
A simple and focused approach was taken focusing on success of the team. The sales manager came across as caring about the team. It resulted in clarity to the sales manager on what the team was capable of and also clarity to the team on where they needed to grow. The team is growing together.
Take the time time to assess each person on your team and look at his or her relative scores. Identify mentors and connect them with folks that have areas of growth. Identify “hot spots” that need attention and build a plan to get your sales people’s skills and performance improved. Be consistent and conduct this team assessment monthly or quarterly.