Today on the funnel we focus on the sales managers guide to team success. As discussed in the last podcast, as a sales manager it is your primary role to make sure that you are doing everything in your power to help your sales reps succeed. This includes modeling behavior, proper coaching, effective processes, and staying organized. As well as recognizing the patterns in your reps, and celebrating their successes! If you have any questions about how you as a sales manager can guide your team to success, contact me and set up a free 30 minute consultation!
What we’re going to cover:
- Manage pipeline and forecast.
- The elephant in the room.
- Everyone celebrates sales success.
Manage pipeline and forecast.
“It’s important to have a deep understanding of how stuff gets into the pipeline, not only as a general rule with your company, but how it gets into the pipeline from each one of your reps; then managing those KPI’s and understanding what’s in the pipeline, the validity of what’s in that pipeline. Because a large pipeline doesn’t necessarily mean that turns into business, it could be a wish list.”
Ongoing forecast & pipeline meetings.
“If you remember on the last podcast we talked about consistency, do the things that you can do on a consistent basis. They like that. Don’t start a forecast meeting, schedule it, and then drop it 2 months later. Stay on it.”
“So, I went over it in the last podcast, but time management was of the things I suggested you start with. If you’re getting pulled into a lot of meetings and putting out a lot of fires, start working on managing more efficiently. Thus, getting out of those meetings that are unimportant and reducing the amount of fires you’re putting out daily. Sales coaching is the same thing, you don’t neglect it.”
“You stay focused on it, it becomes a priority with your team. It is your most important responsibility as a sales manager and it is the most neglected. Why is it the most neglected?
Because it takes time and effort, it takes away from fires, it takes away from the meetings and the coaching falls more in the background.”
“Meetings should be scheduled, but there are going to be times it’s unscheduled. Someone is inevitably going to call you with a question or a problem. So, use the sales coaching techniques to help them and don’t just give a quick answer to get off the phone. It puts you in a better place to provide feedback.”
“Here’s the issue: There are folks that put processes in place and think they’re done. Okay well how do you manage that process?
Let’s find a way to make the process workable, let’s manage to that process, and focus on keeping people in tune to what they’re supposed to do, and when mistakes happen coaching through it.”
“So, just like sales process, get it in place, make it milestone centric, something you can track and hold them accountable to. And then make sure everybody follows it.”
Don’t make it complicated.
“It doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t over engineer it, but it has to be done.”
Accountable to the process.
“Make your sales rep accountable to that process, but don’t make it so regimented and complex that they’re going to hate you and you’re going to confuse them or tie their hands behind their backs.”
Make it reasonable.
“Make sure that what you put in place, you would want to do if you were in the field and you would be fine executing on a daily basis. A lot of times sales managers create sales process programs for sales reps without any thought of what it would be like in the field executing that. Bring in your top-level people and get some feedback from them on how this should work and what works for them in the field and what doesn’t.”
The elephant in the room.
High performance reps
“So, if you’re a new sales manager it can be extremely difficult moving into a new role and you have some folks that are high performance people but they’re difficult to deal with, and everybody tells you ‘let them do what they’re going to do’ meanwhile they’re undermining your ability to manage and become the leader that you need to be. So, understand a couple of things:
- It takes very special people to be successful in our business of selling, and they shouldn’t be looked at in a negative light. Again, walk in their shoes try and figure out why they are the way they are, maybe they are a jerk. But sometimes their habits, their responses, the way they manage themselves in the office is a direct result of what’s happened to them or what’s happened culturally in the organization.
- Maybe they’re just waiting you out, you’re the next sales manager that’s going to go. That they’ve seen these programs come and go before and they’ve never stuck, so they do their own thing.
“So, just as much as they have to prove to you, you have to prove to them. You have to leverage what they bring to the table and turn it into a positive, using their success in their ability to help others, but don’t hold them up if they’re not doing what they should be.
For example, If they don’t follow company process, they do what they want, they’re rude, they don’t show up for meetings, they show up late, they do all these things that undermine your ability, you don’t hold them up as where you want to be. Because that sends the wrong message.”
Everybody has the chance for improvement, even the mavericks.
“‘Just hit your number and you’ll be left alone’ Is just ridiculous, everybody needs help, everybody needs to improve. Everybody needs to get better at what they do and it’s a lifetime commitment. Our career is a commitment.”
Develop appropriate relationship.
“You want to make every attempt to work with that persona and help them be successful. walk through their shoes and understand why they are the way they are. Three things you can do to facilitate this relationship are:
- Walk through their shoes and understand why they are the way they are.
- Establish ground rules up front at least in terms of how you’re going to go about your team, and what the expectations are.
- Slowly develop your relationship to the point where you’re actually helping them and getting them to do the things that they need to do to become a productive member of the team and not just a lone wolf.
Don’t just ignore it.
“Ignoring the elephant in the room is not going to help you. Because just pushing them in a corner and pretending they’re not there and working with everybody else will you kill you in the end. You need to figure it out.
Will you have to make a decision on someone that’s a high performer that’s just not meeting it overall? Yes, that sucks. But I will tell you, historically in my experience, when someone’s been that bad and just undermining everything, and impeding your ability to improve the team as a whole and they move on, we’ve sold more every time. It’s amazing how much more we sell when they’re gone.”
“You’ve got to think ahead with your rep, you have to know what those leading indicators are. I know if I have a really good relationship with my sales team and I know my reps professionally and personally, I know their dreams, desires, goals, they have a career path in place for them, we’re following all the rules of engagement as a sales manager, leading the team, coaching, developing training, having a good forecast, the prospect meetings, and i see a change in behavior? Then I know something is up.”
Recognize your changes in behavior.
“If I know them well and I see a change in behavior, that’s a pattern change and that tells me something. Because small changes in performance, small changes in attitude, tells you something is going on. You need to be proactive and get out in front of them. Don’t blow them off as they’re just having a bad day. If there’s something going on you want to know about it.”
“Because, that’s how you lose people. It could be they’re having some personal issues. But, it also could be that they’re looking for a job, it could be they’re not happy in their role here.”
“So, understand the patterns of your sales rep and if you do all of the things that we’re laying out here with these two podcasts you’ll see it. You’ll see it, you’ll know right away.”
“Time management is key as a sales manager. First thing is tossing out those things that are a waste of your time, be very clear you’re not going to have meetings about nothing. You’re not going to have conversations about nothing.”
“If you’re going on a field ride you better know what you’re doing before you get in that car with them. You had better know where they are in the pipeline, where they are in their forecast, some of the things they need to work on through your coaching sessions, it’s critical to success.
You’re not organized, you’ve got problems. That’s why meetings get missed, that’s why stuff gets skipped and that’s why sales reps lose faith in their sales managers. You have to be the best at this.”
Everyone celebrates sales success.
Celebrate the deal.
“When a sales rep gets a deal, it’s a hard-fought battle and it should be celebrated. Everybody should be happy about that.
Without the sale, business doesn’t happen. That doesn’t mean sales people are better than everybody else but it just means that this is how it works. The first step in the process is selling something, then everything happens after that, the processing, the billing, the accounting, the support services, and we should as a company get excited about that.”
Recognize the effort.
“I don’t need plaques, I never did trophies or my name on the wall but it was always nice when someone said hey you did a great job. And business owners let me explain something to you, if you have a sales manager who has a well-oiled sales team that’s succeeding at a high level, you need to recognize them as well.”
The whole company.
“It’s great because the company grows and it creates opportunities in your division. And it shouldn’t be ‘oh they sold another deal, looks like the warehouse is going to be full. Just doubled my work for the week!’ that’s a cultural issue, you need to fix that. It starts with the sales manager. I don’t care if you have to preach up and down the line to everybody in your company, you better damn well be celebrating it.”
There’s a time and a place.
“Everybody should recognize the effort in what it takes to close a deal and celebrate the living daylights out of it. There’s a time to address paperwork. So, maybe the paperwork is a train wreck and we need to work on that. Show me where the problems are next time around I’ll make sure we line that up.
But I’m not going to beat the hell out of them right now. I’m going to let them bask in the glory of their success. Because I want to go find another one, and another one after that.”
Keep Filling The Funnel
We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover. You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at email@example.com. And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.