We’ve written a lot about sales in the past, from the process, to the attitude, to techniques and behaviors, but I continue to see my TAB Members struggle with how to manage sales. This is due, in part, to some of the following habits and routines that get in the way of effective sales management.
Many of my business owners have “sales meetings” that are just reporting meetings. They “go through” the opportunities just to review them. They may even have a report that is a snapshot of what deals are in the pipe, but they don’t use the meeting as an opportunity for management or strategy.
The above meetings may involve picking an opportunity at random (we don’t want to take the time to go through all of them) and quizzing the sales person about where the opportunity stands.
The focus of many of these meetings is based on how much revenue the company will get. If it does not look like it will close, and add to our revenues, we don’t want to discuss it.
Many owners are skilled in their craft and feel incapable of holding a “sales” meeting. As a result, they meet, report, maybe spot check and focus on what can be closed, but that stays the pattern because anything more would expose their discomfort.
The Solution? Stop Reporting and Start Managing
The key to sales management in your company is to turn the sales meeting into an opportunity to improve the capabilities of the sales force. Make the reports stand for themselves without discussion, then turn to how everyone can improve. How does their progress compare with their goals, their last month, and one another? What part of their sales process needs help? Use the meetings to help them improve their individual skills, techniques, territory, and time management – collaboratively.
You’ve got great people on your team, let them help each other succeed. Susan may have lots of opportunities but has trouble moving the prospect to a buying decision. Tim may not have many leads because he has a challenge getting people to talk with him. Perhaps they can help one another. George may be doing everything well, but spends too much time driving. Maybe he needs to focus on opportunities near his commute, or in a particular vertical market. Learn together and everyone improves. Everyone makes more sales, feels less stress and makes more money. Identify their bottlenecks together and brainstorm how to remove them.
Just think – if you can remove a bottleneck, constraint or barrier, and they all can sell more, perhaps you can then move to selling higher margin deals!
Let everyone come to the meeting with opportunities for growth such as:
- a need
- an objection they keep hearing
- a practice to share
- something they tried that worked really well
(Be sure and recognize and reinforce good behavior!)
Now you have turned your sales meetings from reporting to managing, which in my world means planning, organizing, implementing and adjusting. These last two being what is often missed.
By Bob Dodge