Co-authored by Ed Young, Fabricator’s Business Coach and Tiffany Brooks, Sales Leadership Coach and Trainer with MBSBLLC
- Is your sales volume relatively consistent month to month or does it vary significantly?
- Can you reliably forecast your monthly sales for the next six to twelve months?
- If you make a change in your sales processes, are you confident your sales team will execute the new process well or will they push back?
- Does your sales team consistently follow-up on quotes the way you want them to?
Sales is the engine that powers your business. If it isn’t hitting on all cylinders, then your business will struggle. If you can’t accelerate this engine when you need to, profitability will suffer when you need sales the most. Effectively managing your sales engine is the key to success – especially when the economy is uncertain.
Is this your sales team:
- Frequently don’t get customer signatures on orders
- Frequently push to change the schedule so ‘their’ clients get favorable treatment
- Don’t follow up on quotes consistently so they miss out on potential sales
- Don’t update sales and prospecting data in your CRM
- Not consistently calling on new prospect accounts
- Have too much time unaccounted for (are they even working?)
- Don’t respond to customer inquiries in a timely fashion
- Don’t collect the data needed to generate a solid sales forecast
If many of these statements describe your sales team, then you don’t have a reliable revenue engine for your business.
How do you overcome those challenges? How do you get consistent performance from your sales team?
Over the next few months, we’ll have a series of articles to help you with the key tools and techniques for effectively managing your sales team. This month, let’s start with Setting Expectations
Obviously, we set expectations with employees because they need to know what behaviors we require of them. They need to know what performance objectives we need them to achieve. They need to know what processes we need them to follow as they perform their jobs. So, how do we set expectations effectively? How do we make this process work for us?
Let’s use quote follow-ups as an example:
First, let’s define what we expect. We need to have our quote follow-up rhythm defined. How long after the quote is the first follow-up made? Is it a text or an email or a call? What is the timing and communication method for all subsequent follow-ups? What do we expect the content of each text, email, and voice mail to be? How many follow-up attempts are made before we stop following up? How is that last follow-up contact handled? What is the script we want used for that communication so that contact is final yet professional?
Without this additional detail, we couldn’t reasonably expect our people to execute the follow-up process the way we want them to.
Next, we need to document our expectations. You may have heard the phrase: “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen”. The same is true for our expectations. If they aren’t documented, they don’t exist.
But what happens when your expectations change? The answer is: Document. Document. Document. To manage policy documents effectively, you need to know which document is the latest version. Googling “document revision control process” will help you identify a method that will work for you.
Communicate your expectations to your team. Sharing your documented process is an obvious step. Getting feedback and input from your team on the process is key, as is consistent training. Communication can be a complex topic, so we will dedicate an entire article to it soon.
Finally, we need to follow-up with our people so we can ensure accountability. This follow-up isn’t just a casual, “How’s it going?”, nor is it a punitive activity where we only criticize poor performance. Effective follow-up involves regular feedback on performance – both good and bad. In the case of poor performance, it involves validating the employee’s understanding of our expectations and discovering, with the employee, the reasons for poor performance. How you handle this follow-up is critical to improving future performance.
Accountability cuts both ways. We expect employees to be accountable for their results. As managers, we are also accountable for how we track those results. If we evaluate employee performance without solid facts and data, we lose credibility with our team. This is sure to decrease employee motivation and performance.
Having adequate systems to track employee follow-up calls, texts, and emails is crucial to effectively managing a sales team. Implementing a good Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software package should be an early step in building sales performance. There are many on the market and the selection can be dizzying. Getting the help of someone knowledgeable about these systems can save you a lot of time and help you avoid expensive mistakes.
Looking at the above example, hopefully it’s apparent that, if you were to just tell your people to “make sure you follow up on all quotes within 24 hours”, and didn’t follow the process above, you couldn’t reasonably expect good performance from your sales team.
We’ve used quote follow-up as our example here, but these steps apply to managing all your expectations for your sales team. Take a minute to list the areas you wish you had better performance from your sales team. Chances are you will find that key expectations are not being met in these areas. Applying the techniques above will get you well on the way to improving the performance of your sales team.
If you are struggling to reach your business goals or if you’re just stressed out and are ready to regain some sanity in your business, hit the GET YOUR ASSESSMENT button on my website and schedule an assessment or contact me at Ed@FabricatorsCoach.com
Tiffany Brooks, Leadership Coach & Trainer at MBSBLLC, is a recognized sales leader in the luxury retail sector. Her focus is on professional development, leadership coaching, consultation, and training to get people, their teams, and their work to the next level. You can reach her at Tiffany@MBSBLLC.com
This article was published in the September 2023 Issue of the Slippery Rock Gazette, find it at: