Performance Improvement Barriers Sales Executives Focus On...
Top Performing Sales People and Sales Managers generate better results consistently because they do things differently. It is CRITICAL that Sales Executives know exactly what they are doing that is generating better results. Executives need to hear this voice-to-voice and even better, face-to-face and LISTEN... take notes... and understand clearly what the gaps are between what they're doing and what the rest of the team is doing. Top performers are the SCOUTS in a Sales Organization that should be pointing the way for others to follow. Seek out their advice and take action on it. They are your best customer advocates and can help cut through the BS that distracts a Sales Organization from executing more effectively.
"We really got sucked into managing by data screen and the energy in our sales organization got worse and worse. We kept thinking the answer to our problems was in the data and we spent more and more time looking for it and, frankly, we became a very critical and negative organization. Sales meetings were an energy suck and employee satisfaction numbers were mediocre at best. We decided to limit the amount of time everyone in the Sales Organization spent looking at CRM reports and things started to change. We got our Sales Managers spending a lot more time listening to our Sales People, live and that helped too. When we got the Sales VP's back on the phones with customers just checking in and showing we care, everything started to change. Data is great and its useful, no doubt, but it has to be used sparingly. Once you know who you need to see and what needs to be done, you have to go out and do it skillfully and that's the key. We have really worked at limiting the number of reports that everyone looks at to the bare minimum and its helping a lot.
Julie R. - Sales Executive
Media Advertising Sales
Often, B-players on the Sales Team, both Managers and Sales People, do not know what Top Performers are truly saying to their Customers and Prospects that is different from what they are saying. We have found that recording Top Performers explaining the value proposition, differentiating factors, competitive advantages and simple things like how they leave voice mails to get a quick callback can by very powerful tools to improve the rest of the Sales Team.
Very few Sales Organizations record and then flood the Sales Team with Top Performer recordings and Success Stories. It is an important strategy to accelerate performance. We can show you how to do it efficiently and inexpensively.
Sales Executives Interview Insights
"Once we developed really good Sales Trainers, we started looking for a different kind of Sales Person. In the past, we tried to hire / poach experienced people that could bring business with them and didn't "need" to be managed or trained. That created a lot of problems. We had no consistency, a lot of resistance to using a sales process and a lot challenges managing them.
We changed our approach based on your recommendations and we built a great Sales Training Team and program. We looked for people with desire and the right attitude. What a difference. They learned our systems, our sales methods and are much more flexible than we ever thought possible. Our recruiting costs are down and we don't have the turnover we used to have. What's most important though, is the interaction between our Sales Trainers and our Sales People and Front Line Coaches. They all integrated together. The Trainers do a lot of the day to day coaching and the impact they are having is incredible. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine our Sales Trainers could have as much impact as they're having today.
Jack L. - Sales Executive
In the first six months of 2016, I interviewed over 120 top Sales Executives from Fortune 500 companies with the intent of getting their perspective on what are the most stubborn obstacles and barriers when it comes to building top performing sales teams. The results were surprising and fascinating.
Most of these Sales Executives agreed their sales organizations had made enormous progress when it comes to technology, CRM pipeline management and understanding where the sales opportunities are and who needs to do what by when. Although many were somewhat suspicious that all the data being entered was 100% pure and honest, they didn't think that was the most important area for improvement anymore.
It was somewhat surprising that 117 out of 120 Sales Executives said the NUMBER 1 BARRIER to better results was poor and/or inconsistent Sales Coaching from front-line Sales Managers. That too many Sales Managers did a poor or inconsistent job when it came to following up sales training and reinforcing the selling skills and sales process with coaching and practice in the field.
The two other frequently mentioned barriers were inability to build a consistent sales culture across the different sales platforms in their company and too many Sales People approaching sales opportunities with a transactional approach instead of looking at the big picture, selling a longer term relationship based on problem solving and helping the customer/client understand their total solution capabilities. Below are some ideas on how to overcome these stubborn obstacles to better sales team performance.
Too much money and resources is spent on training Sales People and not nearly enough is spent training Sales Managers and Sales Trainers. These two groups of people are the fuel that generates change. They are often so busy and under-staffed that they are simply trying to keep up with all the tasks and projects and, as a result, don't have a lot of time left over for coaching and when they do, they haven't had nearly enough training and coaching themselves on how to coach. Coaching Sales Teams to become fantastic is a very difficult thing to do. It is not intuitive and it is not a natural skill most Sales Managers have. In fact, most Sales Managers have NEVER worked for a good Sales Coach themselves which is why they need coaching and training to shift their mindset and develop a better paradigm to execute from.
Over the last 15 years, we have worked with thousands of front-line Sales Manager and 90% of them say the number one thing that prevents them from doing more coaching in the field is the increasing burden of keeping up with all the reporting, administration, urgent projection requests and the swelling appetite for data coming from all areas of the company. It is critical that Sales Executives PROTECT the time of Sales Managers and then hold them accountable to doing real coaching in the field with their Sales Teams.
It is important to manage pipelines and report accurate results, but it's also important not to let that activity get in the way of the interactions that generate more rapid progress.
"The hardest lesson I learned as a Sales Leader is I have got to spend a lot of time each week speaking to customers, top performing Sales People and my front line Sales Managers. There is nothing I do that is more important than this from a results standpoint. I simply cannot and do not let myself get sucked into hours and hours of administration that has zero impact on improving sales. I place a strict time limit, about 3-hours a day, on administration, emails, policy and routine meetings. Absolutely no more than that. The other 6-7 hours are spent interacting with my Sales Teams in one way or another and talking to our customers.
Robert Peterson - Sales Executive - Internet Advertising
A lot of the stronger sales organizations are more assertive about getting Sales Executives into more interactions with Customers, Sales People and Sales Managers. Consider assigning Executive Sponsors to groups of accounts that Executives can become more engaged with and help clear the internal problems that often get in the way of a sale. The closer Executives are to the Customer and the more they hear the frustrations of their Customers, the faster they can act on solving the problems that create that frustration. That is best accomplished by talking with Customers... asking them what needs to improve and how to serve them better. This interaction is gold!
Effective Strategies to overcome sales performance barriers...
"I really though we had a great Sales Training approach 3 years ago. I had no idea at all what potential I was ignoring. We were using a really good program by Richardson Training and had 3 levels of training for our Sales People and 2 levels for Sales Managers. WOW, was I wrong. When I insisted we dig into it, we found our Sales Trainers were not credible, Sales Managers were not following-up in the field and we weren't using our Trainers where they were needed most. When we made that shift, it was exciting to watch. We trained the heck out of our Sales Trainers first and they became like Delta Force trainers. They did live events, remote coaching, testing, booster workshops, sales meetings and injected so much energy and competency into the team. This really was the key to igniting our Sales Teams. We paid them really well and a lot of our Top Performers WANTED to join the Sales Training Team. That's when I knew we were on to something big.
Alfred R. - Sales Executive
Financial Services Sector
Think of the Sales Training Team more as a "special ops" type team, the way the military does, than simply a team that gets new-hires up to speed and conducts a few live events throughout the year. The Sales Training Team is one of the most powerful tools a Sales Executive has to accelerate improvement but they are often under-utilized.
Put your Sales Trainers through the MOST RIGOROUS TRAINING possible. Develop their ability to be better at training, facilitating, storytelling, coaching live and over the phone and working with Sales Managers and Sales People. Sales Trainers need to become the absolute BEST SALES COACHES in the sales organization!
Nothing will improve results faster in a large Sales Organization than challenging and developing the Sales Trainers to become better and then get them involved in working on a weekly basis with the weaker performers in the organization. If they are simply doing classroom or internet based training, they are nowhere near activating their full potential.
Effective Sales Professionals must have exceptionally good skills at leading a conversation, asking good questions, listening, summarizing, quickly adjusting to barriers and tailoring ideas to integrate what they have just learned. This is VERY HARD stuff to do well which is why so many customers say that most Sales People they meet with are frustrating to deal with. Sports teams and elite military units use a lot of training and repetition to achieve results and this is exactly what sales teams should do but often don't. It takes a lot more than an annual sales training event and a refresher or two to raise the competency levels of EVERYONE on the sales team including Sales Coaches and Managers. Training and repetitive practice drills with intense coaching must be built into the very fabric of how the sales teams function. This requires, a big shift in priorities and a much more effective utilization of corporate training and coaching resources. This is nearly always the weak link in the execution chain.