Something’s wrong but don’t panic, ask your advisers. Sales management is a fine art. Say you have a senior salesperson who makes it known they do not like to prospect for new customers. This salesperson only works with existing leads; however, prospecting is a mandatory part of the sales journey. Make the tough decision to terminate a nonproductive staff member as soon as you see behavior that does not fit the company’s needs. Basic, fundamental, issues do not change.
When working with startup founders, an adviser often sees where guidance is needed.
Insight comes easy because of many business and life experiences that for sure includes successes and admittedly or not, some failures. Experiences provide the great life lessons that create formulas for success. When dispensing your advice as an advisor, be gentle. It is imperative to be an advisor in the full sense of the word and not the multi-hundred-pound gorilla shouting from the rooftop. Consider the founder’s pride when giving advice. It is their startup, not yours, even though you may have invested a ton of money into it. Keep in mind that you want them to improve and work the deal, not you. This is the reason you invested in the first place, so that others can do the work, be successful, and provide you with a big windfall at the end, right?
Ultimately, the action steps, along with what will be said and done, will be decided and executed by the founder. You are simply there to advise.
There are at least four ways to encourage and motivate your sales team in an effective manner. We all know, even those not in sales, that qualified opportunities lead to sales. How does a company obtain those qualified opportunities? By managing the sales force, the sales processes and providing marketing support.
If you manage effectively, then you are managing correctly.
One: Cooperatively agree on a sales target. Assign a dollar amount of closed deals by the end of each month for at least three months out. Adjust as needed. Encourage your team to reach a certain numerical goal in sales. It will motivate them to reach success and incite them to ask for help if they feel they are not on a path to reach the goal.
Two: Set a number target for demos or prospect conversations per month. Define ‘a qualified lead’. Most likely for a meeting to be counted, a ‘decision maker’ needs to be in attendance, someone that is authorized to make the purchase. Achieving a qualified lead is a productive next step and considered a valid use of time rather than a meeting that is simply set to meet quota. Some weak meetings will occur, they should not be counted toward the sales target set.
Three: Set a number of new names contacted and added to the CRM. For a lead to be valid in CRM and grow in value, it must contain detailed specifics surrounding the opportunity. Not all the information has to be gathered at once, however, having a wholesome opportunity profile will help you assess the reality of a deal closing. Artificially generated ‘percentage closing probability’ is worthless! Set standard lead evaluation criteria to facilitate your own conclusions on the strength of the opportunity. Known details provide new ideas for next action and guide when it needs to occur. An effective salesperson should have 25-40 names gathered on a list, or several lists, and do several 20-minute flights throughout the day to the list to contact people.
Four: Set your framework of standards with some type of manual that details work expectations and a mandatory component in today’s world, job flexibility. In today’s tough sales environment, managing the sales force and their desires for flexibility, has become increasingly challenging from an employee-management point of view. It helps if there is a manual in place that clearly lays out all policies and expectations.
Remember, your goal is not to spend time on what’s not working. It’s best to focus on what will work. Talk to your advisers. By setting mutually agreed targets, work guidelines, and expectations, it will help any situation. If an individual needs and wants their job, they should be willing to follow the appropriate guidelines for success. You, as a founder, have the right to ask your team member if they want their job.
Obtain from your sales team specific commitments for performance in several categories and you will be on the road to success.
If you’re struggling with getting your sales team into shape and you’d like to get some feedback, reach out to me. Happy to discuss a framework for your success.