The 3 Keys to Successful Sales Management

By Mike Brooks

If you are a business owner or sales manager responsible for getting your team of inside sales reps to make their numbers or achieve sales quotas, then I feel your pain.  If you’re like many of the sales managers and owners I work with, then I know you’re being pulled in many different directions.  You’re busy; you have endless meetings to attend, reporting to do, and on top of it all you have many different personalities to deal with on your team, and each of them have different skill levels, motivation levels, etc.

It can seem like an overwhelming job.

In addition, you’ve probably never had much real sales management training, and the actual sales training that you are supposed to give your team probably isn’t very highly structured or developed either.  I can just see you nodding your heads and thinking, “Yeah, you got that right.  Now what?”

Well, here’s what.  Sales management is actually easier than you might think and straight forward if you break it down to its three most important elements.  If you concentrate on these three keys and actually make it a priority to implement them, your job will get so much easier, and, more importantly, you and your team will start closing more business and making their numbers more consistently.

Here’s what they are:

1)      Define your sales process best practices.  Provide your team with clear, easy to follow best practices in terms of the specific sales techniques and skill sets that are the most effective for your product or service.  Give them the specific scripts and rebuttals to follow, specific qualifying questions, proper closing tools, and make sure they are clear and easy to follow.

In other words, identify what actually works in your selling cycle and what the best approaches are, and then develop them into a solid selling system and make it company policy that this is the best practice way to handle every part of your selling process from the first call, to qualifying, to leaving voice messages and emails, to getting back to your prospects, and to closing the sale and handling objections.

You absolutely must make this selling system clear enough for anyone to understand and follow.  Once you have this, then:

2)      Implement and monitor the use of this best practice system.  Think of a great football team.  What do they do?  The coaches come up with the best game plan (the system), and then they teach it to their players and practice every formation, every play and every technique.  They drill it in over and over and they watch film of each practice and game to make sure their players are following the plan and using the best techniques.

And that’s what you need to do with your sales team as well.  Once you’ve given your team the best practices, it’s up to you to train them on it and reinforce adherence to it.  You do that by observing your sales reps as they are on the phone with their prospects and customers.  You record their calls and review them with each rep, and then you make sure they are using the best practices.  If you do that – actually get your team members to use the best practices that you know work – then they will finally get better and make more sales (truly, it’s the only way).

3)      Discipline your team members when they aren’t following your sales best practices.  First, let me say a word about discipline.  Discipline comes from the Greek work that means “to teach,” not “to scold or make others feel bad.”  The proper role of a teacher, coach or sales manager is to point out when a student or sales rep isn’t following the proven tools needed to succeed, and then to help them, or “teach” them to do it better.  And that’s where your skills as a manager (and where your time) will be most effective.

You can do this in your one on one’s with a sales rep, and you can do this in sales meetings where you can play recordings of reps who are doing it correctly, and you can do it by feeding lines to a rep while they’re on the phone, or by instant messaging while you’re listening in, etc., or by role playing.  The bottom line is that it’s your job to give your team the right tools to succeed, train them on those tools, and then monitor and teach them to use them consistently.

If you implement all three of the above keys above in your selling environment, you will see the quickest and easiest return on your time and investment.  If you miss one of these keys, then you will spend all your time wondering what’s wrong, and your frustration with the team, with your company and with your efforts will only get worse.

Look at your current selling environment and see which one of these keys is missing.  Once you find it, you’ll now know what to do!

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