Frustrated with Your Sales Team?
Over the course of the last few months, I cannot count the number of conversations with CEOs and sales leaders that boil down to them saying something like: "My current sales team is not worth investing any money in” or “I have the wrong people; I will need to get new sales people before it’s worth investing in training.”
Some just throw up their hands and say, “These days ... it’s not like when I was carrying a bag ... now they are so lazy and entitled.” And the ones who feel like they have tried everything say “I don’t know what I am doing wrong, but it’s not working.”
Here’s the scenario: Customer churn is outpacing new revenue. Activity expectations have been dialed up and excuses abound. Results are not there and frustration levels are off the charts.
A good sales team is never a coincidence.
How to love your sales team again...
Love your Sales Team. Emphasis on the word "team."
In the spirit of March Madness, I will draw upon a famous Michael Jordan quote:
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
Talent, Teamwork and Intelligence. That’s what is needed to win consistently in sports and in business. Especially in sales. Let’s break it down.
Talent: It is highly unlikely that everyone on your sales team doesn’t have the talent to perform successfully in the role. True, there is a chance that you have one or two that are not a fit. (Read our previous blog Fire Him Now.) But, our research finds that the talent on the team almost always fall into the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of them have the ability and talent to perform successfully and 20 percent may not. That said, if you don’t invest in the 80 percent, they will leave. (I don’t need to describe where that leaves you.) And investing in them doesn’t just mean sending them to a training seminar. Investing in them means that you have a process for continuously honing their talents. Developing their skills takes energy, focus and consistency. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do we have a method for identifying the specific skills that each sales person needs to improve upon?
- Do we have a consistent process and the actions or activities identified that will foster that skill development?
- Do we have regular role-practice and situation scrimmage sessions to provide a consistent feedback loop?
Teamwork: We all know that salespeople are competitive. They want to be the best and at the top of the quota chart. That doesn’t mean that they want to work alone. All too often, an organization is set up with salespeople reporting to several different sales managers with no cohesive, team-based dialogue. I often find organizations have salespeople who are doing amazing things in the field. They are innovative, they create value and push hard to improve their company so they can take even better care of their clients. The sad thing is that there is no process to identify it and replicate it. Teamwork is critically important. It allows the group to exchange ideas, share best practices, work on innovative projects and draw upon each other’s strengths. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do we have regular sales-specific meetings that cross division/reporting responsibility lines?
- Do we have a process for sharing market intelligence?
- Do we have the ability to ensure continuous improvement with every call plan, proposal or account strategy?
Intelligence: This doesn’t refer to IQ. Intelligence in this sense refers to that fact the sales person needs to use their talent and teamwork wisely. They need to know when to speak and when (and how) to ask questions during a sales call. They need to understand the operating reality of their client and ensure that the message they are delivering is impactful to them. They need to build strong relationships and become trusted advisors. Talented salespeople, no matter their age or tenure, are always willing to hone their craft. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do we have a sales process and methodology that will allow my team to know when to draw upon specific skills?
- Do we have a focus on continuous improvement?
- Have we trained everyone on value creation?
If you answered no to most of the questions in this series, then your solution to a successful sales team may be simpler than you think. Don’t wait for things to change or for people to leave. Don’t continue to do things the same way and expect different results for it was Albert Einstein that coined that the definition of insanity.
Talent, Teamwork and Intelligence can be achieved. We can help. Butler Street’s focus is on a building a system of reinforcing activities that will allow you to answer yes to all of the above questions. You will find you yourself loving your sales team again. More importantly, your clients will love your sales team, too!
Mary Ann McLaughlin serves as a Managing Partner at Butler Street, a leading management consulting, training and research firm that focuses on client and talent development. Prior to Butler Street, she served in executive roles for 13 years including chief operating officer, president and managing director. A Six Sigma Champion certified executive, McLaughlin leverages her robust process background with 32 years of sales and operational experience.
A recreational triathlete, McLaughlin has completed three marathons (Chicago 2x, Marine Corps) and numerous triathlons. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Bradley University.