News flash – your team’s sales quota is about to go up, not down. So the question you should be asking yourself is, “how can I motivate and inspire each of my salespeople to produce at higher levels?” Here are five sales management strategies you can use to achieve consistent revenue growth:
1. Emulate the best coach you ever had
In the past, when I’ve asked participants in our sales management seminars to describe what made the favorite coach from their past great, the answers I have received have generally shared a common trend. That is, their favorite coach was someone who they felt was committed to their success. It is the effort that these prior coaches put into communicating and connecting with their teams which the members of those teams later remembered.
Rather than being the sales coach who turns up only when a mistake is made or there is a bad outcome, and thereby becoming associated with failure, instead work to be the coach committed to knowing each individual member of your team and what their individual strengths and needs are. If you regularly touch base to observe and offer feedback on these strengths and weaknesses, your team members will come to realize that you believe deeply in their success.
2. Be a proactive sales coach
Here’s a simple truth that no experienced sales manager can possibly disagree with – Many salespeople see themselves as being more effective than they actually are. And that means they may be making mistakes that they may not even know about, and they’re making these mistakes again and again. Salespeople who think they are better than they actually are – these are salespeople who will not come to you to ask for coaching.
Far too many managers sit back and wait until a rep’s results tank before recognizing the problem and rushing in to “coach’em-up.” Trouble is, your coaching arrives much too late and far removed from the mistakes the rep made which caused the problem(s) in the first place.
Resolve here and now to be a proactive sales coach in 2017. Take coaching to your salespeople! Everybody on your team can get better from your coaching, even your better producers. But only you can make it happen.
3. Re-motivate salespeople who have developed a lousy attitude
Sales managers tell me that well over half of the sales performance problems they deal with have, as an underlying cause, a rep with a bad attitude. So helping a sales rep who has become demotivated to move past their problem is a critical sales management skill to master.
Sometimes, what a demotivated or uninspired salesperson really needs is an honest conversation. Try to avoid passing judgment or jumping to conclusions. Rather, make specific observations of what you’ve noticed, and open the floor to your salesperson to discuss what problems or concerns they may have.
Your demotivated rep has become distracted by something and you don’t know what it is. It could be anything from recent changes in a compensation plan or a territory realignment. Or it could be a problem in their personal life. You must first find out what that reason is and then discuss the impact it is having on their performance. By the end of the conversation you want to reconnect the linkage between more positive behaviors and their personal goals.
4. Set a Big & Bold Team Sales Goal for 2017
There is an inclination of many sales managers to set modest goals. The problem with this is, as Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we make it.” Playing it safe does not do much to motivate anyone.
This is why setting a big and bold goal for the new year is so important. That is, your sales goal should be one well beyond anything the sum-total of each individual on your team has previously accomplished. The effort to reach this new goal – and the message to everyone to “beat your best in 2017” – will require a great push. But with a big goal you communicate to your team that each individual contributor can get better.
5. Have a career development discussion with each of your top performers
The loss of just one peak performing salesperson in 2017 can be devastating to your team’s sales results. Because annual sales compensation “kickers” for 2016 have only recently been attained, January is a customary time for salespeople to contemplate their future.
Your salespeople are far more likely to stay with a manager who shows sincere interest in their career development. Get ahead of this problem now by holding 1-on-1 career development discussions. Ask questions that are targeted at providing career development beyond promotions. Here are two great questions from my “Career Development Discussion Planner:”
- Two or three years from now, where would you like to be professionally?
- What would you need to achieve now to accomplish this?
Kevin F. Davis is the author of the forthcoming book, “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top,” now available for pre-order through Amazon.com here “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”