Are salespeople born or made? I think they're generally made. Some are born with some natural abilities, but it's a system that makes great salespeople.
The reality is: most people, salespeople included, will take the path of least resistance to get things done. And that's not always the best path. This is due to people falling into the wrong habits. Having a system and a set of expectations helps develop a new set of habits that are essential to producing extraordinary performance.
There are 3 steps you can take to create great salespeople and supercharge sales performance:
- Setting expectations
- Managing activities
- Analyzing results
1. Setting Expectations
Generally speaking, sales teams are fairly motivated, but setting expectations for them can go a long way for improving their performance. You can use your previous year’s sales data to create goals for your team, based on rates of conversion. In addition to these goals, your sales teams should know what the qualification criteria is as well. In order to reach their goals, they need to make sure they are bidding on the jobs that are the ideal size. Of course, they may also bid on jobs that are larger or smaller, but there should be an average job size you want your sales team to focus on winning.
Setting expectations involves more than simply telling your sales team how much they need to sell, and it includes creating tasks to achieve those goals (essentially a set of targets they must meet through activities).
2. Managing Activities
To advance a deal forward and get a decision (won/lost), there are five key steps: prospect, qualify, propose, follow up, and close. So, building up prospects and qualifying them, spending the time to build a proposal, and then following up to get a decision.
The goal of these activities is one of two things: advance the deal to the next step or get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ so you can clear your calendar for other work that will enable you hit the target and the goal.
There’s a popular phrase that says, “if you can't see it, you can't manage it.” To effectively manage sales activities, it’s necessary to break them down into tasks on a calendar or in a system like Aspire. This creates a weekly plan that is core to sales and sales management. It’s what you do that gets you the results. And when you look at the expectations established in the first step, there’s little time to waste. It’s important to not just have a packed calendar but rather an organized calendar that details what actually happened during the week, which becomes an important part of the system that helps with organization, management, and training.
Having a calendar full of tasks and appointments enables you to see where time is being spent.
3. Analyzing Results
Analyzing results is about asking questions and determining how to improve the process. There are three questions to answer in this step:
- What have we done since the last time we had this conversation, and how has it contributed to the pipeline?
- Did we make progress in the deal, or did we get a decision (won/lost)?
- Is the forecast better or worse?
The responses to these questions affect how you continue managing opportunities. Do you need to go back and revisit our calendar for next week to address a struggling pipeline, or are you on track to meeting your goals? This tactical working process, based off activities and pipeline activity, keeps the salesperson and sales manager up to date on all activities relating to deals while keeping prospects moving down the sales funnel.
Clerical duties can also help determine how well you and your sales team will perform. Salespeople move fast and with as hard as they're hustling to hit their proposals per week, setting the expectations and tasks shows the team where to focus their time.
Also, encourage your sales team to act proactively. The time it takes to make a note and create a task is so minimal but the benefit from taking these steps is key to success and doing the right things at the right time.
Lastly, it’s important to teach your teams about things they can do on their own to further their own success. Engrave positive habits into your salespeople, such as:
- Be prepared – Plan out what you’re going say and the agenda that you want to cover, no matter how simple the meeting.
- Have a pitch – Something that’s short, sweet, and answers the question: Why you?
- Work easy to hard – Start with the easy one, because even those are difficult. Work up to the hard ones so that by the time you get to them, you're in a groove, you're in a flow, and your skin is quite a bit thicker.
- Block out time – Blocking periods of time to work on specific activities keeps you focused and prevents jumping from task to task without accomplishing anything.
- Shut up – If you feel like you may be talking too much or having an out-of-body experience, stop and ask a question. Give the client a chance to speak.
- Be direct – The goal is to get a decision or advance to the next activity.
Selling is all about building the plan, executing the plan, and reviewing the results. Learn more about this topic by watching our recent webinar, Supercharging Sales Performance, in the recording below.