The pandemic brought about many changes and challenges which affected the ability of sales to hit targets. In fact, Hubspot reports 60% of sales leaders anticipate their team won’t hit quota by the year end. Many sales leaders have responded by seeking to find solutions within their own practice. However, in sales, success comes from the team rather than a solo effort. Turning attention to increasing the team skill-level is often a more effective for hitting targets. Although some sales managers shy away from coaching, it may not be as difficult a task as it sounds.
Salestrong recommends ‘focusing on potential, rather than existing performance’ as ‘average performers have potential to become high performers.’ Focusing on what is needed to close this gap is more likely to have a positive effect on profits than anything else a sales manager does.
Here are our suggestions to get sales leaders started and help them really make an impact.
Before looking at individual performance, ask yourself if you are creating an environment in which the team can thrive. This is less about the physical working space but more about the ambience and culture.
Employees are proven work harder and be better motivated in environments with a positive, supportive atmosphere. It’s also important that team members feel they can be honest about their performance and challenges. Adopting an open-door policy encourages everyone to express their concerns freely. This will develop an environment of transparency, support and trust.
Whilst meetings and presentations take place, take a moment to gauge the emotional atmosphere. Is it constructive and encouraging? Highly formal or critical? How do you imagine your team feels when they go through these routine events? Asking these questions helps sales leaders identify what needs to be changed.
Take stock also of how much time is devoted to staff development. Hubspot found that, although lack of coaching is linked to low quotas, a surprising 23% of sales managers spend less than 30 mins on this activity each week.
Are the sales team regularly informed of targets? Doing this daily helps keep them focused. As well as targets, include behaviours you want to encourage, such as following up leads or preparing for sales calls.
Employees are more motivated to improve when leaders create a continuous learning culture. This can be created by encouraging staff to take courses, suggesting useful reading, giving opportunities to attend conferences and by sharing good practice with the team.
Identify and Close Skills Gaps
According to Hubspot, the most valued traits sales managers want to see in their team members are problem solving, relationship building, critical thinking, confidence and oral communication including listening skills. Skills you want to develop in your team may also be suggested by the attitudes, habits and approaches of high-performing team members which can be shared to raise overall performance.
Before planning coaching, it therefore makes sense to evaluate each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. This can also allow you to identify potential mentoring partnerships where a strong team member can train others, reducing pressure on leaders and saving time. A recent Forbes article revealed that 71% of Fortune 500 Companies use mentoring to upskill staff.
Leaders should also consider evaluating themselves as role models. Being seen to practice what you preach makes leaders more likely to be taken seriously. If you are asking your team to develop a capability that is not part of your repertoire, admit that you also want to improve your own performance. This fosters the impression that learning is valued and develops camaraderie.
Once you have set out what capabilities you want the team to develop, construct a practice environment in which to conduct role-play. Having the opportunity to put new skills into practice in a risk-free environment helps individuals recall their learning more effectively. This makes it more likely that what was learned will be executed in real sales situations.
Role-play should cover all situations where a skill needs to be used, from initial meetings to closing. Giving feedback and opportunities to attempt new skills multiple times in role play helps team members develop confidence and feel supported.
Support New Hires
Hiring high-performers is no guarantee that they’ll perform equally well in their new environment. Sales onboarding is essential to equip sales people with the knowledge they need to hit the ground running. It should also help new sellers get acquainted with the company culture and what is expected of their roles.
If, like 62% of organisations (according to Sales & Marketing Management) you feel your current sales onboarding is ineffective, start by creating guides on the most important aspects of the core business with more detail on their specific role. Sales leaders should also map out a timeline of training and milestones that sales people must perform in their roles.
Effective onboarding accelerates productivity and increases the chances that new sales employees will stay long-term.
Effective Sales Leaders
Sales Performance Consultant Pascale Hall sums up the worth of focusing on sales team skills. ‘By taking the initiative and proactively working to become a better coach, you will elevate not only your own performance, but that of your team, and by extension, your organization.’
Are you looking for a Sales Leader with the confidence and experience to effectively coach your sales team? Wireless Mobile International Search is a specialist search company who have successfully recruited high-calibre Sales Leaders across all territories globally. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can match candidates to your specific requirements.