Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ingenious Sales Management:7 Ways to Promote a High-Performing Culture

Often, salespeople are viewed like standard employees.  They’re asked to answer the phone when it rings, handle paperwork, and do a myriad of tasks unrelated to selling.  The rationale by the rest of the staff for having the salespeople handle these duties is: “they’re already in the office; why not assign them to do it?” 

Your salespeople have only a few hours in the day to get in front of customers.  As their manager, it's your job to help them maximize their selling time.  This means implementing processes that allow them to focus only on sales-related duties.

By instituting only a few guidelines, you’ll be on your way to creating a high-performance culture and readying your organization for an inevitable spike in revenue.

Here are 7 steps to promote an environment that nurtures and creates top performers:

  1. Focus on results, not activities
    When you bring in a new hire, you must supervise them to ensure they are performing at the right activity level to meet quota.  But once they’ve proven themselves, shift your focus to results, not activity.  Your best salespeople can spend a few hours on the golf course and bring in a huge win.  If a rep consistently surpasses quota, do you care how many calls he made or how much he's in the office?  Drill down to activity only when one of your reps miss his productivity goal.  Then work with him to improve deficient areas.
  2. Monitor unobtrusively
    In the next post, we'll develop metrics based on your sales process.  Employ a cloud based web solution like Salesforce.com or another Customer Relationship Manager.  It will enable you to unobtrusively monitor transactions and generate metrics.  This way your reps can worry less about writing reports and maximize their time in front of prospects.
  3. Individual continual improvement by drill training
    Use the results of your reports to determine weak areas and share these with your rep.  Next week I'll share how to derive each rep's performance measures. And later I’ll explain how you can use drill training to train deficiencies. Your reps will prefer this type of training because they can see how it directly impacts their pay.
  4. Pay ratcheted commission on total volume
    Setup your commission percentages to escalate as they increase sales.  Let’s assume a rep’s quota is 500K per quarter.  And you pay 5% commission on sales at that level.  At 750K, increase it to 6% commission.  If you pay higher commissions on the entire volume, not just the incremental difference, you will powerfully motivate your reps to shoot for each next level.  An extra 1% of increased commission on the entire volume will drive your reps to shoot for the next level.  And the next, and the next.  They’ll be motivated to hit successive levels.
  5. Delegate non-selling tasks
    Maximize selling time.  Remove anything that doesn’t contribute directly to the sales process.  Transfer administrative chores to an hourly employee.  Don’t interfere with face time in front of prospective clients.  The increased earnings your laser-focused reps bring in will more than offset the labor cost.  Minimize sales meetings: use technology to collaborate and keep meetings short and positive.  Announce new wins and offer motivating training.  Make non-urgent announcements using email or departmental bulletin board.
  6. Embrace virtualization
    Your salespeople need to be out of the office, not polishing their chair with their rumps.  Create performance-based, not time-based policies.  Support their choice as to how they bring in business and make their schedule flexible unless it’s impractical to do so.  If you’re worried about giving them too much latitude, apportioning increased freedom as their sales increase is a great motivator.  Inbound call center reps can handle calls from home with a remote connection.
  7. Trumpet victories
    Salespeople are ego-driven.  Announce major wins at the end of sales meetings.  Appoint “Salesperson of the Month” type awards based on productivity.  Your reps will appreciate the accolades  even though they seem cheesy.  Organize a President’s Club.  If you can afford it, present coveted awards for overachievers: a vacation trip to a great place they’ll talk about all next year.  This will set the tone for future incoming employees.
A tip: First-class travel and accommodations at a domestic resort is much more coveted than an economy trip to an exotic isle.

It's your job as sales manager to shield your people. A portion of that is deciding how you think your sales department should be run and persuading management to let you do it. Most senior managers who haven't been in sales don't know the first thing about how to run a sales department. It's your job to explain it to them. If you succeed in instituting the above items, you'll find your workplace productivity soaring and you’ll be breaking records in no time.  You’ll also notice your job will become much easier because your reps will not be around the office stirring up trouble.

In Thursday's article, we’ll discuss a great method to create a self-running organization while lightening your schedule to give you more free time.  And next week I’ll share Ingenious Sales Training to further improve the overall productivity of your office.  If you embrace the principles of these four sales management articles, you should be earning respect from your peers and supervisor soon.  It’s all coming up in the next week so stay tuned.  Until then,

profitable business All!

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