Selling is hard work. Even though the economy is showing signs of turning around and sales organizations are ramping up their efforts, there are still significant challenges to overcome. Sales representatives are taking on bigger territories, facing higher quotas, and making more customer contacts than ever -- but according to my company's latest study, fewer than 55% of sales representatives make quota.
Confronted with this gauntlet of challenges, where should sales reps go for support, revitalization, encouragement, and guidance to be successful? Sales reps should be turning to their sales leaders and managers -- in the same study mentioned above, we found that having a defined and measured sales management system improves the likelihood of Sales achieving quota by as much as 23%.
By focusing the sales manager’s behavior in the right ways, you can create a system that revolutionizes entire teams. One effective sales manager can impact 10 sales representatives at a time -- sometimes more -- which can lead to an exponential growth in revenue and a 21% improvement in the accuracy of your forecast.
That being said, not all sales managers are equipped to drive exponential team growth. Our study above revealed that a general state of role confusion is handicapping sales teams everywhere. According to the study, sales managers today believe their effectiveness hinges on the traits they model for the rest of the team -- competencies like communication, organization, confidence, and time management skills. Meanwhile, not a single representative in the study identified any of the same factors when describing the ideal manager.
Instead, sales representatives say they need someone who understands their individual needs and can help them get better at the behaviors necessary to meet and surpass their quotas; someone who can extract and share the current team best practices so that everyone can benefit from them. Most of all, they are looking for predictable, reliable, and proven-in-the-field coaching to help them better identify and solve customer needs.
The billion-dollar question is: How should organizations empower sales managers to become coaching powerhouses?
The solution begins by equipping sales managers with a solid set of coaching disciplines built around a tightly integrated sales cadence (the sales managers' process of working with their sales reps). A sales cadence defines how and when the sales process rolls out, identifies where and how coaching will take place, and also captures vital information to be used to quickly respond to changing performance and market conditions. The secret to success is to go beyond the typical one-and-done training model and instead, provide the organization with a fully realized high-performance sales management system.
How to Create a High-Performance Sales Management System
The heart of a high-performance sales management system is a coaching program -- both at the team and individual levels. The overall system is divided into three areas, each area with a unique set of disciplines for the sales manager to initiate with team members. Each discipline is a type of meeting designed to resolve issues and establish solutions immediately. Instead of going back-and-forth for hours over email, sales managers should employ these nine disciplines to better coach their sales team.
Area 1: Coaching the Team as a Group
The first four disciplines of a sales management system revolve around teaching the sales team in a group:
1) Pipeline Update Meetings: Produce a clean, accurate pipeline for the entire team to set a solid foundation for the month's workflow.
2) Sales Meetings: Align the sales team by discussing team successes, goals, and the state of the industry.
3) Learning Huddles: Boost the entire team's skills by discussing best practices around specific topics or tools.
4) Daily Results Calls: Inspire sales reps to meet fast-approaching deadlines by checking on their progress and offering advice on how to meet them.
Area 2: Coaching Individual Sales Representatives
The next four disciplines focus on coaching the sales representative as an individual, which is the most desired type of training:
5) Forecast 1:1 Meetings: Develop an accurate and predictable near-term sales forecast by discussing leads and opportunities that may close within the current reporting period.
6) Pipeline 1:1 Meetings: Build long-term pipeline health by discussing potential leads and opportunities that may close outside the current reporting period.
7) Ride Along Calls: Observe sales reps on their calls to help coach and plan for their future development.
8) Sales 1:1 Meetings: Provide comprehensive coaching for success beyond the day-to-day feedback. In these meetings, you can review progress, discuss strategies, set goals, praise successes, and teach from failures.
Area 3: Managing Up
The final discipline revolves around communicating with sales leadership to align the entire sales organization:
9) Executive Review: Report the sales team's progress to leadership to establish accountability and strategic alignment across the entire sales organization.
Sales managers who have made these nine disciplines the focus of their coaching program routinely see immediate, significant growth in open opportunities, speed to close, total sales volume, wins, and top line revenue.
I know every company will execute these disciplines according to a formula that makes the most sense for the business they are in and the markets they serve. However, one thing is certain: The pathway to growth for any sales organization is clearly mapped out in these nine disciplines. They will enable your team to achieve the immediate and sustained growth your business needs to excel, no matter what condition the economy is in.
This is a guest post by Walter Rogers, co-founder and CEO of CloudCoaching International.
Want to uncover more sales secrets to grow your business? Join Walter and fellow CloudCoaching International Co-Founder Tony Robbins, HubSpot SVP of Sales and Services Mark Roberge, and CSO Insights Managing Partner Barry Trailer on May 22nd at 2:00 p.m. ET for an exclusive webinar about uncovering hidden obstacles, fixing broken processes, and aligning sales and marketing strategies.