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How to manage a sales team

The first step in managing a sales team is to give clear, specific expectations on what you expect from them. The best way to start is to establish Key Performance Indicators “KPIs” that are activity based and results based.  We find that less is more in setting KPIs and that three KPIs is about all you need.  The three KPIs that we use is the number of introductory calls each sales team member has per month, the number of discovery calls or demo done by each salesperson each month, and the total dollar amount of closed sales.

KPIs are intended to measure the major milestones in a sales process that helps you coach team members on what they need to get better out to move the sales process along to a closed sale.  For example, if your sales team member is not getting enough introductory calls each month, it typically means that they are not following up on their leads or using the wrong script to set up an introductory call.  Listen in on their appointment setting calls and provide them direction on what they need to improve on in order to get introductory calls.

The second KPI, discovery meetings set, is to determine how well a salesperson can convert an introductory call into a discovery meeting. The introductory call should be where the salesperson forms a relationship with the lead by asking them questions about everyone’s favorite subject…THEMSELVES.  If the salesperson asks their lead about what they like about their job, what is going well, and what are some opportunities for improvement is the right manner, then converting a large majority of the introductory calls into a discovery meeting or a demo should not be difficult.

The last thing to measure is closed sales.  Now, you and I both know that a salesperson cannot make anyone write a check for your services.  However, the variables that a salesperson can control is how well they teach their prospects on how their product or service can fix their business challenge, how often they follow up on their prospects, what they say when they follow up, and whether or not they ask for the order.

Most salespeople only follow up on their prospects 2-3 times after sending a proposal.  Often, it takes 7 to 12 follow ups before a prospect signs on the dotted line.  Also, most salespeople send the proposal without ever asking for the business.   Find out how your salespeople are following up on their leads and prospects and whether or not they are asking for the order.

Now, let’s put the numbers aside and bring to the forefront a very important concept.  Here it is:  you cannot transform a lap dog into a hunting dog.  This means that you get what you tolerate.  The right salespeople will want to be held accountable and want to succeed by their actions.  Why companies hold on to salespeople that make excuses instead of reasons to succeed are beyond me.  You get what you tolerate.  Do not tolerate salespeople that are not willing to follow your process and don’t do the tasks necessary to generate sales for you.

Effective salespeople want to be held accountable and consume coaching and ways to improve.  Good salespeople also are continuously learning on how to improve their sales techniques and are driven to succeed.  If they do not have this internal drive, do not think for a minute that you are going to install it in them.