Sales Management Excellence: 5 Ways to Increase Sales Today

Author : RandalOrvis
Publish Date : 2021-05-28


Sales Management Excellence: 5 Ways to Increase Sales Today

How can you increase sales today? That's a challenge I hear frequently from sales management. If you have a competitive product, your only limitation is creative thinking.

Here's a story to illustrate a point. Einstein taught at Princeton for 22 years. Every night the janitor, who cleaned his classroom, would find the blackboard filled with complex equations. At the bottom of the blackboard was the word erase. In the upper right corner of the blackboard Einstein always wrote: 1 + 1=2. Below that was written: Save. Intellectuals have theorized that Einstein favored the creative mind, but always encouraged everyone to begin with the basics. That's good thinking for improving sales, too!

What are the leadership basics that consistently driving sales improvements?

First, make sure you have clear expectations and goals. 80% of performance issues relate to this. In one organization, the management had the goals but the sale team were only knew what their goals where not that of the company. Ensure that your goals are clear for your team and each individual. With each sales rep have a conversation about these goals and how they tie into their personal goals. Always make sure the goals are documented.

Second, when was the last time you did "hardcore" sales training? I am talking about going through your sales process, objection handling, product presentations and closing techniques. The best sales training involves experiential activities: role-play, simulation, case studies and assessments. The best sales training is also conducted month in and month out. Why? Because salespeople are like athletes that need to hone their skills daily to become champions. Few organizations do sales training like this today.

Third, make coaching your greatest strength. When do you coach? Every day. How do you coach? Formally and informally. Formal coaching involves weekly one on one sessions to review goals, plans and results. Informal coaching is about all your daily contact with reps: phone, email, text, meetings, etc. These need to used to reinforce positive behaviors and goals. Athletes train 10,000 hours in four years to participate in the Olympic Games. All of them have coaches that are daily giving them feedback, training, support and encouragement to perform at higher levels. If the best of the best do this and need this, why wouldn't you want to engage your sales team like this as well?

Fourth, lead with flexibility. Everyone needs goals, plans, training and coaching.Teach your trainees. Inspire your stars. Motivate your reliable performers. Take the time to understand each rep: family, background, strengths, weaknesses, dreams and interests. Customize your interaction with each person. Give direction and support as needed tuned into each person's capabilities and hot buttons.

Fifth, provide helpful feedback. It's one thing to say to a rep-sell more or I will fire you. It's much more effective to say-Martha let's look at your numbers and result. What do you notice? You are right, the sales activity is low compared to others. Do you see anything else?... Let me add, that your sales meetings are with more non-targeted prospects. Let me show you. Wouldn't you agree you need to change that. Give timely, specific and helpful feedback and your reps will respond more positively. All great achievers have coaches that have done this for them. That's why feedback is called the "breakfast of champions."

These five strategies are the basics that power successful selling in reps. Too many sales managers are lacking in the knowledge, skill and execution to do these well. Be a student of the game in these areas and you will out distance your competitors and cultivate a sales team that reaches exceptional sales goals.
It's been said that some salespeople make things happen, some watch things happen, and some wonder what's happening. The difference lies in having a strategy and leading a team to execute it effectively.

Strategy is a plan to deploy resources in a way that brings your strength to bear on the opponent's weakness, creating momentum that leads to victory.

You can win without a strategy. It's called luck. Direct salespeople are paid to make their own luck. You can get luck with a Web site.

The models of strategy descend from (like it or not) military history. In the last few years, many business executives and military leaders have been studying classical leaders' strategic models to determine the models of strategy, which can be applied to company or marketing-level strategies of today. We do this because the models are timeless; the application is situational. It requires allegorical thinking. Models allow us to anticipate future events and to communicate that vision. Intuitive or "natural" salespeople or managers without mental models may have trouble leading a sales team because they don't know why they are good and can't transfer that knowledge to someone else.

Classical historical strategy drives market strategy; market strategy drives industry or territory strategy. At the sales level, it is critical we strategize at four different levels:

· THE INDUSTRY MARKET LEVEL

· THE ENTERPRISE LEVEL

· THE OPPORTUNITY LEVEL

· THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL

Only then can you drive a complex sale strategy in its entirety. Each level requires different technique, talent, and technology that can communicate the enterprise strategic account plan worldwide.

WHY STRATEGIES FAIL

Knowledge is power; the more you know earlier, the more advantage you can have. It's amazing how little most business developers know about their accounts after months of involvement and considerable resources.

Failure is the seed of learning. By studying why strategies fail, we learn how to make them succeed.

One of the major reasons strategies fail is poor information. There is not a general out there who wouldn't trade troops for better knowledge of where the enemy is and which way they're headed. That's why spies are so important. In the Persian Gulf War, our initial strikes were to knock out the information and command centers and blind the opposition.

Another reason for strategic failure is no strategyat all. Imagine a quarterback in American football coming out on the field and having a huddle. The team asks what the play is and he says "I don't know, let's just go for it." (We've all been in those presentations.) If the quarterback calls the snap and fades back to pass and the rest of the team is going out for an end run, this person is going to get footprints all over his body. Effective power comes when the entire team knows the plan and can execute it, with timing, together.

Another fatal error is not having a plan B. Some leaders plan only for the best possible outcome and assume how the competition will react. They don't test their plan and develop alternatives. The speed of change in marketing and sales today is so fast that a rigid, inflexible, or static plan will result in defeat.

Speed of information drives speed of strategy drives competitive advantage. By the time you win an opportunity, you may be on plan D, E, or F. This doesn't mean we should be indecisive. There must be a conscious reanalysis and coaching process for absorbing new information and processing it into new strategies, tactics, and actions.

Other sources of failure include poor execution. Patton said a good plan violently executed beats a perfect plan we're constantly thinking about. He also realized that speed gives the opponent less time to perfect their plan and defenses.

Strategies also fail because of bad timing- the right thing done at the wrong time, too late, too little, or even too early. Because issues and politics change, a time-based strategy is essential to victory.

The inability to have a process for absorbing new information and generating new accurate strategies can often lead to indecision, poor priorities, or waffling, all of which can prove fatal. IBM's response to the justice department's attempt to break them up resulted in not two but three strategies that were not a migration path for the client but were competing strategies, leading to their decline in the 1980's.

A classic principle of strategy is not to divide your forces in the face of a superior foe - spreading yourself too thin. Multiple strategies can work. The allies did it successfully in World War II. But it requires more resources, clear priorities, and decisive leadership.

The last source of strategic failure in sales is failure to pursue the battle won. "Hit-and-run selling" or "drive-by selling" is when you get inside the walls, then leave for the next opportunity rather than selling from the inside out.

The best account managers use opportunity management in tandem with account strategy. Why? Because real profitability comes from shorter sales cycles and better margins on repeat business after you gained access, built trust, and reduced risk.

A DYNAMIC STRATEGIC PLANNING MODEL

Patton said, "Luck favors the man in motion." By this he meant that the person in motion not only keeps his or her opponent off balance and unable to process new strategies but in the process of action, he or she finds out more information faster than the enemy.

The information processing cycle is known by fighter pilots; they live and die by it. In the movie Top Gun, Kelly McGillis asks Tom Cruise, "What were you thinking up there?" His reply was, "You don't have time to think. You take time to think up there, you're dead." By that he meant it must be habit and reflex. The pilot must have all the models in his head to be able to process strategy instantaneously.

Many salespeople don't process this at all. They pick a company and product strategy and plod straight ahead until they either win or lose. If you could always win on company and product, why do you need salespeople? Most salespeople don't know when to trigger alternative strategies. Those who do, win more often.

DYNAMIC, FLEXIBLE STRATEGY

The first step in the strategic process is information. The more we know - about the competition, the decision-making process, the politics, and the client's needs - the better we will be able to formulate a more accurate strategy.

Information drives strategy. Then you need a vision of victory. Salespeople need a mental picture and map of how they plan to win. They also need electronic communication tools to get it out of their head and into the teams' heads. Then the team needs effective presentation skills and graphics tools to get the benefits out of their heads and into the prospects' heads.

Next you need to set goalsand objectives. These terms get switched around semantically, but a goal is more general than an objective. An objective defines what you want to do in measurable quantities and is date-driven. It is less important what you call it than that you have one and execute it well.

Setting a clear objective is essential to defining the strategy. If we don't know where we're going, any road will do. Covey says, "Start with the end in mind."

Strategyis how you intend to achieve the objective; it's your plan of attack. It is how you plan to allocate resources, what you're going to sell to whom, where, and when. Tactics are the day-to-day detail actions you do to execute the longer-term strategy.

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