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5 Steps To Get Sales Teams Focused

During a meeting with a new client, several old topics cropped up. Since I seem to run into these issues quite often, I thought it would be good to address them on this blog.

The client has been growing -- not at an aggressive pace, but slowly -- and the sales organization was in chaos, working opportunistically on various sales deals and randomly in the marketplace. The result: The delivery organization is bogged down, low profitability and no insights into the pipeline or sales activity.

While I don't have the space to fully outline each of my recommended actions to the client, here are the five necessary actions to increase the level of focus. 

First, inspect what you expect. As the president or VP of sales, your job is to ensure that the sales team is acting in the manner you expect. Can the team sell your company effectively? Can it discuss your products/services professionally? Is it working intelligently? Is it focused on increasing skill levels?

Second, determine whether your sales team accurately and consistently uses your CRM software. I often find that reports are inaccurate because the salespeople are not fully trained on how to use the software, or are not focused on how to enter certain data properly. CRM training should take place each quarter.

Third, "working smart" is smart. Have you determined the ideal profile of your most profitable clients (i.e., their top five characteristics), and is your marketing and sales team focused on finding and selling them? Both of these will increase the velocity of your order pattern and profitability. Your messaging must also be aligned to these prospects. Check out your competitors' Web sites to determine how their messaging compares to yours.

Fourth, ask yourself whether you are focused on penetrating your existing accounts. Rather than creating salesperson business plans, which I discussed my post on forecasting for the second half of the year, this particular client will be implementing "account planning." Account planning should be done quarterly with each salesperson creating a standardized plan for X-number of clients. The exercise asks each salesperson to describe their relationship with and knowledge of the account. The key is the sales manager and salesperson must agree on the account strategy and five tactical actions the salesperson will act on to further penetrate or even sell the account. Like the salesperson business plan, each account plan is presented to the entire sales team.

Fifth, build a recipe for your business. Frequent readers of my blog know of my "gourmet living" program that assists people in finding their ingredients for success. At my client's office, we are in the process of determining what leading indicators of future business are appropriate to track and what level of actions by the salesperson are necessary to ensure they exceed quota. For example, for this client with an "inside sales team," we simply went into the phone logs to identify how many calls per day were made by each salesperson. With remote salespeople it instantly showed extremely low volumes of activity. Focus on managing the details.

These five steps are only the basics, but by focusing on them, your business will improve -- guaranteed! What are your recommendations for other actions?

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM