When evaluating salespeople, it's important to remember the role you have as a manager. The effective coaching and training that you give your teams, as well as their success—or not—also reflects your performance measurement.
- As a sales manager, I've often said that when you break things down to the basic facts, we're only as good as the products or services our companies give us to sell. Then, equally important, is our team of sales representatives and account managers that report to us. Candidly, our reputation and success rides on those two key elements. However, although we do have input into the development of products and services, we're 100% responsible for the salespeople that report to us.
A sales team that's not communicating well, getting weak feedback from customers, and missing revenue targets means we're not doing a good job as managers either. When we first hear the topic of performance measurement and reporting, we normally immediately think of leads developed, close rates, objectives completed, and most importantly, revenue targets reached and surpassed. Those are the critical pieces. However, since we do have that 100% responsibility of the sales team, it places even more critical importance on the coaching and training we provide.
That needs to start the day you hire someone. Each of our companies should have a plan in place for the training of new staff. For the sales department, if it's not done by you, it may be handled by the corporate trainer or an outside consultant hired to manage that task. However, we still need to play the key lead role in the direction of all training programs. We're responsible for the sales team and their results, so then we must own the training and development of each individual.
My view is that sales training must include these six key components. First we have sales process. This is whatever sales methodology you feel works best for your industry and product or service. I believe that mastering the basics of the seven to 10 step plan is ideal. However, you may want to use some more advanced methodologies. And then product or service knowledge. Pretty straightforward, but our teams have to be more than just comfortable presenting our company's products or services.
Also, collaborative selling. In this competitive marketplace, the best organizations know how to have other departments brought into the sales process to help close business. The days of the sales department not endorsing the team approach needs to be an issue of the past. Next, communication. Customer relationship management software has become such an important tool for making sales teams better organized and efficient.
It also helped improve the interaction with other departments and made our lives better with improved forecasting. Also consider expenses and financial. As sales people, we've always been measured by our expense control management. However, I also feel training in profit and loss analysis makes our teams more well rounded and professional. And individual coaching. This is a part of our job descriptions as managers.
Each sales person is different with their own strengths and weaknesses. The better we can regularly guide them to improve their skills, the stronger our entire team will be. A development plan for each is a wise investment. Tough decisions. This is not a part of the six components, but needs to be added to our coaching and training evaluations. As managers, we need to make tough decisions and changes sooner when we don't see sales representatives improving.
The foundation we build with our sales organization to create a strong and ongoing training and coaching regiment is a critical piece of our management responsibility. If done well, it enables them to be stronger and better sales professionals. Their performance measurement and evaluation, along with ours, will be closely linked to the effectiveness of our commitment to this important obligation.
- Coaching and training
- Handling performance appraisals
- Forecasting targets
- Measuring metrics