Articles providing practical, field-tested advice to sales professionals.

Location: Houston, Texas, United States

Friday, June 10, 2005

Developing & Measuring - Salespeople & Management (Part 1)

Salespeople need help and management needs help in helping them.

If management is to improve sales productivity and profitability for their company, they must be able to better develop and measure their professional revenue producers.

  • What can we do to maintain and increase sales?
  • How can we beat the competition?
  • How can we get new salespeople more productive faster?
  • Is the quality of our salespeople as good as the quality of our product/service?

In today’s competitive market, these questions face every manager. The answers lie in a highly effective process for developing and measuring our sales professionals.

Clearly, our objective must be to teach salespeople the arts of conviction and motivation so thoroughly that they know them well enough to be able to use them in their day-to-day selling. Self-confidence comes from knowing specifically what to do and exactly how to do it.

The soul of professional salesmanship is knowledge, skill and style! If you are not completely happy with your current sales and earnings, this may be a good time to invest in your professional revenue producers.

Today’s sales professionals want the self-confidence that comes form knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. What they really want to learn is how to structure a comple professional sales presentation in the proper psychological sequence to achieve maximum motivation appeal. Why aren’t we giving them what they want?

Have you ever wondered what the ideal state-of-the-art professionally structured sales presentation of your product to your prospect would sound like?

If, indeed you are serious about improving “the most important three feet in your business” this may be a good time to invest in your differential advantage – your people! If these people did not need a manager - then they would the manager.

There are two halves to this canoe: (1) developing, and (2) measuring the successful salesforce… they must complement each other.

Successful businesses manage the sales process, not just the salesperson.

Few executive managers understand that they drive the sales process to either success or failure.

Success comes from the establishing of a series of effective actions, and failure comes from failing to establish the chain of actions that would have worked reliably and consistently had they properly established the “sales effectiveness” framework.

The first means of measuring an individual who sells is to establish within the business, a strategy which the salesforce will be expected to follow. Without strategic direction, the salesforce may sell the wrong things to the right people for the wrong price and thereby o irreparable harm to the goals of the business. So, rule number one is “Set strategy and measure individual performance to specific goals.”

When you, as a reader, see the world “goals”, what comes to mind? Most likely you thought of something like, “I will make fifteen calls today, or I will get five appointments this week, or I will close two sales wroth a minimum of $2,000 before next Monday.” There is nothing wrong with this kind of thinking, but effective measurement systems go far beyond these numeric “scorecards”.

Sales executives who have achieved success know that they must clearly understand business unit strategies, and that they must hire, train, professionally educate, and coach men and women to success. They know that selling is a process and that people of all sizes and shapes who have the innate ability can be taught to be effective in front of a qualified prospect.

An effective measurement system certainly measures individual productivity. That’s where you and I agree on the quantifiable things you are going to do and then you are compared to the standard we both agreed was reasonable. Personally, in my experience, self-motivated salespeople drive themselves to success once they understand the mathematics of sales. Simply stated, there is a number of leads that results in a lesser number of calls and then visits. For every certain number of visits, proposals result. Not every proposal brings a sale, but any successful seller knows his “proposal win rate”. By measuring the selling cycle – cold leads, warm leads, hot leads, calls, visits, professionally planed presentation, proposals, and finally firm orders, not only does the salesperson know how they are doing, but the sales manager also knows. Some salespeople talk effectively on the telephone but cannot effectively perform in a face-to-face environment. The secret to effectiveness is managing the entire “selling chain”. Salespeople do many things very well. Many need to improve certain aspects. Some make lousy first impressions, others lack product knowledge or do not manage either their time or territory well. Still others are not good team players. When salespeople are measured, they must be compared to achievers. They must be coaxed, critiqued, praised, and kept in a constant state of self-improvement.

Once strategy has been decided and teams have been funded, given initial education and development, and deployed, the real fun begins. The salesforce hits the telephones and then the streets and meets their customers day after day in mainstreet America. After daily coaching and monitoring for the specified period, it is time to sit down together formally and review sales progress and effectiveness.


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