We have heard that success is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. But sales is a profession that requires large doses of inspiration and motivation on a regular basis in order to be successful. Professional sales people face a lot of rejection and for every ‘YES’ there are at least nine “NOs’. It can be difficult sometimes experiencing all the rejection successful sales people recognize that the constant barrage of “NOs” is not to be taken personally, but that its just part of the sales game. Even if one gets used to the rejection over time, the stiff competition from rivals, adverse market conditions, and the need to keep meeting or exceeding sales targets can affect the performance of a sales person. Even top achievers are not immune to this. At such times the antidote is the motivation from the sales manager. Applied in the right amounts and at appropriate times, motivation can lift the sagging spirits of the sales force. Their body language changes, they start performing better, and their results improve.
Know Your Sales Team
Strengths and Weaknesses:
As a sales manager you must know your sales team thoroughly. You must know the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your sales force. A sales manager has to work with the sales team that they have been given. Each sales person has certain strengths and drawbacks. The talent of a sales manager is to optimize the results by capitalizing on the strengths. It helps if you know that X is good with institutional sales and Y is better at individual sales. Or that A can get along with up market clients better and B can maintain a certain type of account. If you know that C has worked in the service industry earlier in his career and can gel well with professionals from that industry it would help you both. It also helps when you know within the team who works well with whom. Ultimately you want them to perform better and having a coherently working team is always good to achieve the sales goals of the individual and the organization.
Even knowing about their personal lives is helpful when it comes to dealing with the sales team. It is hard to compartmentalize personal and professional lives. Somehow they affect each other no matter how hard we try to segregate them. If their personal life is going great, things are more likely to be brighter on the professional front and vice versa. If you know that sales people are interested in earning extra incentives by working harder to pay their new car loan, they would show all the enthusiasm to do so. It would be wise to give them the opportunity to do so. Young sales people will be keen to earn more money to pay off their student loans or finance car loans. Middle aged sales people would like to finance their kids’ college education or pay-off their home mortgage. It is important to know the driving force of each sales person on your team.
Encourage them to Share with You
You should encourage your sales people to talk to you about things that are influencing their work. This includes product information, sales processes being followed, sales support, their relationship with co-workers, attitude towards the management policy, their equation with you, and any other factors. You should sort out if there are any issues. If a sales person provides valid suggestions about improving the sales process then the best motivation for them would be to modify the sales process and attribute the credit to them. Some members of your team may be interested in periodic training and workshops. Encourage them by providing the opportunities for such skill sharpening and enhancement training.
Personal Joys and Sorrows:
As a sales manager you can be the friend, philosopher, and guide of your sales staff. Encourage them to open up with you and discuss their personal matters with you on a one-on-one basis. Try to provide friendly counseling. Offer solutions and ask them to put everything behind and march ahead. Knowing their personal joys and sorrows you can be a part of their lives and they would trust you more as a leader. This will help you in getting things done. Also it will be easier for you to understand that the reason for somebody’s poor sales performance in a given month are the challenges in their personal life.
Recognition is the key in sales. When a sales person achieves something appreciate it by way of incentives, perks, and gifts. Also acknowledge the success publicly so that he feels recognized and appreciated. This acts as the best booster to perform better.
Be Gentle Yet Firm
When somebody on the team is not reaching their sales goals be gentle with them. The worst thing would be to single them out in a sales meeting in front of everybody. Try to find out why they are failing. Ask them to meet and talk to you one-on-one and find out their problem. Provide the solution if there is any. Point out where they can improve. Be gentle and firm with such people. Allow them enough chance to improve. A little compassion and understanding goes a long way as a sales manger and can help your sales team to get back on track to sales success.
About the Author:
Doug Dvorak helps companies and professionals achieve results through customized, creative and non-traditional sales training systems that are “one size fits one” and developed to the unique business needs and “sales pain points” of each client. He is available to speak on these topics.
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Copyright 2008 The Sales Coaching Institute, Inc.
Sales Skills Training Strategic Sales Coaching
Doug Dvorak, CEO of DMG International, is the Author of the forthcoming book “Build Your Own Brand” (Pelican, 2009)