Sales Management Group

Five Ways to Improve Sales Performance

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Let’s say you are concerned about a sales rep’s performance. Most of us would focus on the rep’s sales pipeline.

But, that may be only a symptom of a larger problem. Instead, look for causes. Look for behaviors you can change.

Here are five ways you can improve a rep’s performance:

  1. Strategy – Selling the right things to the right customers
  2. Activity – Generating the necessary activity (calls, meetings, etc.) to meet sales goals
  3. Documentation – Properly documenting sales activity and following up with prospects
  4. Selling Time – Spending enough time with prospects and customers
  5. Situations – Pursuing the best situations (and getting out of the bad ones)

With a combination of coaching and training (and maybe some focused attention), you can probably fix these things.

Strategy

Is your sales rep offering the right things to the right people, at the right price with the right message? If not, she may not understand the company’s sales strategy.

If the rep has the wrong strategy (or none at all), that may doom his sales effort no matter how hard he works. To succeed he must get this right.

Make sure this rep and all your reps have territory plans. A territory plan is a sales rep’s mini-strategic plan. It should mirror the company’s sales strategy.

Specifically, a territory plan focuses on these issues:

  • What the target market segments?
  • What are the key accounts?
  • What will the rep sell to each account?
  • What is the plan to reach each account?

With coaching, you may be able get your rep on the right track. If several of your reps have the same problem, then there may be a larger issue. You may not have effectively communicated your strategy to the sales team.  

To correct this, management may need to review its strategy, making sure it is clear and effective.  After the review, you and your management team need to communicate the strategy clearly to the company.  Your entire sales team may require training to fully understand the strategy and execute it.

Activity

A key determinant of sales success is the rep’s activity level. Your reps should have weekly numerical targets for:

  • New contacts
  • Phone calls
  • Phone discussions
  • Meetings
  • Proposals
  • Events attended
  • Referrals generated

Initial contacts lead to phone discussions. Discussions lead to meetings.  Meetings lead to proposals. That’s how sales are made. 

Often, it’s a numbers game.  If your sales reps don’t dial the phone often enough, they won’t have enough conversations that eventually lead to meetings and proposals.  It all starts with activity.

Again, you can fix this. Perhaps, your rep needs to put in a greater effort. Or maybe clarifying or focusing the message will do the trick.

Documentation

Your rep may be calling on the right people and working hard at it. But he is still not getting results.

If he is not documenting his sales interactions, follow-up activities may be falling through the cracks. Your sales rep may be missing opportunities. He also may be losing prospects and customers because he fails to follow up as promised.

Is your rep using your CRM system? Is he summarizing his sales calls and meetings appropriately? Does he have an up-to-date task list?

You can fix this, too. Perhaps he needs some coaching on your sales process or a tune-up on using the CRM system.

Selling Time

If your rep is not meeting his goals, look at where he is spending his time. How much time is he spending actually selling by meeting with and communicating with clients and prospects? Many reps get sidetracked by paperwork or other non-selling activities.

For instance, your rep may think he is selling by spending hours on proposals and presentations. In reality, he is wasting time.

Teach your rep to use standardized proposals and presentations. He’ll save a lot of time and sell more effectively.

Beyond this, he may need time management coaching or an update on how to use your sales tools efficiently.

Situations

Dead-end situations are another trap for sales reps. Sometimes they pursue opportunities where there is no possibility of success. Other times they don’t know when to abandon an opportunity.

Coach your rep on how to identify good opportunities so that he avoids dead ends. The company may be an attractive target. But does your rep have the right connections there? Is the deal worth pursuing?

Similarly, you can teach him to recognize when a deal is going nowhere. Then, it’s time to get out and move on to more promising opportunities.

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The good news is that many, if not most, sales reps have the skills needed to perform well.  An underperforming rep can improve significantly with management coaching.

The challenge you face as a manager is to identify the behaviors that are holding your reps back. Then your reps need to change their unproductive behaviors and develop new ones. Next, they must transform the new behaviors into habits.

Coaching can work for individual reps. But, if you have multiple underperforming reps, sales training may be a better solution.

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