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Leading a Sales Team: 10 Keys to Success (Part 2)

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, May 19, 2022

Sales leaders must be both effective managers and great coaches by arming their salespeople with the skills to be successful and managing their strengths.

This week, we identify the final 5 keys to success in leading a sales team.

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A good sales manager helps salespeople by arming them with the skills, knowledge, and strategies to help them be successful. A good coach motivates people by managing their strengths, hopes, and dreams, holding them accountable, and helping them recover from negative encounters. A good sales leader must be both a good manager and a good coach. 

We have identified 10 keys to success in leading a sales team. In last week’s blog, we dove into the first five keys. Today, we will expand on 6-10.

  1. Guiding the team to set extraordinary goals
  2. Managing excuse making
  3. Understanding the Will to Sell and Sales DNA factors beneath sales behavior
  4. Following a coaching process
  5. Coaching the deal and coaching for skill development
  6. Establishing personal and business goal setting
  7. Leading consistent sales huddles
  8. Creating a hiring profile and having a candidate pipeline
  9. Coaching a stage-based sales process
  10. The shadow of the leader

Establishing personal and business goal setting: Unfortunately, the results of thousands of sales management evaluations tell us that most managers do not know the personal goals of their salespeople. If a leader needs to get to the heart of why their salesperson is not reaching business sales goals, they must understand how they are motivated and what personally motivates them. Is the salesperson intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? Does their salesperson respond to being at the top of the stack ranking and recognized by others, or is money or freedom to run their business more important? Let’s face it, we all work to have time, money, and freedom. If a sales manager does not understand what is important to the salesperson (vacation, retirement, education, etc.), how can they establish appropriate activity goals and coach their salespeople? We offer a comprehensive Personal & Business Workplan template that can help sales managers with this critical goal-setting process.

Leading consistent sales huddles: Huddles, as defined by Verne Harnish, founder and President of Gazelles, are:

  1. A communication process or system that allows for sharing of real-time information
  2. An opportunity to focus on "burning platform" issues for a team or company
  3. A way to bring sharp focus and attention to a critical business driver
  4. The most important 15 minutes in any company

If a sales manager does not have a regular and timely means to monitor what is going on in the field in real-time, they cannot coach or adjust the play or get in front of any client issues or trends. Huddles should provide real-time information so that sales managers can make real-time decisions and provide real-time feedback or coaching.

Creating a hiring profile and having a candidate pipeline: Most sales leaders start the recruiting process when there is an opening. Managers should be recruiting all the time so that when that happens, they are prepared and have a recruiting list. The first step is to create a profile of the ideal person in the role by identifying, evaluating, and listing specific skills and traits of current top producers. Then, gather management and others in the company to ask who they know that fits that description. This is how you start to create a recruiting list. A hiring profile and candidate pipeline are necessary for new and tenured sales leaders. It is a critical piece in any sales management training program.

Coaching a stage-based sales process: According to the #1 sales assessment in the world, elite salespeople follow a stage-based sales system. By mastering the process and asking the right questions at the right time, top producers take the prospect through a discovery process and identify the problem or pain, monetize that pain, and then uncover the time, resources, and budget to fix that problem. Within that stage-based sales process, skilled salespeople also discuss the current provider relationship, decision-making process, and commitment level to make a change. This stage-based process is essential for a coach to help their salespeople discover where they are getting stuck and coach them to the next level. We know that by implementing a consistent sales process, companies can achieve a 15% lift. Make certain that your sales management training program includes this important area.

The shadow of the leader: Being a sales leader is not an easy job- they have many responsibilities with multiple activities to get done throughout the day. But, a sales leader’s #1 job is to make their people wildly successful and improve their skills so they are more successful than they would have been on their own. Casting the shadow of the leader also involves a continual focus on self-development to become a better manager and coach. Commitment cannot be taught, but it can be demonstrated. 

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Topics: Sales Management Training

Leading a Sales Team: 10 Keys to Success (Part 1)

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, May 12, 2022

In our sales management training, we have developed 10 keys and a framework of activities that provide a new or tenured sales leader with a roadmap they need to put in place to help lead their team to greater sales success.

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Most companies engage in sales training, but we have found over our 29 years of business that few invest in sales management training. In part, due to the theory that a successful salesperson can transition to teaching and coaching others to do the same. This theory is flawed because there are very different skills required of sales managers than salespeople- the most important being the driving desire to develop and achieve success through others. Both roles do include a focus on relationship selling and the ability to quickly and effectively find and develop a bond with others. However, the core skills of a sales manager involve understanding how to transition from actively doing to teaching and coaching. In our sales management training, we have developed a framework of activities that provide a new or tenured sales leader with specific activities they need to put in place to help lead their team to greater success.

Here are 10 keys to success for leading a sales team:

  1. Guiding the team to set extraordinary goals
  2. Managing excuse-making
  3. Understanding the Will to Sell and Sales DNA factors beneath sales behavior
  4. Following a coaching process
  5. Coaching the deal and coaching for skill development
  6. Establishing personal and business goal setting
  7. Leading consistent sales huddles
  8. Creating a hiring profile and having a candidate pipeline
  9. Coaching a stage-based sales process
  10. The shadow of the leader

Guiding the team to set extraordinary goals: One of the biggest complaints of most salespeople is that their goals are set by the company and are not realistic. What is interesting about that is if a sales leader effectively takes their salespeople through a process of establishing their own goals, salespeople will typically set them higher than the company might. In our sales management training, we help managers with a specific approach of establishing Extraordinary Goals. Utilizing a matrix like the one below, a sales manager begins by asking the salesperson what a good goal for their year is, then discusses poor and failing levels. Once those are established they have a conversation about what an Excellent year would look like and then what an Extraordinary year would be. Numbers are essential, along with a discussion of what would be needed to achieve these levels. Once all those numbers are established the sales leader asks the salespeople to which level they want to be managed and coached. Most high-performing salespeople will choose the top level. The key, however, is the sales leader must ask the salesperson if they will allow them to be coached to that level, and gains the understanding that it will be hard and challenging. Utilizing this process, the salesperson has established their own goal and will be more committed to doing what it takes to achieve it.

CSFManaging excuse-making: We all make excuses, but one of the skills of top-performing salespeople is their ability to own their outcomes and results. In our sales management training, we help sales leaders understand the commitment levels of their salespeople and then how to coach to those various levels. We can all recognize some salespeople will do Whatever It Takes, which we call WIT. These salespeople rarely, if ever, blame the market, the company, or anything other than their actions for lack of success. So here is the strategy. When asked, "Why do you think you did not reach your annual goal, Joe?” Joe says, “Look how many accounts I am managing! How can I do this client servicing work and still bring in new business?” The sales manager replies, “If I did not let you use that excuse, what would you have done differently?” This approach reaps great success because it puts the ball squarely back in the salesperson's court, and they must think about how they could have adjusted their activities to achieve a different result. They must own it.

Understanding the Will to Sell and Sales DNA factors beneath sales behavior: When a salesperson does not prospect enough, avoids asking about the budget in the sales process, or does not ask enough strong qualifying questions, it is often the result of their underlying Will to Sell and Sales DNA. It is impossible to coach these behaviors without understanding what lies beneath the salesperson's actions. Relationship selling is a complex skill, and a sales coach will want to understand these underlying factors about their salespeople to effectively coach them to higher levels of performance. For example, if a salesperson does not believe that they have the right to ask budget questions or is uncomfortable doing so (uncomfortable discussing money), they won't ask. It is easy to teach a technique and help them with questions they can be comfortable with once they understand what is getting in their way.

Will to Sell & Sales DNA-1

Following a Coaching Process: Much like mastering a sport like golf and tennis, there are different styles and approaches, but there are technical factors involved in becoming adept at these sports. Similarly, in our sales management training, we help sales leaders with the technical side of coaching with a 5-step coaching process. Yes, they must be adept at each of these steps below, but if they commit to coaching their salespeople in this manner, they will see a lift.
  1. Gain insight: find out what is happening or not happening through huddle data or observational coaching, schedule a coaching session
  2. Provide feedback: have quality conversations that are timely and specific, asking questions of their salespeople to help them self-discover, and gain agreement on the real problems
  3. Demonstrate and instruct: Identify skill gaps, demonstrate mastery of the skill, and instruction on critical steps to improve
  4. Roleplay: Complete a pre-call for an upcoming call, RM roleplays, complete a post-call debrief together, coach gaps
  5. Develop an action plan: determine action steps, observe, inspect and coach again, celebrate results, and address failure

Coaching the deal and coaching for skill development: Many sales coaches are great at coaching the deal, helping a salesperson understand if the prospect fits their target, researching the industry and issues, the complexities of the structure of the deal, etc. However, at a separate time, sales managers must focus on sales behaviors to help a salesperson make improvements in their strategies, skills, and approach. We recommend establishing coaching hours on the calendar. This is when a salesperson commits to a meeting with their manager, reviews a prospect pre or post-call and reviews the questions they will ask/asked, and completes a qualifying scorecard on the prospect. This is time to sharpen their sword. One of the most important jobs of the sales manager is to practice with their salespeople, take time to help them with a new approach, ask questions differently, and help them get comfortable with closing questions. This time is set aside not to focus on a deal but to improve skills and affect behavior change. Remember, change takes repetition and practice!

Tune in to our blog next week for the Sales Leader's final 5 keys to leading their team to success!

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Topics: relationship selling, Sales Management Training

Sales Management Training: Are You A Truly Committed Leader?

Posted by Dan Fischer on Thu, Nov 04, 2021

Committed leaders invest in themselves by taking part in sales management training to become better managers and coaches so they can help their people see greater success. 

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Two questions I ask you today:

  1. As a leader, are you truly committed?
  2. Are your people truly committed to you, and your organization?

Being a leader is not an easy job, is it? No doubt, you have lots of responsibilities with lots to get done throughout your day, week, month, and year. With that said, are you:

  • Leading by example and casting a large shadow so your people know you are there for them?
  • Holding your people accountable for their daily and weekly activities that they agreed to?
  • Gaining insights into what their choke points are and helping them overcome obstacles?
  • Intentionally coaching your people on the little things (behaviors) to get the big things done (results)?
  • Roleplaying and practicing to make your people better?

If you are committed to doing the above, you are on the right path to success. Your #1 job is to make your people wildly successful, to change circumstances so that they will be more successful than they would have been had they been left alone and not coached by you! How do you do that? By setting standards, holding them accountable, not allowing excuses, motivating, and coaching. But also, investing in yourself by taking part in sales management training to become a better manager and coach. Committed leaders do these things consistently.

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What is the evidence that you are a committed leader? Try this exercise:

  1. Your team says that you are totally committed to being successful in your role as a Sales Leader, CEO, President, etc. Write down what they would tell me to convince me that this is true.
  2. Your team says that you are not totally committed to being successful in your role. Write down what they would tell me to convince me that this is true.

Are your people truly committed to you, and your organization? How do you know if they’re committed to success? To determine if they are truly committed, we like to use the following three categories as benchmarks:

  1. Coast to Coasters – these people coast into work and then coast home at night. These people are retired…they just don’t know it yet.
  2. WITALAIITU – Whatever It Takes, As Long As It Isn’t Too Uncomfortable. These people will do whatever it takes until it becomes outside of their comfort zone. Then they shut down.
  3. WIT – Whatever It Takes. These people are high achievers. These are the people you want on your team to help build a strong culture within your organization.

When is the best time to find out if your people are committed? Yesterday. If not yesterday, then today.

I believe commitment starts and ends with YOU. Your commitment to yourself, your people, and your fine organization is contingent on you having that “whatever it takes” attitude. That attitude is contagious and you will find your people following your shadow because they know you are committed to them and their best interest.

Cast your shadow wide!

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Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, commitment to succeed

The Importance of Goal Setting & Motivation in Sales

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Oct 29, 2021

Goal setting and effectively motivating salespeople by identifying what's important to them is one of the primary focuses in our Sales Management training.

In this blog, we discuss the several steps a sales manager can take to establish a motivating, inspiring environment for their people.

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Goal Setting & Motivation in Sales

When asked, most sales managers say that one of their greatest challenges is their ability to motivate and set goals for their salespeople. If a sales manager can figure out what makes his people “tick”, he can better help them hit their goal numbers. Sales motivation seems like hard work because salespeople often value different things. There are, however, several steps a sales manager can take to establish a motivating environment. 

How to Keep Your Sales Team Motivated

The first step to keeping your sales team motivated is to recognize that motivation is an “inside-out’ job. When the topic of motivation is discussed, we typically think about incentive compensation, sales contests, and recognition programs. All of these certainly encourage sales teams to focus on generating new business because these are rewards. However, you will gain true engagement and enthusiasm if you create an everyday environment that encourages each individual to identify and visualize his own internal motivation.

Salespeople do not care about corporate shareholder value unless they are shareholders themselves. What they care about is food, shelter, clothing, recognition, paying for college education or wedding, buying a vacation home, etc. These are personal desires and make up the vast majority of things that are important to people. So the solution is to create an environment where this internal motivation can take place. See The Dream Manager book by Michael Kelly.

How to Set Goals for Sales People

The next step to goal setting and motivation is to help your salespeople identify what is important to them. Make the effort to set up time off-site that is dedicated to planning and spend time developing each individual’s dreams and goals. This is time that you and they will spend ON your business instead of in it.

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How to Create a Process for Your Salespeople

Create a process where people can establish personal goals because this is where true motivation, passion, and desire are born. Hence, it is from this process that each salesperson’s business plan must evolve.

You might position this process as though you are the coach and the salespeople are players on a competitive baseball team. Each of you has a part to play so that the whole team wins. When someone objects to the dream building exercises by saying something like “You are just going to provide a goal for me anyway so why do I have to do this?”, tell him that, as with a baseball team, each player must excel at his job so that the team can win and go to play-offs.

Salespeople will understand this. If someone does not get this, he or she may not be suited for selling. Selling requires desire, commitment, and a need to win. Selling is a competition.

Create an environment where people get a chance to unplug, sit down and outline their goals and dreams; a time when both of you can establish timeframes and attach financial values to these items. Once you have attached financial values, you will know what level of prospecting and selling activity is necessary for each salesperson.

Reward yourself and your people when they have a success. At our company, we hung a big bell in the hallway that we ring every time we bring in a new relationship. It is LOUD and that is just the way we want it! As your people go through this process and identify their goals; as you sit down and establish your own personal goals, be sure to specify how you will reward and recognize your people as each of them achieve these goals.

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Topics: Sales Management Training, motivating salespeople, professional sales training

Sales Management Training: Coach Your People, They Want It!

Posted by Dan Fischer on Fri, Oct 15, 2021

Are you, as a sales leader, spending at least 50% of your time coaching your salespeople, helping them to develop their skills and become more productive?

It’s time to inspect your own behaviors as a coach and mentor. How do you measure up? Set time on your calendar right now for specific, sales skills coaching with your salespeople.

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Please allow me to be very direct (it’s the only way I know how) when I ask you this question: “Are you really coaching your people”? I mean, really digging in and coaching them? Are you spending at least 50% of your time holding your people accountable, and coaching? Isn’t your job as a sales leader to make your people wildly successful? More successful than they ever would have been had they not been coached by you? If your answers to those questions are “yes” … great, keep doing what you’re doing! If it took you a while to answer or your answers were “no”, it’s time to get to work with some specific sales management training around coaching.

Many sales leaders manage the activity of their people by looking at spreadsheets, activity reports, and pipelines. Does that make them a coach? I’m not diminishing the importance of managing activity but what I’m talking about is coaching the behaviors that will make your people better. These are the weekly standards (activity metrics) that need to be inspected; the little things that make the big things happen. Weekly metrics include:

  • Outreaches – phone calls and emails to prospects
  • Contacts – live conversations with decision-makers
  • Meetings Set – day and time set

There are two questions you must be able to answer when your boss asks:

  1. Why is one or more of your people failing?
  2. What are you doing about it?

Your answers cannot be, “I don’t know”, or “let me go check”. You must know the answers. How can you answer those questions if you’re not holding your people accountable?

2 other questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Did we hire them that way?
  2. Or, has my lack of coaching made them that way?

I’m not talking about getting all over your people…or embarrassing your people. I’m talking about helping your people!

Your job as a sales leader is to help your people get better, challenge their thinking, and help them grow and practice with them to develop their skills so they are more productive for your organization and they are able to reach their personal goals. Many sales leaders do not see the need for sales management training. It’s time to inspect your own behaviors as a coach and mentor. How do you measure up? Set time on your calendar right now for specific, sales skills coaching with your salespeople.

No doubt, you have a very challenging job. You have a lot on your plate with lots of responsibilities. But, always remember that your #1 job is to coach and make your people wildly successful.

Download our Free  9 Keys to Successful Coaching eBook

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales management skills, Sales Management Training

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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.

     

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