Disconnect in the business world is pretty common. But, that doesn't mean it should be. Specifically in sales, your job as a leader is to create a model that benefits both the company and the salespeople that work there. So, how do you do this?
This article will provide you with a list of questions to ask yourself, and your producers, when your sales team is underperforming and improvements need to be made.
I recently met with a firm that was struggling with its sales team hitting sales goals. Sound familiar? And talking to the president, she shared with me her frustration over this and the various attempts taken to correct the problem, and nothing seemed to work. The most recent strategy was to change the compensation payout on one of the products being sold. Keep in mind there wasn’t a change to the amount being paid out, just the way the payout would occur.
You would have thought that she was reducing the comp schedule by 50%, changing the 401K match and eliminating the contribution schedule to the employee health insurance plan all in a 24-hour period. The reaction from the sales team was negative and swift. For days, salespeople were focused on:
- Why is the company doing this?
- This isn’t fair, I’ve always been paid within 30 days of the sale.
- Is this a punishment?
- This doesn’t motivate me to sell more!
As I’ve been thinking about this for the last week or so I wondered...
- Would any of this be a problem if in fact the sales people had hit their sales goal in 2018 and so their payouts would be consistent with their personal financial needs?
- Would this be a problem if year to date each of the sales people was on track to hit their goals for 2019?
- And finally, if the 2019 sales goals were being met, and cash flow met the requirements of the business plan, would the president have been put in a position to do something in an attempt to light a fire under the pants of the sales team?
I believe the answer to all of those questions would be no.
Dealing with sales problems within an organization is no different than dealing with a specific sales opportunity that is stuck in the pipeline. Too often a sales person attempts to put pressure via constant emails and calls inquiring about "Where are you in the process of making a decision to move forward with this”? This is the wrong end of the problem in sales. If a sale is stalled or is not made, the sales person with the help of the sales manager has to work the right end of the problem. The right end is examining what happened or failed to happen at the beginning of the milestone centric sales process that the company developed as part of the sales enablement and CRM strategy?
- Was there a compelling reason to act?
- Was the incumbent eliminated from the process?
- Was the capacity to invest time, money and resources discussed and agreed to?
- Was there an agreement for the prospect to pay more if required?
- Did the sales person fully understand the buyer’s buying journey / process and what stage they were in?
- Was the sales person in front of decision makers: users, implementers, finance, IT etc.?
- Was there urgency?
- Was there an agreement to decide at time of presentation?
- Was the company in a position to solve the business problem for the prospect based on the prospect’s selection criteria and priorities?
- Was the prospect given several opportunities to back away from the discussions?
- Did the sales person ‘own the room’ when they made the presentation?
- Was the presentation compelling and designed to lead to an obvious conclusion to buy?
These are just a few examples of steps in a milestone centric sales process as described in this audio blog – A Suspect Remains a Suspect Until.
Back to our president and the company. The challenge here is to ask the sales team the questions I asked above. Get to the right end of the problem and you can avoid many problems closing opportunities and growing sales in your company.