How to Put Defined Sales Processes in Place and Even Have Your Salespeople Love You For It

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It’s a fact: well-defined sales processes lead to more productive sales performance. In a study conducted by CSO Insights, this fact was validated—companies with defined sales processes won 53% of their forecasted deals vs. 43% with ad hoc processes. This essentially means that a defined sales process yields 23% more output from sales. The numbers for % reps making quota, and % companies making plan also tell a similar story (see graph below).

CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Report

2011 Sales Performance Optimization Report, CSO Insights, www.csoinsights.com

From nearly every vantage point, the research confirms that better sales processes equal better sales performance. Reason to say yes to formalizing your sales processes? We think so!

Cracking the Sales Management Code

The information above was taken directly from Cracking the Sales Management Code, by Jason Jordan. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you pick it up—it’s a favorite in our office. The basic takeaway is that you can’t manage organizational outcomes—quota attainment, revenue—which is traditionally where a lot of sales organizations focus.

Instead, your focus— especially if you’re a sales manager—should be on proactively managing reps’ activities by establishing deliberate, standardized meetings/activities with formal agendas, inputs, and outputs. Managed well, improvements in these activities will impact measurable objectives and ultimately improve outcomes.

Putting an actionable plan in place

I want to highlight how we were able to bring a formal, defined process to a typical sales meeting: The Forecast Review. Often, the urgency of the forecast beats the importance of rep development.  But it’s a false dilemma.  There are ways to improve both at the same time.

We’ve spent the last six months listening to hundreds of manager-seller interactions— forecasts, 1-on-1s, opportunity reviews, account management meetings, and pre-call planning sessions.  The bad news is that the general quality of these meetings are substandard.  The good news is that with some simple modifications they can be improved dramatically — leading to accurate forecasts, improved quota attainment, empowered salespeople, and ultimately improved sales performance.

If your forecast review meeting is not on a formal cadence with a formal approach and a formal agenda then you’re a hack…well, not really.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone and it’s easy to fix. Here are six adjustments that will rock your forecast review meetings:

  1. Standardize the agenda, purpose and approach
  2. Model good and bad meetings
  3. Ask versus tell
  4. Make requests, promises and agreements
  5. Transfer meeting ownership to the salesperson
  6. Inspect what you expect

Download this guide for more detail on how to implement this proven structure and customize for your environment.  And if you’d like to continue this effort to improve other processes, you can download the entire set of Sales Manager Guides including:

  • Retain and Grow Key Accounts
  • Build and Execute a Territory Action Plan
  • Qualify and Execute Multi-Stage Sales Cycles
  • Produce an Accurate and Reliable Forecast

I hope you find these guides helpful in putting more formalized sales activities in your organization. We’re sure that you will see improvements in your team’s sales performance as a result of implementing a formal approach, cadence, and agenda. And since your reps will ultimately see an improvement in their performance, I’m pretty sure they’ll love you for it.

Want To Know What Makes A Good Sales Manager? Ask Google

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Google observed and analyzed 10,000 manager interactions and found out what makes a good sales manager.

Google is the gold standard when it comes to using data-driven insights to make decisions. Constantly on the lookout for ways to optimize their business based on data, Google executives wanted to find out if there was a way that they could effectively engineer the perfect manager.

Google, like many companies, traditionally hired and promoted based on technical talent. But what did their research show? Of the top eight characteristics that make a good manager, technical expertise comes in last. What mattered more?

    1. Be a good coach
    2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
    3. Express interest in employee’s success and well-being
    4. Be productive and results-oriented
    5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
    6. Help your employees with career development
    7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
    8. Have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team

Great Coaching Skills Make a Good Sales Manager

What really struck me about this is that the number one, most important skill that makes a good sales manager is to be a good coach. This is precisely the challenge that we’ve been solving for our clients here at CommericalTribe. We all know from experience that it’s not enough to just send your salespeople to training and then throw them at a list of prospects and hope for the best. Sales teams benefit most when someone takes the time to observe what they do, assess their performance, and then provide constructive feedback on what they did well and where there are opportunities for improvement.

In short, sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. Tweet: Sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. https://ctt.ec/Nh7ZU+ #SalesManagerDevelopment #SalesGoals

Our research shows that very few sales managers are very good at this. Why? Many companies don’t invest more than cursory training for our sales managers to develop their management and coaching skills. Without this investment in the development of frontline sales managers, your sales team is far less likely to hit their goals.

How often do you discuss how to be an effective coach with your sales managers? And how well do they understand how being a good coach fits into their daily interactions?

What Does it Take to Be A Good Coach?what makes a good sales manager-nature or nurturewhat makes a good sales manager-nature or nurturewhat makes a good sales manager-nature or nurture

Being a good coach is all about getting people to perform at their best.

John Wooden, one of the most respected coaches in sports history who led the UCLA basketball team to win ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, said: “In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices.”

Great coaches don’t focus on the personal glory of the game and the fame of the win. They measure their own success by how much their team is able to achieve. This mindset doesn’t always come naturally to highly successful reps that have been promoted into management.

Sales leaders who want sales managers who are great coaches can start by specifically looking for characteristics that create good coaches in the recruiting process. When IBM goes into colleges to recruit, they look at the students with undergraduate degrees in areas such as psychology, counseling, and teaching. They find the ones that had even just a small amount of business acumen and point them toward career tracks in sales management.

IBM has been doing this for a long time, because they understood early on that good sales managers are good coaches. And good coaches guide people. Students who were interested in these types of degrees, IBM discovered, were usually inherently interested in guiding people and already exhibited the coaching characteristics that make a good sales manager.

Making A Good Sales Manager: Is It Nature Or Nurture?

what makes a good sales manager-sales team successTalent is something that people are born with, skill is something that is earned. Tweet: Talent is something that people are born with, skill is earned. https://ctt.ec/9adMR+ #SalesSkills #SalesManagerDevelopment

Some people are born with the characteristics that can make a great coach. But many, many others need to develop it.

Jack Welch, the celebrated growth CEO of GE, was not always the great leader we think of today. Early on in his career at GE, he was described in a memo from the head of HR as “arrogant, couldn’t take criticism, and depended too much on his talent instead of hard work and his knowledgeable staff” (Mindset, pg. 127). To his credit, Welch had the good sense to recognize this as a growth opportunity and worked tirelessly throughout his career to become a better coach and the leader we know and recognize today.

Developing great coaching skills requires commitment, work, and practice. If you want to develop your sales managers into coaches, you must first take the time to coach them and invest in tools to help them scale their coaching across their entire team.

You don’t need to have a team of statisticians on staff to understand what makes a good sales manager for your organization. You and your management team do; however, need to be able to observe and assess sales manager and seller interactions, to provide coaching. This observe, assess, and coach methodology is how sales teams continually improve in becoming better managers and closing more deals.

what makes a good sales manager guide

5 Steps to an Actionable Sales Manager Coaching Methodology

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Our C.O.A.C.H. Sales Manager Coaching Methodology integrates actionable sales coaching into your day.

Recent research has proven that the number one skill that separates average managers from highly effective ones is coaching. While the leadership and management world at large has known this for quite some time, sales management specifically has largely been left out of this important development trend.

Because, as a sales manager, you operate in a fundamentally different environment from your management peers, you continue to lack serious coaching and development training in the context required to be successful. What you need is an actionable sales manager coaching methodology that works within the context of your daily life.

Our C.O.A.C.H. method is a sales manager coaching methodology with a simple, yet actionable structure that provides flexibility for the realities of the fluctuating sales environment. It employs five simple practices that sales managers can easily integrate into their daily workflow: Commit, Observe, Assess, Communicate, and Habituate.

1. Commit to Coaching Opportunities

The job of the sales manager is inherently one of the most difficult jobs in the organization. Amid the chaos of your daily life, you’re now being asked to shift your thinking—shift the dynamics of the interactions you have with your salespeople—in a fundamental way by incorporating coaching. This is not something that comes naturally for many people, but it is a critical skill that can be developed with practice and commitment.

Committing to developing your own coaching skills includes actively seeking out coaching opportunities in every interaction you have with your team. You already have frequently scheduled meetings for pipeline and opportunity overviews, forecast reviews, activity management, etc. Within all of these interactions, coaching opportunities present themselves.

2. Observe Seller Behavior & Interactions

You can’t coach what you don’t observe. By observing seller behavior in their daily interactions with leads and clients, you are able to pick up on those cues that tell you where actionable coaching opportunities lie.

Sales managers often observe the interactions their reps have with clients and prospects during the onboarding phase. It’s less common to consistently observe more experienced seller interactions. This leaves a gap in your ability to continue to grow your sellers’ professional careers.

Observation isn’t just about watching for mistakes. It’s more about understanding the interactions that are happening every day between individuals on your team and your market. It allows you to collect insights into what is working well, what isn’t working well, as well as market trends that might affect your organization. This is information you can use to improve your team as a whole in addition to assessing and coaching individual sellers.

3. Assess Seller Performance

sales manager coaching methodology - assessMake an assessment of the seller’s performance you’ve observed. Did they start with an agenda? Did they keep control of the conversation? Did they build rapport? Did they establish next steps? These are the very basics of every effective sales call that you should be looking for in seller interactions. There may be additional assessment criteria for your sales process as well.

Take a moment to determine what the most critical elements of a sales call at each step of your sales process is and map them out in a spreadsheet. Then, assess each seller interaction on a scale from Not Present (red) to Excellent (green). We call this an assessment map, which we work with our clients to create to standardize manager and seller assessments and provide a clear visual path to which elements need the most improvement and which are “gold standard”.

Your assessment maps will help you determine specifically what areas individual sellers need coaching and development work in so you can focus your time with that person on exactly what they need to be successful.

4. Communicate Through Asking Questions & Active Listening

Using your assessments, you are able to identify exactly who needs what training, empowering you to activate as an effective sales coach.

In the communication practice of an effective sales manager coaching methodology, the seller does most of the talking. Your role is to ask deliberate questions and actively listen to the responses. If you are talking more than your sales rep, you’re not doing it right.

As part of CommercialTribe’s sales team development solution, we observe and assess thousands of manager-rep and rep-customer interactions for our clients. This service provides sales leaders and managers with unbiased reports that identify skills gaps and highlight “gold standard” performance. I was recently assessing a sales manager and seller interaction that illustrates our C.O.A.C.H. sale manager coaching methodology quite well. The sales rep was relatively new to the company and was working with a mentor who had taken him under her wing. The manager had observed a meeting that the sales rep and his mentor had with an opportunity recently.

Like many manager-seller interactions I’ve observed, the meeting began with inspection: what activities had the seller completed since they last met, what was his pipeline looking like, etc. Then, the manager shifted into a mentorship role, providing the seller with specific advice for some objections and issues he was facing.

Then, the manager did something that I rarely see during the first assessment. He asked the sales rep about the meeting he’d observed. While the meeting went well and they were able to close the deal, the manager noticed that the rep had let his mentor do all of the talking. He asked, “Why did you let Karen do all the talking with your contact?”

The rep replied, “Well, Karen knows the product better than I do. I didn’t want to step on her toes or say the wrong thing.”

This moment would have been lost (and often is) on someone who had not committed himself to seeking out coaching opportunities. But it was a great catch. The sales manager uncovered a development gap that otherwise could have gone unnoticed to create a great disservice for the sales rep in the long run.

Communication also includes establishing engagement through agreement. It’s not enough to simply tell a sales rep what their goal is. You must establish an agreement for next steps before ending the meeting.

The sales manager in our story could have said, “I want you to take the next sales call without Karen present.” and moved on. Instead, he asked, “What can you do to make sure you’re comfortable with the information to take the lead on your next sales call?”

The seller responded, “I can practice the pitch and do a roleplay with Terry to practice objection handling.”

“That sounds like a great plan. How many times will you practice the pitch before scheduling the roleplay?”

“At least three times.”

“Good. And when will you have this completed by?”

“By the end of the week.”

“That sounds great. Is there anything you need from me to help you?”

sales manager coaching methodologyCoaching interactions take patience and practice to navigate successfully. However, the end result of consistently conducting meetings with your sales team in this way will produce far greater long-term results than taking the “easy” way by telling. The next time the seller in our story feels uncomfortable with messaging, will he wait until his manager asks him about it? Or will he take the steps he knows are necessary to make him successful?

5. Make Coaching a Habit

This last step in our C.O.A.C.H. methodology is critical for two reasons. First, developing a coaching habit will help you stay focused on becoming a great coach even during times of high production and stress. Second, it helps coaching become more effective as both you and your reps will grow more comfortable with the methodology and expectations, and will interact more thoughtfully.

Two keys to creating a coaching habit are to keep a consistent schedule of meetings that follow a fixed agenda and set expectations with your reps up-front.

You know you need to develop your coaching skills to grow in your own career as a sales manager, as well as to improve the performance of your team. The problem is that you are, understandably, overwhelmed and under-developed. While this has historically been caused by the chaos traditional in the sales environment, the reality is that you have to take charge of your own growth mindset to succeed. Use this simple sales manager coaching methodology to develop your sales coaching habit and create long-term, sustained revenue growth.

sales manager coaching methodology - learn more

25% of Your Qualified Opportunities are Wasted by Poor Sales Calls

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Activate Your Sales Managers To Start Converting More Qualified Opportunities Into Revenue.

Tweet this: Qualified opportunities are the lifeblood of your company’s existence.

The dirty secret of most sales organizations is that many qualified opportunities are wasted by sales organizations that are relying on ad hoc management processes. Sales leaders in these organizations are living on a hope and a prayer that their team can close enough deals to keep business leadership from giving them the boot.

Increase Sales Productivity up to 23%

Research by CSO Insights has shown that by managing your team to a process can improve their productivity by a whopping 23%. Developing your front line managers to activate them as growth coaches for sales reps is key to executing this process management.

The dirty secret of most sales organizations is that many qualified opportunities are wasted by sales organizations that are relying on ad hoc management processes.

Start With Your Sales Process

It sounds obvious, but it’s striking how many sales managers don’t do the basics. The first step is to define your sales process, and then the hard part: make sure you and your managers are managing to it.

I’m mostly indifferent to what sales process and tools you use—each company and sales organization need to use what works best for them. I am not; however, indifferent to whether or not you use a sales process at all. Defining a sales process, or methodology, is critical to the success of your sales team’s ability to maximize pipeline opportunities. Without one, your organization will flounder and miss goals.

Without a management plan, your front line managers don’t have the tools they need to help their teams guide qualified opportunities through the sales pipeline to close.

While most companies and sales leaders know this by now, many fail to take the next step and formalize a management plan around their sales process. Without a management plan, your front line managers don’t have the tools they need to help their teams guide qualified opportunities through the sales pipeline to close.

Your Reps are Likely Bumbling at least 25% of Their Qualified Opportunities
Tweet: Your Reps are Bumbling at least 25% of Their Qualified Opportunities https://ctt.ec/ZjJwb+

All sales processes experience the most acute loss of qualified opportunities at the top the funnel. Conversion rates are much higher in the latter stages of the sales funnel. So, ask yourself, what would a 5% improvement in your conversion rate at the top of your funnel mean for your overall result? It would be pretty impactful, wouldn’t it?

In our experience observing and assessing thousands of sales calls for our clients, we’ve found that at least 25% of sales reps’ interactions with prospects and clients are what we would score as red. That means that even the reps that you have invested heavily in training for are not properly applying the characteristics of what makes a successful call.

That’s 125 opportunities every week that you would have been better off not calling at all.

If you have 100 reps on your sales team and each of them are doing just one discovery call per day, that means your team is collectively throwing away 25 qualified opportunities every day. That’s 125 opportunities every week that you would have been better off not calling at all.

And these calls are going to continue every day, week in and week out, month after month. Until you find yourself at the end of the quarter trying to shake down your managers to eek out those last few deals to meet your objective before the clock stops. And then you have to start all over again in the new quarter.

Said differently, you would be better off if 25% of your sales reps just stayed home and didn’t make a single call. Because they are literally just throwing away qualified opportunities before that opportunity has a chance to really learn about the value of your solution due to ineffective discovery calls. If we can simply improve your discovery call conversion rate by 5%, and maintain your lower pipeline conversions, the revenue impact will be impossible to ignore! So, how can you do that?

Click Here To Download Our Free Opportunity Managment Guide >>

Activate Your Sales Managers to Drive Qualified Opportunity Conversion

stop wasting qualified opportunities CT graphicYour front line sales managers are the key to impacting this target.

For decades, companies have focused on skills training for business development and sales reps to improve sales team performance. We like to send them off to sales training where they’ll learn the proper skills they need to develop their individual territories and close deals. Investing in our market-facing reps to teach them better sales skills, conventional wisdom says, will impact revenue attainment from the bottom up.

This conventional wisdom has ignored the sales manager’s role in coaching and developing desired behaviors in sales reps over the long-term to ensure they are applying the skills they’ve been taught.

Your front line manager is so key to the success of your sales organization, and yet they’re simply thrown into the deep end without receiving guidance on how to manage their team.

How much training and development have your sales managers received? How often do you take the time to coach and develop your management team?

Further, do they have the tools that allow them to observe their sales reps’ behavior during the discovery call? Do they have the means and mechanisms to consistently assess their reps when they do observe them? And do they have the skills and the tools they need to become coaches that can develop and grow a high-performing sales team?

Your front line sales managers’ job is untenable. They have been recently promoted from account executive to management. They have had little or no formal training and suddenly find themselves managing 11 direct reports. This team likely includes two open head counts, three new hires, one low-performer, three mid-performers, and two high-performers—one of whom is threatening to quit. They have to report their 90-day forecast. They have pricing, product, messaging, Salesforce, their managers… The list goes on.

Your front line manager is so key to the success of your sales organization, and yet they’re simply thrown into the deep end without receiving guidance on how to manage their team.

If you want to narrow the performance variance you’re seeing in your qualified opportunities conversions, you will have the most success in doing so by activating your front line managers as coaches and multipliers. And you will want to get them to first focus on coaching and developing their under and mid-level performers.

Improve Under-Performing Sales Rep Behaviors

You know as well as I do that no two sales reps are created equal. The performance variance is fairly easy to calculate, yet difficult to narrow. But if you’re looking at improving conversion rates at the top of your funnel, from discovery call to proposal, for example, under-performing reps are going to be the lowest hanging fruit.

This is because under and mid-performing sales reps are the most likely to be wasting qualified opportunities at the top of your funnel. Your high-performing reps are already moving at least close to an optimized number of leads through this stage, so the improvement increment there will be minimal.

Activating your front line managers to improve under performers does not need to be complicated or time-consuming.

Activating your front line managers to improve underperformers does not need to be complicated or time-consuming. Once they know how to do it—and have the formal tools and/or processes in place to enable them—much can be accomplished within their normal, everyday workflow. They are likely already getting face-time with their reps on a daily, or at least weekly, basis. They simply need to add an observational element to see what their lower-performing sales reps are doing versus high-performers, and then include feedback and coaching during those scheduled interactions.

Let’s take another look at the discovery call. Your high performers are likely exhibiting behaviors that we would rate as good or excellent in most, if not all, of these characteristics of an effective discovery call.

  1. Start with an introduction and set a clear agenda.
  2. Share a compelling, provocative, and insight-led company story
  3. Identify a key issue or pain point personalized for the person on the other line
  4. Provide a relevant solution to the issue or pain.
  5. Qualify and close for next steps

Your low performers, on the other hand, either lack the knowledge that these are the key steps to converting their qualified opportunities or they lack the ability to apply this knowledge.

In either case, their behaviors need to be developed and coached through consistent, committed observation, assessment, and coaching to move them up to higher levels of performance. Your front line managers can effectively do this if they have a formal management plan, and the training and tools to execute it, they need to be successful.

Is your sales team simply throwing away hundreds of qualified leads every month? You have the power stop the waste by defining your sales process and formalizing how your sales managers are expected to manage to it. Your front line sales managers are the catalyst to moving your under-performing reps to improve their behaviors and conversions at the top of the pipeline, where the majority of your qualified opportunities are churning. If you can train and develop them into effective coaches, their impact will be multiplied throughout the sales organization to improve goal attainment.

 

FREE OPPORTUNITY MANAGEMENT GUIDE Click Here To Download 

Why You Need A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

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Develop your sales manager effectiveness program to improve efficiency and increase revenue.

You have a lot on your plate when you think about your enablement priorities for this year. Sales enablement teams are being tasked with a broad range of services and responsibilities, yet continue to have to negotiate for the resources they need to accomplish key priorities.

Most enablement teams continue to focus their efforts to improve sales efficiency, increase revenue, and improve forecasting on training and developing their sellers. But what if I were to tell you there was a better, more cost-effective, and more efficient way? I’m talking about establishing a formal sales manager effectiveness program.

Why You Need A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

sales manager effectiveness program-collaborationA strong management team provides the foundation for improving your sales team’s win rate, engagement, and retention. Sales managers who have been trained to effectively coach and develop their reps, as well as manage their productivity, are most effective at attaining revenue goals, improving sales team productivity, and retaining talented, driven salespeople.

The profitability implications for your organization should not be overlooked nor underestimated. And yet, few enablement organizations currently offer any training for sales managers at all. How could this be!?

Learn How To Establish Your Sales Manager Effectiveness Program with On-Demand Training Video & Downloadable Guides >>

How To Create A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

I believe the core of the answer to this question is that it is a huge undertaking for enablement teams that are already overwhelmed and understaffed. The underlying reasons for this is two-fold. First, there is a lack of clarity around how to create and implement a successful sales manager effectiveness program. Second, there is a lack of commitment to training and developing sales managers.

Sales and enablement teams need to be able to commit and agree to long-term development disciplines and goals to make the program successful. This commitment requires a desire to improve, a dedication to a learning & development culture, and the ability to build collaborative relationships between the enablement and sales functions. Unfortunately, I can not help you with this reason for not developing a sales manager effectiveness program. It’s akin to helping an addict kick their habit—you can’t help them until they are willing to help themselves.

But I can help you with the first reason. Since I know that implementing a formal sales manager effectiveness program can result in a huge win for your sales enablement team, not to mention have a significant financial impact on the overall performance of your company.

That is why I want to show you how to do it. Register now to watch our How To Establish a Sales Manager Effectiveness Program recording, presented as part of BrightTalk’s Sales Training & Leadership Summit. During this training session, I provide the roadmap to building your own successful sales manager effectiveness program.

http://commercialtribe.com/webinar-build-a-manager-effectiveness-program/