Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to clarify the roles of your sales team and sales management. It’s a valuable exercise. Now you get to assess sales team strategy and culture. Regardless of your methodology half of your sales representatives currently perform below average. Fifty percent are performing below average! Think about that. This is an indisputable fact. So why even assess the team? Simply put, to sell more.
Successful selling organizations consist of three components; investment, activity, and results. The first component is the investment in the sales team. The investment is measured in compensation, benefits, computers, software, training, hiring, meetings, sales material, phones, and other related expenses.
The second element is the activity of the investment. Face-to-face meetings, travel, preparation, telephone calls, and administration comprise the second element. The third, and vital, component stands alone; results. How many sales were generated? Profits? Current market share?
The glue that binds the three distinct parts includes your people, culture, and customers. Is there a career path for salespeople? What is your turnover rate? Who are the sales heroes? What is driving the team to achieve?
The best sales managers and sales teams recognize four productivity drivers.
1. Sales research-information related to market trends, target markets, customers, trends, etc.
2. Investment and organization-size, structure, and deployment of sales team allows you to get the right people at the right place at the right time.
3. People-selection, training, managing, motivating, evaluation, and termination.
4. Sales systems and processes-compensation, incentives, benefits, internal support, etc.
Tests and surveys remain the most effective way to assess salespeople. Companies rarely assess sales management instead of relying on results to determine effectiveness.
A successful selling organization operates in a progressive culture. What’s culture? That’s best answered by the following story.
Six apes were placed in a room with a ladder. A bunch of bananas hung from the center of the room. One ape started to climb the ladder for the fruit and the entire room was showered with cold water. This happened a few times until any ape that wandered near the ladder was beat up by other apes. A new guy replaced one of the original apes. The new guy, wanting to be a hero, headed for the ladder and received a thorough beating. He learned not to go near the ladder. Eventually, every one of the original apes was replaced. The beatings continued. The replacement apes were unaware of why they were prohibiting others from going near the ladder. They just knew the ladder was off-limits.
That’s a culture. Are there any new apes on your team following old practices without knowing why? Cultures evolve over time and their origins are rarely known. Does your sales team have a culture? I bet it does. Is it a good one? Sales cultures consist of three elements:
Norms — how individuals actually behave.
Values — how individuals should behave.
Work styles — diligent, tardy, professional, thorough, detailed, casual?
Changing negative cultures represents a significant challenge but is mandatory if you want to stay in business. People are the agents of change and must be supported by management. Who are the heroes of your sales team? How long have they been the department hero and for what reason? Knowing these answers will help you assess your culture.
You must first formulate your vision of the sales team and evaluate all key contributing factors. Great companies communicate their vision clearly and frequently with all sales-related personnel. Don’t leave anyone out that comes in contact with your sales team.
Next, you must put your vision into action by rewarding individuals for acting in concordance with your vision. This is a process, not a destination but as it evolves your sales will increase and profits will soar.
This takes courage. You need to ask and answer tough questions. Dedication to a better selling team is required. Don’t give up until your vision is clarified, communicated, and leads to rewarding the winners.
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”