Success in sales remains an elusive goal for many companies, partly because the sales process can’t be configured or engineered in a way that guarantees to close a deal with every prospect. Too many variables are involved.
However, building a success-oriented sales culture within the organisation can tilt the odds in your favor. The key is paying special attention to sales management in a way that’s positive, instills confidence, and rewards sales activity, not just results.
Here are action steps you can take to boost the success rate of your sales team:
Honor the role of salesperson. If you come from a sales background, you know first-hand what a difficult job it can be. Failure and rejection come with the territory and it takes a strong individual to bounce back from these challenges and start fresh all over again.
For this reason, it’s good to “promote how honorable it is to be a sales rep for your company,” notes small business expert Megan Totka. “Put the importance of their position on a pedestal, and highlight how pivotal it is to the success of your business.”
Automate repetitive tasks. Salespeople thrive on high energy and welcome the unpredictable nature of their jobs. That’s why they often find repetitive sales-related tasks so draining and demoralising. It’s up to you to free them up to do what they do best—sales. Wherever possible, employ technology to handle routine customer relationship management tasks (such as sending customised messages to prospects), thus giving your team more latitude to focus on other key responsibilities.
Enforce a consistent sales process. Yes, we all know about rock-star salespeople who “act on a gut feeling” or otherwise go it alone. That’s not the path to a success-oriented culture. Instead, every business should establish a consistent sales process, says sales expert Alana Nicol, with “specific steps that everyone takes so each person knows clearly what it takes to identify, qualify and close an opportunity.”
Train for the results you want. Businesses do the best they can to hire talented salespeople who can get results out of the gate. But for the best results, sales training is the most effective strategy. Such training can emphasise a variety of techniques and attitudes, including how to:
- Stop talking to the prospect and ask questions instead
- Position yourself less as an expert and more as a problem-solver
- Hone your company’s unique selling proposition
- Focus on sales activity as much as on results
For sales veterans and rookies alike, it’s helpful for the manager and/or CEO to occasionally sit in on phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings with prospects, and offer constructive feedback afterward. Most salespeople welcome such feedback, as long it’s framed in a positive way.
Offer opportunities for learning. Training is one thing, continuous learning something else entirely. As part of honoring your sales team, give them every opportunity to participate in webinars, attend sales conferences and engage in other learning activities that help them hone their skills and network on behalf of the company. When they can collaborate and share new ideas, they’ll come away re-energised and excited about incorporating new strategies into the sales process.
Avoid micromanagement. Perhaps the best way to instill self-confidence in your team is by not micromanaging them. Delegating responsibilities and leaving them alone to do their job is another way of saying you trust in their judgment and abilities, and that you expect them to give their very best with every prospect. Sometimes they’ll succeed and sometimes they’ll fail. It’s up to you to avoid casting blame but emphasise instead the value of learning from experience and doing better the next time.
By honoring their efforts and giving them the tools and responsibility to succeed, you can build a culture of sales enthusiasm and energy, unlike anything you’ve seen before.