Building an effective sales team is never an easy task regardless of the business size. Just because it’s not easy, does not mean that it can’t be challenging, fulfilling and fun for any motivated leader. Whether working with junior sales people who are fresh out of college, or the most seasoned account executives with many years of experience, an intelligent strategy must be in place to make sure your team knows what they are doing and the business goals are achieved. Make sure to follow these 7 steps when building your sales manager game plan.
1. Preparation – you and your sales team!
Your sales people are a reflection of you. Always make sure they are prepared for anything. Help them anticipate objections and know every detail about the pitch, the product and the company. Use the Internet to research a target company and thoroughly investigate a prospect’s interests via social media networks. After all, PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE!
2. Define and target the prospects
Yes, knowing the product is important but knowing who is going to buy the product is equally as vital. Manage your sales team by dividing and conquering a specific territory or industry. Take into consideration each sales person’s strengths and weaknesses, not just location proximity. Develop prospect profiles so sales pitches can be tweaked and customized to fit a potential customer’s needs.
3. Capture the prospect’s attention
Schmoozing is great but schmooze with a purpose. Business owners are busy and they are approached constantly. The last thing they want to do is hear another sales pitch which requires their time and keeps them from making money. Make sure your sales people are different! Help them quickly find something in common with the prospect and then make sure they get to their point. Remember, you don’t always have to close the sale in the first meeting. Get them to like you, spark their curiosity, and then they will want to buy from you, not be sold by you.
4. Follow up
It’s not your prospects job to call you and thank you for your time. It’s your sales people’s! And don’t get upset if it requires a few follow ups. Prospects may even forget about you. Make sure your employees are politely persistent, finding ways to follow up and not always involve business. Help them make sure your company is always on their radar. Use Twitter, networking groups or mutual contacts to be noticed, not a stalker.
5. Stay organized
Use a calendar to manage your appointments and your sales people’s appointments. Make sure they pick a shared spreadsheet platform or CRM to manage contacts and communication updates – the last time the prospect was contacted (and the topic). Use folders to organize your files by prospect on your computer and your email. Keep your desk looking neat. The little things can go along way and this goes for you and your sales team.
6. Practice, refine and master the pitch
Sales people can often get cocky or set in their ways. They think they have heard every objection and have a way out of any problem. Complacency breeds failure. Constantly role-play with your employees and reverse roles to help stimulate a buyer’s mentality. Practice in front of groups and record their performance. People watching themselves can often help identify their own weaknesses and discover ways for self-improvement. The age-old epithet is true even in sales – Practice Makes Perfect.
7. Set realistic goals and make sure they are achieved
The best managers are always striving to reach new heights. It’s your job to set realistic benchmarks and work with your sales team to make sure they are being achieved. This doesn’t involve waiting until to the last day of the quarter and looking at the numbers. The journey determines the destination. Ride along with your sales people throughout the sales season and work with them to make sure they are hitting their goals. Meet with them regularly to avoid surprises and help monitor their work/personal life balance.