Summary: Make no mistake, it is a huge challenge to implement and sustain a successful sales partnership and cross-sell strategy. All levels of management must model good collaborative behaviors.
But if you implement the four fundamentals of a successful partnership, the payoff leads to more revenue, better customer relationships, and less of a chance of customers looking elsewhere.
Crossing the sales partnering or collaboration bridge is a lot easier said than done. Yet customer growth and retention often depend on a successful collaboration between two organizations business units or colleagues.
Many organizations simply reorganize the office or modify the compensation plan to motivate their teams to work together. But these tactics don't truly motivate people to work together for each other's or their customer's best interests. And they don't address the salesperson's perceived risk that they'll lose control of the customer relationship in the new partnership situation. It doesn't even matter that the possibility of increased compensation is dangled in front of them.
In any situation where people are to partner or team for the collective good, you must know how to not just talk the partnership talk, but to walk the walk:
Get clear on how to meet customer needs. What must be done to satisfy your mutual customers? The first step is to understand, align with, and commit to the activities that are important to your customers. Gain clarity on those things that must be done well when interfacing with customers and how to meet and exceed their expectations.
Management, too, has to play nicely in the same sandbox. Everyone in the partnering organizations must play nicely in the same sandbox, and that's especially true of the management teams. They need to model partnering in both their words and body language. If they don't, and they start complaining about their new counterparts, their staff will quickly figure out they probably don't need to collaborate either.
Creating a productive, trustworthy partnership depends on three critical success factors:
- Mutual agreement on how to resolve problems
Without this type of collaboration, the relationship can easily dissolve, breeding a lack of trust, lowering credibility, and creating mutual disrespect.
Constant coaching is key. Most managers don't stop to figure out how to change their coaching in the new partnership arrangement. They keep coaching as they did before, wondering why it's no longer working. The focus of their coaching needs to change to helping their team develop good partnering skills, because their team members may not trust each other or respect the value each other brings to the customer.
The new partnership may not generate short or even long-term success for the salespeople or their customers. Managers will need to analyze areas for mprovement and identify new activities that encourage collaboration. They must also refocus their feedback to include:
Identifing new potential partner products.
Positioning why the partnership is of value to the customer/prospect
Transitioning the customer/prospect to the partner and ensuring they meet the customer's expectations
Working with the customer to ensure a successful experience
Get the right people on the partnership bus. The right people -- people who are team-oriented in nature -- should be invited onto the partnerhip bus. Some may be able to learn how to cooperate, communicate and collaborate, while others can not. So get a good running start on a successful partnerhip by retaining and hiring those who naturally have a team mindset.
Presumably you are a sales manager or salesperson if you are reading this. If so, have you
ever wondered why when some managers or coaches seem to always be in control and everyone seems to get better when working with them? Their interactions are fluid and purposeful. How do I get that you think?
I see a lot of different sales managers in action, in-the-field, coaching their salespeople. The most productive and successful managers I've encountered have what I call a "three-dimensional" coaching approach. It's what I believe allows these managers to feel in control, proactively coaching their teams versus perpetually reacting. Conversely, those who aren't as effective as they'd like can't seem to put their finger on why; it usually can be tracked back to one of the following three dimensions that are missing:
The Three Dimensions of Coaching: Focus, Discipline, and Effectiveness
Dimension #1: Coaching Focus
Most sales managers were formerly successful salespeople. When going on a sales call as a salesperson, they always knew the objective of any client or prospect meeting. But in the sales manager role, I rarely witness that kind of clarity and intention. As you can imagine, or maybe have experienced, without clarity a session wanders around, loses focus, and inevitably ends up going down a path not anticipated. Control of the interaction is lost, the session likely went long, and no one got any real value out of it.
Do you have a clear improvement focus for each member of your sales team? Do you and they know the focus and understand its significance and why it will help them for their reasons? From what I've seen, the best managers do. In every interaction, whether it's a simple check in with someone or a formal one-to-one setting, the best managers have a clear picture (based on current and past performance insight) of where they want to take a person to best maximize that individual's success — and they link to it repeatedly.
Take Action: Before your next coaching interactions with each team member, determine what your mission is with them. Reflect on past and current performance results. Think about the behaviors you have observed. Ponder the obstacles you think are preventing them from great or even greater success. Then decide on one or two areas you will focus on to help them improve. Engage them in a conversation about that focus and how you'd like to make that happen for them. Make that theme central to each interaction.
Dimension #2: Coaching Discipline
There are only a handful of interaction types you engage in with your salespeople: sales and/or pipeline meetings, one-on-ones, a checking-in type of interaction, or out in the field working together. When working with struggling sales managers, I look at how they spend their time. Usually I find their interactions are unplanned, reactive, focused on trying to save the bottom 20% of their team, and are over-reliant on group meetings. I also find individual field work or one-to-one time is sporadic at best, and usually not frequent enough to build momentum or improvement of any significance.
The best sales managers are masters and commanders of their time. They schedule interactions with each of their people and balance the frequency and length based on need, style of the salesperson, and potential impact. They treat those scheduled interactions sacredly and never miss. They are focused and efficient, never wasting a moment of time on the non-important. Amazingly and eventually unplanned fires, phone calls, and emails seem to dissipate to a trickle. The predictability of the schedule and focused coaching of their people teaches them how to avoid fires or better treat them on their own. They create an independent accountable sales force through consistent involvement.
Take Action: Individual development happens individually — and needs to happen through your coaching or it likely won't happen at all. Therefore, take control! Get out your calendar. Map out planned individual one-on-one interactions for each of your salespeople on a regular basis. If you have a lot of people and a big geography, then space them accordingly. If you have a small team that's local, then increase the frequency. Start small but build consistency.
Dimension #3: Coaching Effectiveness
Are you adding value? Are you focusing on coaching and what the salesperson needs versus your own needs (such as asking for reporting information, or low-impact information)? Over the 20 years we've spent working with managers, we've detailed eight unique coaching effectiveness skills/orientations the best in the business seem to have. Check them out here.
Just as we ask our salespeople to improve their skills, sales leaders have to constantly do the same. There is a lot of noise out in the market regarding "Leadership Training" and that each manager needs it. We agree. Work at these eight skills and we promise anyone you work with will label you a great leader.
Take Action: Read through the eight effectiveness drivers. Pick one you feel, or have received feedback from someone indicating, you can improve in. If it's "Ask More Than Tell" then write it down at the top of your coaching notes for each session. Catch yourself doing it right and wrong. Get a book on the topic. Make a conscious decision to improve today. When you've mastered one skill, add another.
Friday and the weekend are great times to step back and take a "clarity" break. I encourage you to do so. Are you minding each of these three dimensions as you go about your coaching efforts? If yes, excellent! If no, make some adjustments and I am sure you and your team will reap the benefits.
Pipeline is a measure of sales activity effectiveness and is the discipline of analyzing sales effectiveness.
Salespeople and sales managers who agree with this principle can gain a competitive advantage; but experiencing that advantage requires adherence to a few fundamentals. Skipping any one of the fundamentals fills pipelines with poor quality opportunities, inflates with too many opportunities that aren't real, and gives a false sense of hope. Executing the following three fundamentals provides invaluable insight on what is working and what needs to be done differently or better to drive increased performance.
Pipeline stages must connect to sales process stages.
Most companies have sales processes, or at least a process taught in a sales training class that incorporates how to identify needs, present solutions, and close with customers. One would assume that being successful at each stage of the sales process would be what is measured in the pipeline. Frequently what we see as we review pipelines is the two have no connection. It's not uncommon to see: companies with twice as many levels in their pipelines as there are steps in their sales process, or names of the pipeline stages that have nothing to do with the names of the sales process stages. Good luck using pipeline as a means to diagnose sales activity effectiveness if you haven't directly connected pipeline to sales process.
Pipeline opportunity progress must be based on client and company milestones.
It is fascinating to see how frequently a sales opportunity is allowed to move to the next pipeline stage or get a high forecast probability because the opportunity has passed internal milestones (such as the company wants and/or believes that the business can be won). Sales is about getting the client to make a decision in your favor, yet many times evidence of the client moving closer to choosing the company is not even included in the definition of the opportunity having progressed. Best in class always have a client and company milestone for each stage of the pipeline. If the opportunity does not meet both criteria, it is not allowed to move to the next level. This prevents the salesperson or company from being delusional in their assessment of where the opportunity really is in relation to winning the business.
Pipeline opportunity movement gets date stamped.
Salespeople have a tendency to keep opportunities in the pipeline way past when the opportunity is alive. This contamination of a pipeline can easily be solved by the salesperson noting the date the opportunity moved to a specific pipeline stage. This allows everyone to see the reality of an opportunity. If a salesperson has not been able to get movement on an opportunity within an agreed upon period of time, that becomes visible and decisions must be made relative to additional actions or resources dedicated to winning the business. The saying "up or off" is a great mantra when pipeline management is done well. Most companies know how long a quality opportunity takes to move from one stage of the pipeline to the next so this is simple to execute. Any opportunity that is significantly outside the timeframe should be either moved back to an earlier pipeline stage or taken off the pipeline altogether.
Key Message: A well defined and executed pipeline discipline is invaluable. Take it on and stay with the above three fundamentals to experience the payoff.
Everyone says they coach but what are the RESULTS?
Nearly twenty years ago, Business Efficacy started to coach sales and this was a new idea. Today, sales coaching is considered the "in thing.” Why do some coaches enhance improvement and sales productivity, while others fail to make a difference? What does it take to become a sales "performance" coach, a coach who can get people motivated to change and improve individual sales results?
Sales "performance" coaching begins with an objective, which is different than other forms of coaching. Its goals are to reach measurable changes and sales results. It starts with determining what an individual is expected to accomplish. The individual is helped with activities to generate results. All of the coaching activities focus on enhancing the skill and knowledge necessary for sales improvement.
Most coaching today is generalized not individualized. Sales "performance" coaching is 100% customized for a specific individual. It gathers quality performance and behavioral data, then analyzes and evaluates what is working and what is not working for an individual's execution of sales fundamentals. "Performance" coaching assesses the fundamentals of call quantity, whether the calls are with the right customers, and what is occurring during the customer interaction. This is followed with one-on-one coaching to improve the most critical skill, knowledge, or activity needing improvement. The individualized development activities are the most probable way to help the individual learn. Sales "performance" coaching incorporates how to apply what was learned, on the job immediately. Generalized coaching attacks an assumed common skill or knowledge gap, uses the same learning method with all, lets the individual figure out how to put the learning into action, and has no defined measurement of progress.
Another difference in sales "performance" coaching is motivation. The sales "performance" coach motivates an individual to change. If the coach is the only one motivated to help an individual improve, nothing happens. The coach must determine how to engage an individual to try to improve and to reach higher levels of sales performance.
People do things for their reason, not ours. This sounds obvious, yet most managers miss answering "what's in it for me." If the answer to the question is not connected to what an individual cares about and what motivates them, the manager faces an uphill battle. A great "performance" coach determines early on what motivates a particular individual and uses that continually as a means to get the individual to change. Assuming that an individual will change because you asked them to, or because you told him/her it is good for the company, is living in yesterday's world.
A sales "performance" coach requires certain leadership characteristics. A sales "performance" coach must possess courage to pursue higher levels of performance, deal with resistance, and stay the course long enough to obtain change.
A sales "performance" coach must be passionate about helping individuals improve. It is tough work helping someone step out of his/her comfort zone and be vulnerable to failure by trying new approaches and striving to hit new goals. Without being passionate about developing people, a coach ends up going through the motions of coaching and the people end up going through the motions of learning.
Another characteristic a sales "performance" coach must have is the ability to think critically. A great sales "performance" coach gathers data, sees what changes need to be made, and figures out how to motivate and help an individual learn what must be done in order to reach higher levels of performance. A non-performance coach uses a set of coaching activities that are comfortable against an assumed set of problems with a common set of solutions. A sales "performance" coach gets performance improvement from all levels of performers and in sales productivity, when the individuals are a "fit" for the job.
The term coaching will soon pass as another fad unless people begin to understand the difference between "coaching" and "performance" coaching. "Performance coaching" is challenging work that requires dedication on behalf of the coach to help someone go beyond where they are today. All of us must strive to make our coaching activities valuable to our employees and not just an activity that has no return on time. "Performance coaching" is the way to break through the mediocrity of current performance from our people.
These days it seems as if every business is telling managers to be good coaches. It is the right thing to be emphasizing, but one has to ponder if business leaders really understand what they are asking managers to do.
A coach has to be chairman of the board, a regular person, confidant, taskmaster, motivational speaker, public relations expert, and psychologist all at once, and that’s on a good day. The expectation is that the coach is always “on.” Can you imagine addressing the same group of people day after day, meeting after meeting, year after year? Holding their attention is hard enough let alone saying something meaningful.
That’s just the start of the coaching challenge. There are always going to be people problems. One person has a personal problem, another a performance problem and another has a problem but doesn’t even realize a problem exists. That’s the employee side of the equation. The coach also reports to and works beside other managers. These individuals are job talents, but are also card-carrying members of the human race. They bring to their roles and responsibilities hopes, dreams, beliefs, and tendencies that must be respected, leveraged, and sometimes, diplomatically worked around.
The American way is to work hard and long. Everyone puts in many hours of work. This means good morale is a must. Who do you think the chief morale officer is? Of course, it is the coach. Attitude and atmosphere come top down, not employee up.
OK, you get it! Coaching involves doing a lot. It is people science and it is hard. So here are a few fundamentals every manager/coach can do to make “hard” easier:
Decide what must be accomplished to hit target results. One can’t do everything. Choose to achieve what matters most and stick with going after it.
Analyze what barriers block the path to performance achievement. Know the root cause of non-performance. Anyone can identify the obvious. Find out what fundamentally is getting in the way.
Commit to developing each individual to be great at each critical success behavior. This includes performers. Star performers want to be best performers. They expect their coach to help them get to the top and stay there. Make everyone better.
Know each employee’s primary and secondary job motivation. Learn what makes each person “tick.”
Link critical success behaviors to each individual’s motivations. Ensure that what you are asking one to do makes sense from his/her perspective.
Work one-on-one with each employee daily. Commit to providing a minimum of two to four minutes of developmental coaching to each individual every 24 hours. It doesn’t have to be just face-to-face time. Take advantage of all available communication methods.
Celebrate achievement. Never miss an opportunity to reward individual success and improvement. Make a big deal out of little successes. Do it both one-on-one and in group settings. Both are important.
Do not tolerate non-performance. Accept only the critical success behaviors being done correctly. Stay with it until you get the necessary behavior change. If one refuses to change, help that individual understand that his/her talents may be better suited for something else.
Have fun. Coaching is a lot to do. Doing it well is fulfilling. Helping others achieve matters.
Pipeline management wins the prize for causing the most unneeded confusion and frustration by both sales management and salespeople.
As I work with all levels of sales management in both small and large organizations, I can always count on pipeline to be an opportunity for improvement. Pipeline management, like coaching, is something everyone thinks they are doing yet most of the time isn’t being done or done well. Very few have figured out the essence of what pipeline management actually is and how to get it executed well.
I see lots of evidence exposing many erroneous beliefs, practices, and traps such as:
- Pipeline is a synonym for forecast.
- Talking through each deal in a pipeline is productive.
- Having salespeople share the details of their pipeline in group settings is an effective and efficient learning and accountability practice.
- Bigger is better.
The Real Truths
Pipeline is a measure of sales activity effectiveness.
All sales managers track sales calls; most are challenged to follow through and analyze the progress and effectiveness of the sales calls. If done right the pipeline should show what new opportunities were added, what opportunities moved to the next stage, and which moved off. This data, when correlated with what type and quantity of calls as well as the dates when the activities were done, gives great insight into sales effectiveness.
Pipeline management is the regular discipline of analyzing sales effectiveness.
Many sales managers use the pipeline as simply a list of all the current deals. They use “the list” to have their salesperson step them through the details of each opportunity, share the next steps, and potentially strategize to move the opportunity better or faster. Even worse, some use one-on-ones or team meetings to gather data about opportunities. Pipeline management done well is very different than these common practices. Good pipeline management consists of a manager and a salesperson analyzing what the pipeline says about: the number and type of calls being made, the effectiveness of the calls, and determining the most critical sales activity or effectiveness gaps.
Forecast is the prediction of what business is expected to close and within what timeframe.
Forecasts require knowing what opportunities are being worked, when the buying decisions might be made, and what the chances are for winning. Things go awry when organizations focus salespeople more on what’s coming in instead of keeping them focused on call activity and adding and moving opportunities within the pipeline. Forecasting should be a science that’s driven by management and based on the probability of each opportunity’s success. Managers create problems when they make their salespeople guess the probability of closing a particular deal. Often times the salesperson’s guess is not based on any previous performance history or a stage of the sales process, but instead just the salesperson’s gut. This practice of gathering the salesperson’s guess mixed with the sales manager’s intuition creates great inconsistencies and inaccuracies in a forecast.
Key Message: Think about how you approach pipeline management. Make sure you’re not wasting valuable time doing a wrong-way version of a potentially breakthrough discipline, practice, and tool.
I recently attended the Sales Management Association annual conference Sales Force Productivity Conference 2012.
The best-selling author of SPIN Selling, Neil Rackham was the key speaker for the event, and he shared some thoughts about the biggest issues that are shaping sales today. I’ve depicted his viewpoints below; I’ve also added my own thoughts about the impact these issues can have on sales management. Agree, disagree, have others to add? Share your comments below!
Big Thing #1 – Ready or not we’ve entered the Organic Growth era.
Over the last 30 years leveraged spending, plummeting interest rates, and opening untapped markets made growth relatively easy for many companies. We went through the Process Improvement and Remove Variability era, and we also went through the Acquisition era. But things have changed. Today most of those drivers have less viability. What does all of this mean? Organizations have increasingly moved inward and are focused on what gaps in the market can the company close with the capabilities it has or could reasonably expect to develop.
What’s this mean for sales management?
The spotlight is on sales like never before. This means much is expected of sales leaders. The talents required to lead change initiatives, drive execution, and build dynamic teams are at a premium. Increasingly we’re seeing more senior executives with sales pedigrees be appointed the CEO’s chair. This is driving decision-making to funnel more resources towards building the sales effort. The awareness that sales leadership is a critical and organizational competency is at an all time high.
Big Thing #2 – It’s the end of the Better Mousetrap era.
For every Apple Inc. there are literally thousands of failures. Global marketplaces, advances in technology and manufacturing, and the explosion of the Internet have created extremely low barriers to entry. Potential customers have access to more information about you and your competitors than ever before. As a result, products and services are commoditized in days versus years. The window of opportunity for better products has become minimal. To remain viable and grow organizationally companies and leaders need to excel at the customer interface; demonstrating superior sales and service is key.
What’s this mean for sales management?
With everything essentially equal in the prospect’s mind (the minds that matter!), how organizations sell is more critical than what they sell. An effective sales force has become the best competitive advantage. A premium is placed on advancing and selecting sales managers who understand how to develop their people in the new selling environment.
Big Thing #3 – Customers have changed the definition of value.
With products and services mostly commoditized and customers having self-educated, the game has changed. Prospects and customers define value today. Therefore sales forces must CREATE value, not COMMUNICATE it. Prospects and customers are placing a premium on salespeople who provide ideas, creativity, uncover hidden issues, and help them change or rethink their strategic direction. Meanwhile educating them on their industry, what competitors are doing, or articulating “me too” statements (Great service! Integrity!) has moved from valuable to permission-to-play requirements.
What’s this mean for sales management?
Teams or organizations that have too many “talking brochures” on the street are at high risk of irrelevance in a market where customers demand we increase creativity. It’s incumbent on sales management to push people to think differently about the content and objective of customer interactions — and more critically, to hire and develop that capability. Ask your reps after a customer interaction, “Do you think the customer would’ve written a check for that meeting?” If the answer is no, you have work to do on how to CREATE value.
Big Thing #4 – Costs associated with deal chasing are going sky-high.
Why are the costs sky-high? The competitive evaluation process is taking longer. Increasing product and issue complexity, more stakeholders, more requirements for customization, and tighter prospect budgets are all critical factors. The prospect of these factors going away is slim to none.
What’s this mean for sales management?
The more complex the opportunity and greater the size of the investment, the more important the need becomes to remove the decision to pursue opportunities from the salesperson’s plate. Most salespeople are eternally optimistic; every deal is a good one, every deal is winnable. Sales managers who don’t take a great role in qualifying deals into the pipeline risk salespeople chasing hopeless opportunities while walking away and contributing less time and attention to more winnable opportunities. Ultimately it’ll mean fewer deals in the pipeline but a significant improvement in win rate, top-line, and most significantly dollars through to the bottom line.
“Sales leaders possess the audacity to be the catalyst for needed behavior change to accelerate accomplishment.”
After working with hundreds of managers day in and day out, those few things that differentiate the highly successful from those who are not become noticeable.
The following captures the essence of the orientation and approach used by the most successful sales leaders.
Let’s dissect the quote one keyword at a time.
“Audacity.” Sales demands boldness, aggressiveness, and focus on the mission. Successful leaders bring spirited action to help others do whatever it takes to do the right tactics for achievement. Accomplishment is the only acceptable outcome.
“Catalyst.” Leaders dive into the fray whenever needed for a positive outcome. Likewise, they refrain from injecting themselves into low impact situations. Bottom line, success is just not possible through passiveness. Sales leadership is about having the courage and perseverance to help salespeople be “difference-makers” for customers. Often they are the vitality source for making results happen.
“Behavior Change.” Effective sales managers align each team member’s actions to the best high impact practices for achievement. They understand it is human to resist change. Yet they embrace the notion that everyone inherently wants to be successful. So they move forward on behalf of each individual with effort and technique. They insist on each person taking responsibility for execution within agreed timing. They know how essential all is in order to sustain impervious performance of the most critical and high impact behaviors required for individual, team, and market success.
“Accelerate.” Leaders know a secret to success is getting people there faster. That’s why the sales manager as a developer is catalytic for growth. To achieve top-notch sales performance, the sales manager must know how to push down on the accelerator for forward momentum and traction. This must be done with individualized deftness to affect both urgency and speed to desired performance.
“Accomplishment.” Unlike many other business management roles, the sales manager’s purpose must be to achieve revenue. Anything that’s associated with production must be within the purview of the manager. They must hit their revenue target. Anything else just doesn't work. The best know a sales plan in and of itself won’t help them hit their target. They need to know how to implement the plan. They must employ frequency, urgency, and efficacy to drive forward movement and achievement that exceeds expectations.
Summary: This quote encapsulates what the best do. Great sales leadership embraces an audacious and effective means for accelerated accomplishment.
Most people assume sales and sales management are art forms and not science, but both are true.
What’s even more important to understand is most new sales managers don't know the science — the disciplines, rhythm, and routines — behind managing. They know they are supposed to work with their salespeople and generate sales, but how many new sales managers really know what they are supposed to do?
If you ask salespeople today about their managers you’ll get a long list of things managers do that doesn’t add value. Here are just a few examples: goes on sales calls unprepared and then takes over the call, conducts sales meetings that waste the team's time covering topics that are of low value or better covered in a different forum, gives coaching that is simply going through the deals in the pipeline making a salesperson give an update on the details so a forecast can be generated.
Avoid wasting salespeople's time and maximize time spent with salespeople. Know the essence of the work to be done and stay focused on delivering value.
- Joint Field Work
Go on sales calls and use them as an opportunity to: assess a salesperson's ability to execute a sales process, behavior, or activity. Do real-time development, and then reinforce what is working and what needs to be done better.
- Scheduled One-On-Ones
Use this time to mutually analyze the previous week’s activities and results and the upcoming week’s activities. Confirm what is working and what needs improvement, and then develop an action plan on what matters most.
- Spontaneous One-On-Ones
Take advantage of spur-of-the-moment conversations. Reinforce key expectations or ask about executing key expectations that you’ve previously communicated, and then give appropriate feedback.
- Sales Meetings
Leverage the group forum to provide learning and problem solving on common critical gaps, issues, or priorities. Motivate and hold your team accountable to critical metrics, and reinforce team expectations.
Avoid the rut and break the pattern. Make sure the work being done by sales management adds value.
New sales managers often pick up bad habits from previous sales managers or fall into unproductive norms that have been established by their sales organizations.
The most common unproductive management practice is the habit of gathering and reporting sales results data to salespeople, data that is already known and of no value to the salesperson.
Repeatedly reminding a salesperson of their sales goal, where they are at to date, what the gap is, and how much time is left to close the gap is like a sports coach telling their team the score of the game at halftime and explaining how many points they need win and how much time is left. The players already know that data — having it shared is of no value.
Salespeople today have many ways of knowing how they performed with most having immediate reporting available online. A manager who points out the obvious accomplishes nothing other than to irritate their salesperson or have them become numb to the communication.
The intent behind communicating the data is good; the problem is in the execution. Assessing a salesperson's performance is vital, and it’s critical that it gets done in a way that actually adds value.
So instead of falling into old traps, new managers should:
- Know what good sales execution looks like. Before you can assess you must know what good looks like from all dimensions. In sales that means knowing what the call activity needs to be, who are the right customers or prospects, and what the sales interactions look like at each step of the sales process or methodology. You must also know what the leading indicators of success should be, such as key pipeline metrics.
- Consistently gather data on each behavior. With a clear picture of what good looks like a manager must then diligently gather information on what is happening with each sales behavior. This requires the manager to inspect pre-call plans, go on joint calls, do post-call debriefs, review call information, and know who was called upon. A manager absolutely needs this quality information to get to the vital next step.
- Analyze the difference between the what-good-looks-like behaviors and what was done. Assessing execution is now simple. Compare what is supposed to happen to what is happening. This ascertains what is working and what needs improvement. Communicating this information to a salesperson will directly get what’s needed for success.
Summary: Yes, assess sales execution. Just make sure it’s done in a way that truly adds value. Help your salespeople focus on doing behaviors that have the most impact on results. Salespeople always want to know what behaviors they should continue to do and what one or two behaviors need to change that would most improve their performance.