by Eliot Burdett, co-founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting
With the 2nd quarter of the Fiscal Year underway, it is time for public and private companies alike to assess their financial success over the first part of the year.
This is a particularly crucial time period for companies that rely on sales to drive revenue. It is the time for senior management to assess which of their salespeople are on their way to earning the proverbial set of steak knives and which ones need help and motivation to reach their goals.
Similar to a coach who has to give a speech with the team down 20 points, what is the best way to ensure sales reps pick up their game after a lackluster first quarter?
Here are 7 tools that will put sales reps in positions to succeed and help companies reach their financial numbers by the end of the fiscal year:
1. Communicate the Importance of the Target to the Team, Again.
While the reasons for hitting sales targets may be blatantly obvious to every senior manager in the company, sales reps may be too focused on their own day-to-day to see the forest through the trees. Even if the team has heard the message fifty times, it literally pays to keep reinforcing the message.
2. Excuse vs. Issue.
When a salesperson is struggling, they may make excuses. At the same time, there could be a real issue standing in their way. It is important for senior leaders to listen to employee concerns and do their part to fix any macro problems that could be hampering their staff. If the determination is that no major roadblock exists, and a person is still struggling, it may be time to have an honest chat about the company’s expectations and if there needs to be a change.
3. Monitor Activity Volumes.
While some people possess an “it” factor, in most cases sales success is simply numbers game. Make 50 calls to line up 10 meetings and make five sales. If a person is struggling, see if the number of calls, meetings and proposals they are making are in line with typical ratios required to hit targets. If not, this is the likely reason for their struggles and it is time to remind them to pick it up.
4. Track Deal Slide.
Take a look at what percentage of forecasted deals are sliding into the next quarter. Often times a rep will put a deal on the backburner, believing there is other low hanging fruit. Since time kills deals it is up to the manager figure out why deals keep slipping and offer clear guidance and support that will help the rep close before the quarter is up.
5. Focus on the Target and Ask Tough Questions.
Effective sales managers ask their reps tough questions to determine if they are actually on track to hit quota. By consistently qualifying and validating a rep’s pipeline size, in addition to emphasizing the right selling tasks and behaviors that will enable them to achieve their target, sellers will be able to keep their eye on the prize.
6. Don’t let anyone quit.
It is somewhat common for people to quit if they feel like there is no way they will make their numbers this quarter. Sales leaders should watch for defeatist attitudes and focus on motivating those reps to keep pushing to close deals. Remind them that there is still plenty of time, that they are only one big deal away and that they should continue to prospect and good things will happen. If the person consistently quits, it is time for a change.
7. Find Ways to Have Fun.
There is an old saying in sales to “smile through the phone.” Whether selling in person, on the phone or via Twitter, remember to always encourage your team to have fun. Try utilizing friendly competitions and organizing team building events since clients and potential customers will be drawn to the positive energy, leading to more sales, guaranteed.
Eliot Burdett is the cofounder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006. Under his direction, the company leads the industry with a success rate 50% higher than the industry average, working with a wide-range of clients including boutique, mid-size and world-class companies including P&G, Gartner, Deloitte, Merck, Western Union and others. He co-authored “Sales Recruiting 2.0: How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast“.