In this episode I answer sales management related questions:
- What are the tips, tricks, or advice on how to effectively manage my sales staff? How do I motivate them and improve their sales skills?
- How can you make underperforming sales people, increase their productivity?
- If you could automate one thing in your sales team what would it be?
Episode 45 – Transcript
On this episode I take a different approach and answer sales management questions. Welcome to another episode of The Sales Experience Podcast. My name is Jason Cutter. This is Episode 45. And this week I’ve been answering questions that I’ve heard seen, read about, been asked. And for today’s episode, I wanted to take a different approach and tackle some of the sales management based questions.
Now I know that a lot of you listen to this are sales people, but there’s also sales managers and leaders out there, listening to this. And I think it’s also good for sales reps to understand kind of part of the process and things that sales managers think about.
And so I suggest all of you to listen to this, because it’s good to understand both sides of the equation, both management and your own role if you’re a salesperson. All right, first question, I want to jump right into it.
What are the tips, tricks and advice that you could give a sales manager to manage their sales staff effectively?
This is always a tough one because there’s so many different tips and tricks and advice and things you can do to help help manage a team. It depends if it’s a call center team, is it a sales team that’s out on a floor, is it outside sales, is it inside sales, are you on a lot or in a store? There’s so many different things that can come into play.
But really the key is with managing a team effectively, is understanding the team. Understanding everybody on the team and treating them all as individuals and treating them differently. What do I mean by that?
Well, everybody’s different, everyone is special, everyone is unique. And while I covered it in the behavior weeks, where I talked about the four main fundamental behavior types, everybody is different.
One mistake I see a lot of sales managers take is they treat everybody the same. They try to apply the same rule to everybody, or the same process, or the same contest, or the same spiffs, or the same motivations or the same carrots and sticks to everybody, but everybody is different.
It may seem overwhelming, but the most important thing to do is to take each individual on the sales team as a separate person and look at their strengths, their weaknesses, their preferences, what they like, what motivates them. Really get to know who they are, understand who they are at an individual level on the team, and then really dive into why they’re there.
What’s their why, what’s their purpose? What do they put on their vision board for what they want to get as a result of closing deals, having a job making more money? What’s motivating them? Is it that they want to buy a house or they want to move out of their parents house or they want to buy a new car, they want to buy a new cell phone, they want to go on a vacation, they want to pay off debt?
Whatever that is for them, you’ve got to understand it so you can motivate them and help them achieve their goals for them and not for you. It’s basically the same thing and the same approach of what I’ve been talking about from a sales rep perspective. If you’re a salesperson, you want to make the sale about the prospect and helping them for their reasons and not for your own.
As a sales manager, you want to help that sales rep succeed for their reasons and not for your own. Yes, you have your quota. Yes, you have your requirements from your management for the business, the business needs, conversion requirements, all of the metrics. All of that is very important. However, that’s in your mind and your world, you want to make it about your reps and their world and what makes them successful and what they want.
You’ve got to be careful as a sales manager, you don’t fall into the trap of what I talked about during the behavior weeks, which is where you just look at the team from your perspective, and try to treat everyone the same on how you would like it.
Listen to Episode 31, about why the golden rule is wrong and apply that from a sales management perspective in the same way sales reps should as to their prospects. I think if there’s one thing you can do as a sales manager is to focus on that and treat everyone differently and motivate them differently. Everyone got different ways they like to play the game and so you want to make sure you do that.
Next question, how do I motivate people and improve their sales skills?
This kind of piggybacks off of the last one, where you got to motivate everyone based on themselves. There’s certain kinds of player types, if that makes sense, way people like to play games. Some people like to play games where they want to be the one that finds information, understands it, they want to be the teacher and share of knowledge.
Other ones are very competitive. Other ones have to be on the top and like to push each other. Other ones don’t like to be pushed, they just want to play their own game at their own pace. You’ve got to understand that, you got to understand what motivates everybody differently because it’s not always about money.
Sales managers classically just like to throw up money, rewards, prizes and that may not be what people want. Maybe they want more time off, more flexibility, reduced quota, if they win. Whatever it is, you’ve got them make sure you’re meeting where they’re at and then pushing them.
And then how do you improve their sales skills? That one there is about constant coaching and management of the willing, right The key is the willing. Cy Wakeman has a book called No Ego, make sure to check that out. And she talks about only working with the willing, especially in a sales environment.
You want to deal with the reps who are open and willing and want to learn and are open to your feedback, and then you can give them everything you’ve gotten. You want to coach them and help them improve, but it takes them meeting you halfway.
Nothing is worse than trying to improve somebody’s sales skills on your team and they’re just so resistant and so stuck and so defiant the very thing you’re trying to teach them that it doesn’t do any good and you’re just wasting your time. So, make sure you spend your time with the right people helping them. And when they are open and they are willing, give them everything you’ve got.
Next question, how can you make underperforming sales people increase their productivity?
The first part is that you’ve got to know where the issue is, why are they underperforming? Is it knowledge, is it attitude or is it a skill set thing? If it’s an attitude issue that’s getting in the way of their performance, there’s really not much you can do about that. You’re going to want to have a heart to heart conversation with them, try to figure out if that attitude is going to change and you might have to cut them from the team, unfortunately.
If it’s a knowledge, issue, product knowledge, industry knowledge, whatever that might be, then it’s about giving them more resources. And at the same time, like I said, in the last question that I was answering, they’ve got to be willing and open to it. You can hand somebody a ton of information and point them in the direction of everything they could find online, but they have to actually care enough, which goes into the attitude side. So, if it’s knowledge, that one’s pretty easy to fix, because you can give them more information than they could probably handle.
Now, if it’s an ability thing, if it’s a talent thing, if they don’t have the ability right now, the question is A, do they want to have the ability to they want to succeed? And then B, how do you fix that? What is the issue, what’s getting in the way? What ability are they missing? Are they not asking questions enough? Are they not diving deep enough? Are they not using active listening?
So, they’re talking, not listening, the prospects literally saying things that an experienced salesperson would pick up on and understand and then make different decisions in the conversation, where you’re underperforming sales rep is totally missing it. They’re not paying attention, they’re too busy thinking about what they’re going to say next or do next. And that means they’re missing a lot of opportunities.
Maybe the sales rep doesn’t have the ability or the skill set for asking for the close, pushing for the close, assuming the close, setting strong appointments, doing the follow ups. Whatever that might be, it’s different things you can work on, and practice and coach.
So, just imagine you’re a basketball coach, you’ve got a player, not very good at free throws, what do you do? Come in early, stay late, shoot lots of free throws, figure it out, work on that muscle memory, get a coach that’s just specific for that.
When we’re talking in sales role, you might have the restriction of the number of hours in the day, but carve out some time it will be more effective if you can focus on that. How do you get them to have the skills? Who can they listen to? Who can mentor them? Who can they sit near or talk to or stand near or be in the office around that will help them go from where they are now to where they need to be? That’s so important.
And again, they’ve got to want it and then you’ve got identify where is the issue coming? Is it a knowledge issue, which is easy, is an ability issue which you can work on over time, or is it an attitude issue, which may not be changeable? And that may be who they are. And the question is, does that work or does that not work within your organization?
The final question, I get this a lot from managers and owners, which is if you could automate one thing for the sales team, what would that be?
And I think the fundamental thing, if just I had one option, one wish, from the genie in the bottle and I can automate one thing, it would be to automate the follow ups. Follow up phone calls aren’t very fun. Reaching out to your pipeline, calling, getting voicemails, getting no answers, getting hung up on, having people tell you know or they’re busy, even if they do actually answer the phone, that overtime usually causes salespeople to not want to call anybody.
So, the one thing I would automate, there’s a lot of great technology out there that’s available in this day and age is to automate the follow ups, having your dialer having your phone system, call those people in the pipeline, follow up with them. And then basically try to get them on the phone, and then connect that to the sales reps, or automating phone calls, automating text.
There’s great technology like drips and teledrips, which will automate SMS based follow ups and use AI chatbots to have a conversation back and forth with the prospect in order to set up a scheduled time. It will literally go back and forth with them via text and set up a time for tomorrow at three o’clock, we’ll get you on the phone, and then we’ll actually dial them and connect them to your reps.
If there’s one thing I would automate, it would be the follow up on the pipeline, so that everybody on the team is spending as much time as possible on the phone with viable prospects who are interested in moving forward and not so much making the outbound calls and figuring out who they need to call next.
Because there’s so much time loss in looking through the pipeline, looking at a lead, do I want to call them? I don’t remember what happened. Oh, they weren’t very nice. Let me move on to the next one. Let me just see if this next one works. Maybe not that one, I’ll call them next Wednesday. And so there’s a lot of time lost, a lot of productivity lost in that and that’s the one thing I would automate.
That’s it for another episode of The Sales Experience Podcast. That ends this week of questions and answers. Hopefully, you found this valuable. Hopefully, some of this was little tips and information and questions maybe you had or somebody you know had, share it with them.
No matter what just please know that whoever you are listening to this, wherever you’re at in your career in life, I appreciate you listening to this kind of podcast with the goal of changing the way that sales is done, the experience that people have, what they feel like when they buy from you and how they feel about sales in general. I appreciate it. Hopefully, you’re listening to this with that goal in mind as well. If that’s the case I am so grateful. And until next time, always remember that everything in life is sales and people will remember the experience you gave them.