Knowing how to sell and knowing how to develop and manage a sales team are two different things. Owners and managers who assume their sales skills transfer to sales team leadership are at a disadvantage.
Following are some common errors company owners and sales leaders make when developing and leading their sales teams, and quick fixes to turn those problems into results.
Leaving job vacancies open too long
It’s hard to win when you don’t have enough players to properly play the game. When I started running the Western U.S. region for one of the world’s largest systems integrators, there were an average of three sales vacancies in each office. It was no wonder that the region had been missing its quota.
Fix: Make filling open positions your top priority. Nothing is more important in the long term for sales leaders and the organization. You must have enough people to properly play the game.
Not constructing a repeatable sales process
Most security companies hire salespeople and let them sell however they want. Companies like this hope and pray that the salesperson has enough talent to succeed. Organizations like this have no way to share what’s working and what isn’t, and haven’t crafted a process that works for all.
Fix: Create a sales process so it describers buyer personas and the various stages buyers go through as part of the purchasing journey. Provide direction on how salespeople can help buyers move from stage to stage.
Failing to make sales calls with salespeople
It’s easy to sit on your rear and bark out orders as a sales leader. You rely on your intuition, meetings and CRM reports and con yourself into believing these efforts will help your team surpass quota.
Fix: Schedule time each month to spend making calls with salespeople. Schedule a variety of calls so you observe salesperson performance at different stages in the buying cycle. Your best way to improve salesperson performance is through actual observation and then coaching for skill improvement.
Too many security companies allow their sales departments to become safe havens for under-achievers. They leave non-performers in place and hope some mystical force will miraculously create superstars. Keeping non-performers lowers your standards and forces other salespeople to raise their performance in order for your team to make quota.
Fix: Make sure all salespeople are following your defined sales process and using good selling skills. If they are lacking in any skills, train them. If their performance does not improve, move them out of your organization.
Making the top salesperson the sales manager
The skill sets for a top salesperson and a top sales leader are very different. Promoting the top salesperson into management usually results in losing a top salesperson while gaining a lousy manager.
Fix: When you need sales leaders, hire people that are good at coaching and leading. Don’t be obsessed with those that are talented at selling.
Frequently changing the compensation plan
How would you feel about working for someone who was constantly changing the way you earn your income? Not only would it be unsettling for most of us, it would create uncertainty because we wouldn’t be sure of what to sell.
Fix: Avoid rapid changes in the sales plan. Take a gradual approach to implementation. Get salesperson involvement to determine how to fairly compensate desired behaviors.
Catering to the “star” at the expense of the team
Too many sales leaders favor the “star” salesperson. The “star” gets all the recognition and all the hot leads. The rest of the team is underappreciated and overlooked.
Fix: The goal of sales leadership is to develop the skills of everyone on the team. Put in place coaching and skill development programs that develop your people so you have more stars.