As a business owner, you are an expert in many things. However, sales may not necessarily be one of them. Although you know your product or service better than anyone, there are a lot of nuances to managing your sales process as effectively as possible that you may not have had experience with in the past. So, we asked three successful sales managers for their top tips to streamline the sales process.
Implement a Pipeline Review
No one likes micromanaging. But a great sales manager must micromanage the company’s pipeline by implementing a clear, effective and consistent pipeline review, according to Jeff Goldberg, president and lead sales trainer of Jeff Goldberg & Associates.
Separate the pipeline review from the sales forecast. This is an important distinction that many sales managers fail to make.
A pipeline is a visual representation of potential deals, which should be thoroughly reviewed on a weekly basis. Too often sales managers don’t consistently monitor sales activity details.
During the weekly review, help the salesperson strategize the deal forward by asking a few leading questions. Questions can include: What decision-makers are involved in your conversations? What was discussed? What was the tone? Where did you leave things? When is the next meeting? Based on the salesperson’s responses, you can help him or her see the interaction from your fresh perspective, utilizing your knowledge and expertise. It may also be a great opportunity to teach the salesperson that sometimes it’s better to walk away from deals that won’t materialize.
In addition, separate the pipeline review from the sales forecast. This is an important distinction that many sales managers fail to make. A pipeline may contain deals that will never come to fruition. It may also contain deals that could take time to nurture or will change completely over time. The sales forecast is an accurate picture of what is happening now.
Track Leading and Lagging Indicators
Teach your team to gauge the likelihood of a potential sale using leading and lagging indicators. Sales, costs and profits are lagging indicators, measuring something that’s already occurred. It is perhaps more important, and more complex, to track leading indicators.
A leading indicator is a tangible advance with the client. These tangibles will vary based on your specific industry and company. It could be the client giving the salesperson a specific budget to work with for the proposed deal. It could be a meeting to outline plans between the client and salesperson. This tells the salesperson that the client needs their service and a plan is unfolding. However, it can’t be, “We had lunch and they said, ‘Great, come back next month,’” says Scott Edinger of Edinger Consulting Group, an expert on leadership for revenue growth.
Learn to Be a Transformational Leader
Now that you are getting more comfortable with assessing your team’s prospects and sales activities, it is time to assess what type of leader you want to be for your team.
There are typically two types of leaders: transactional and transformational. Transactional leaders focus solely on numbers. However, to get the most out of your team, strive to be a transformational leader. Tim Shurr, president of Shurr ! Success Seminars, says this leadership style is about listening, validating and motivating based on the specific person’s needs.
“I teach sales managers to listen to the last word of the last sentence that people say,” says Shurr. Too often, we don’t truly listen to people when they are speaking to us. We know what we want to say and the agenda we want to push. If you are focusing in on that last word, the idea is you are listening to everything they say. This should be applied in a one-on-one conversation or in a group meeting.Print this article