Signs of Trouble

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Standing on the gas pedal is the approach most organizations use to grow revenues. Just keep the sales teams focused and manage them aggressively, either through the compensation plan or by having the sales leader micro-manage the individuals, can be a common refrain from executive management.

There’s no question that most sales teams deliver better results when the right compensation plans are in place AND the leadership is actively managing activities and results. But, standing on the gas pedal for an extended length of time without maintaining the (sales) vehicle, will almost always lead to real problems.

Some signs of trouble within any sales organization include:
• Pipelines that seem to have the same opportunities as last month / quarter
• High turnover of reps or internal issues caused by sales rep frustration
• Low close rates and customers seemingly taking no action
• Few fresh leads and little feedback from the marketplace
• Low revenues, poor forecasting accuracy and missed sales projections

These are just a few of the many problems that sales organizations display when proper care and maintenance is not provided. The same is true of your car or truck. You simply cannot stand on the (sales) gas pedal for extended periods of time, ignoring oil changes, tire rotations and brake checks, without putting your entire organization at risk. The sales team needs regular care and maintenance.

Sales professionals are an interesting breed. On one hand, their skin is as thick as an elephant, constantly absorbing rejection; yet in other instances, they can be as sensitive as little babies. Strange isn’t it? Experienced sales leaders know that some of the best sales reps can be a major pain-in-the-butt internally. The rep that demonstrates high expectations internally and attempts to hold other (internal) departments accountable, typically is demonstrating that same level of passion and conviction in front of your prospects and customers… and that leads to strong sales results.

But let’s get back to standing on the gas pedal without maintaining the (sales) vehicle.

Sales professionals require regular care and maintenance, such as:
• Constant motivation, recognition and ego strokes
• Regular reminders of the vision, mission and strategy
• Sales management support – being a Zamboni and clearing the ice
• Compensation and reporting issues resolved immediately
• Visibility to the metrics (activities and results) and those of their peers
• Regular reinforcement of sales methodologies and innovative practices
• Systems and checks-and-balances that are in alignment with the mission

I’ve accomplished a lot in my sales and sales management career, though many times I draw on experience from other areas in life. As a soccer referee who regularly officiates collegiate, high school and adult amateur-level games, I know that the best tact is what is known as preventative refereeing. Some games seem to go by without any issues and it’s not by accident – it because the referee is managing the players by preempting issues before they become manifest in poor sportsmanship, fouls and misconduct.

Sales Training
The same is true of the sales organization. Don’t wait for problems to become manifest in your sales results before you take preemptive action in supporting your troops. Are you going to wait for your brakes to give out before you have them checked? How many miles will you ultimately get out of the family car if you only change the oil after the engine light comes on?

The sales organization is a major investment and one that you cannot afford to churn. Don’t churn; train!

Abraham Lincoln once said: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” He was no fool; he knew darn well how to get the most out of his tools. Your sales organization is no different.

When was the last time you took your (sales management) foot off the gas pedal and provided the teams with sales training? It’s the same as brushing your teeth or wiping your butt. You don’t have to actually do either, BUT bad things happen when you don’t!

Take the time to provide regular sales training to your teams and you’ll likely see immediate improvement AND lasting change!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on empowerment, sales and leadership. As managing director of Empowered Sales Training, Kevin works with organizations to empower sales success. Formerly, Kevin was a top performing sales executive in the ultra competitive technology sector. He's qualified for President's Club status in three Fortune 500 companies, carried the Olympic Torch and played in a national championship.

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