3 Ninja-Level Sales Management Strategies
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
As a sales leader, you are the captain steering the ship. You are the coach leading the team. You are the one who will ultimately determine whether your team is a success, or not. Below are three proven sales management strategies that will give you a sustainable, high-performing sales team positioned to win.
1. Picking a team that will lead to success.
Choosing the right team can be the difference between making your numbers or not and waiting for the right candidate is key.
Go with your gut. That may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many leaders go with the “obvious” candidate versus the one that they personally feel may be a better fit for their team.
Imagine if you will, you are interviewing two candidates. One has the better resume; perhaps they went to a better school, perhaps they have worked at a long list of places. Another candidate interviews, you notice their resume is lacking, however, they have gone above and beyond to grow and learn while in their most recent position. They are excited for this opportunity and promise to give you “150% every single day.”
"Pro Tip: Instead of asking questions on how they sell, ask questions on what their process is when they buy."
You noticed that the first candidate had the attitude that they are just going through the motions, while the second candidate was hungry and excited, open to learning and growing. Going with your gut may sound like the obvious option, but it isn’t always that black and white. As sales leaders, it is important to go with the right candidate for your team. That doesn’t always mean the person who looks the best on paper.
How do you find the sales rep that consistently exceeds their numbers? How do you find the sales rep that sees a number and says, “I HAVE to beat it?”
Think about it. Who makes the best sales rep? Is it someone who fights for every single lead or someone who simply goes through the motions day after day? Is it the person who sees the next opportunity and says, “I WILL earn their business,” or is it the rep who says, “I’ll get to that later.”
Typically, the sales rep who is going to do all they can is going to have that same “energy” during the interview process. They are excited, they are driven, they are hungry to take on this challenge and prove themselves. This is something that cannot be “seen” on a piece of paper. That is why interviewing in person is so important.
It’s important to find a sales rep that doesn’t act as if they “know everything.” While it’s important to find someone, who is hungry and driven, it is equally important to find someone who is willing to learn and grow.
What is the point in taking your time to be a coach if you hired someone that is not coachable?
Ask good questions during the interview process. If they are the same as everyone else, they are not good. Try to steer away from the cliché, “what is your greatest strength and weakness?” A seasoned salesperson is usually a professional interviewer. A good place to start may be, “Tell me about a time that you were going to lose the business but came up with a solution to get it back.”
Pro Tip: Instead of asking questions to see how they sell, ask questions on what their process is when they buy.
Were they only looking for a good deal? Did they think they got one? Did they refer the person they bought from? Did they shop? Did they talk about the purchase with others before buying?
These questions typically give a sales interviewee confidence. You will be able to better see how they handle ego and decision making.
Two things I frequently notice:
Almost everyone that purchases a car thinks they got a good deal.
If your sales candidate always tries to get the best price when buying, they usually don’t think they can sell unless they can drop the price (and margin for your company).
Anyone can be trained to learn your system or understand your company’s policies. But it is expensive to work to change a person’s personality or their inner drive. It is up to you to determine whether the candidate you are interviewing has “it.” Go with your gut. It’s usually right. Even if HR does not agree.
2. Positive reinforcement and why it should be your “go to.”
Think about it this way, when you were hiring your candidate, did you go with the person with the positive energy? The person who wanted to prove him or herself? If so, what do you think negative reinforcement will do to that energy? Will it make them feel motivated? Or will it make them feel defeated? Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to have discussions with your sales team if someone is under performing. However, before you do, try taking a step back.
First, ask yourself, why is this person struggling? Is it because of an economic reason beyond their control? Did they have a couple of cancellations that no one could have foreseen? Or is it because they aren’t putting in the effort? It is SO important to determine this before having any discussions with your team member.
If your sales rep is typically a high producer and is simply struggling right now because of something outside of his or her control, how do you think they will feel when you bring this up in a negative and reprimanding way? This person is probably already being extremely hard on himself/herself.
"The last thing you want to do is to make the sales rep feel like you are backing them into a corner."
By bringing it up when it’s clearly outside of their control, you are not only making them feel worse, but you’re letting them know that you don’t have their back. What happens when next quarter roles around and suddenly they are back doing what they do best? Will they consider going to the competitor? They just might if they don’t feel valued.
If you are hiring the right candidate in the first place, the one who doesn’t take no for an answer and fights for the business, then the best you can do is show them you are in their corner. Take the time to tell them you are proud of them. Take the time to say they are doing an amazing job when they ARE performing.
And when they aren’t, point out the times they were doing well and let them know, “You got this.” You’d be amazed by how much of a difference that will make. Instead of feeling more negative about themselves, now your sales rep is focused and re-energized. They want to do well, not only for themselves but for you as well.
3. Leaders Coach. Bosses Manage.
Be a Leader.
Now, you have a sales rep that hasn’t been performing, and clearly it has nothing to do with the economy, cancellations or anything else beyond their control. How do you handle this?
Always talk to them candidly. “What’s going on? Is there anything I can do to help?” Maybe there is something you don’t know about in their personal life that is driving their sales performance down. Perhaps they are feeling defeated lately and can’t get out of that slump. You will never know unless you ask. Just like with your customers, candid, honest relationships with your sales team members matter.
Try this approach when your sales team members numbers are down. Come up with a “game plan” and make sure it feels like you are in this “together.” Don’t ask them to come up with a plan and just give it to you. If you don’t lead the way with the conversation, they will feel that you are asking them to do the work just so you can scrutinize it. The last thing you want to do is to make the sales rep feel like you are backing them into a corner. Try leading with these questions to bring the ball to the court and then let them take the ball and run with it:
What do you think a good plan should look like?
How can we hold each other accountable to it?
How can I support you through the process?
What does success look like?
Sometimes the best thing you can do is offer advice from your own sales experience when they are in a slump. “I remember being where you are, I remember feeling defeated, I told myself I was going to call every single client until one of them said yes.” Bringing up real life examples will make them feel like they “aren’t alone” and give them real life tips that they can start utilizing. Another key benefit is that you are showing vulnerability yourself, which in turn will build a more trusting relationship.
When there is trust and there is a plan, you have a sustainable, high-performing sales team positioned to win.
Jay Galvin is the Managing Partner of The Galvin Group, a training and consulting firm.
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©The Galvin Group, LLC. 2020