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As we have often discussed, sales managers have 4 main roles in the day-to-day management of their sales team. This involves coaching, which should represent 50% of their work, holding their reps accountable, motivating them and ensuring the recruitment of the best talent.
Among these essential responsibilities, accountabilty is generally the one that causes the greatest discomfort for many managers who fear resistance or even their sales representatives quiting. However, a lack of control over your team can have significant consequences on the achievement of sales goals and on the performance of the organization as a whole.
Since the notion of accountability is still poorly perceived today, I share with you 3 common management errors and how to ensure better control over the discipline and performance of your best players.
Error #1: Thinking that setting goals is enough
Setting sales goals does not ensure that your sellers adopt good behaviours when it comes to their sales activities.
Indeed, the goals, which are more often of a very formal nature, are not concretely related to attitudes (the how), but rather to the what, the when, the how much and the why. It is false to think that people will self-adopt the behaviours required to achieve these goals.
A second problem with sales goals is that they are usually communicated at the beginning of the year and then neglected afterwards. In an ideal world, they should be recalled weekly during a funnel review to ensure that the sales representative has enough opportunities in the pipeline and does enough profitable sales activities to achieve the goals initially set.
Profitable sales activities refer to any activity that predictably increases the probability of generating sales and therefore revenue. The best example is a first base meeting.
Error #2: Being reactive rather than proactive
It is not uncommon to find that managers prefer to wait and measure sales results rather than constantly monitor the activities of their sales team.
When you do not evaluate the activities of each sales person by following leading indicators at regular intervals, you risk missing the red flags that alert you of the risk of missing targets.
It is usually this lack of visibility on leading indicators that leads sales managers to react to the situation. In reaction mode, the sales teams start burning gas to quickly compensate for the lack of activity in the previous months, and at the same time put the next quarter at risk. It is the spiral of reactivity.
The key to regaining control and being in a proactive mode is really to track the leading indicators consistently, that is, on a weekly basis. As soon as a negative deviation is found, the sales manager can immediately coach his team so that the right actions are taken. This allows to quickly get back on track and stay in control.
Error #3: Managing the wrong way
The reluctance to monitor activities can be explained by a misperception on the part of sales managers, who are avoiding micromanagement.
While the practice of a close management of activities is beneficial to salespeople's productivity, some managers perceive it as a stricter way of supervising their sales team. Yet, it is the only effective way they can ensure that their salespeople put their efforts in the right place.
Ironically, some sales managers do the opposite. For example, they go so far as to require their salespeople to install a device in their cars that is used to track their movements with precision. Yet, other than knowing how much time they spent at a client's office or at which convenience store they stopped, this device and any similar means do not help in any way to detect and manage deficient behaviour.
Here is, as an example, a list of behaviours to be corrected:
- Poor time management
- Demonstrating a lack of work ethic
- Not being punctual
- Failing to update the CRM
- Allowing too much time to the wrong clients/prospects
- Not having any discipline in prospecting
If these behaviours are not addressed, they will likely worsen over time and create an over complacent work environment. A representative to whom you give the freedom not to do his job properly will always allow himself more. Even worse, individuals who exhibit bad behaviours can contaminate the entire team. This will cause the decline in your overall performance and make it difficult for you to achieve the objectives.
You are responsible for holding each actor in your sales organization accountable, but also for finding the right balance between guidance and excessive control.
How to eliminate poor behaviours
This will allow you to highlight important points to be corrected. Be sure to make specific and reasonable recommendations to help the rep achieve the desired objectives and include in your evaluation grid the competencies that are directly related to the attitudes to be adopted.
2. Then, set a good example for your representatives.
You cannot expect to work in a motivated and disciplined sales team if you accept deficient behaviour or excuses from yourself. As a manager, your words and actions should serve as a reference point.
3. Spend as much time as necessary oncoaching.
Moreover, coaching is an activity that should be carried out on an ongoing basis. Good coaching should empower each representative to be able to face future obstacles and help them learn lessons that will help them progress in their career path.
4. Finally, remember to value and celebrate positive behaviours.
It is important that you highlight what you are expecting by promoting the successes of your team members. This will encourage them to stay motivated and encourage others to follow the same path.
It doesn't always seem easy to maintain discipline in your team. Your salespeople, due to a lack of imputability, may develop deficient behaviours that will consume time that you could have spent growing your people.
Be sure to link to your objectives the right attitudes to achieve them. Also, keep constant track of your representatives' activities to help them find their way and then adapt your management so that you can manage behaviours and be able to eliminate those that are harmful.