A Diamond Sales Team
Many sales managers and organisations are inspired by this. They try and replicate this with their team.
They pile on pressure on the poor hydro-carbon – the frontline sales person.
The pressure on the human is beyond enormous. Most of it is internal.
“Fill in those excel sheets for another plan.” “How about the make up plan?” “I want a day wise commit for the next 18 days till the quarter end.” “I want you to do 30 units by the end of the day today – I don’t care how you do it.” “Call me every hour, by the hour and give me an update.” “Send me a daily tracker on commit vs. actual. And a make up plan to make it up all over.” And on and on.
Unrealistic goals. Constant transactional follow-up. Strong messages on ‘existence’. Incessant questions on competence. Death by Excel, PowerPoint. These are some of the techniques field sales managers use to try and produce ‘diamonds’.
In sales, diamonds are not created by constant pressure. They are created by detailed planning, coordination and continuous activities towards the goal.
Great sales managers have different methods. Their pressure is on actions and micro-results throughout the quarter. They keep fine tuning the operation all the time.
This is a positive feedback produces wonderful shining particles.
Here are the areas great sales managers focus upon.
1. Define a Sales Process
Here the sales manager and the team define a sales process together. They are constantly aware on the method to get to the business projections.
At a high level, they focus on things like: What is the ‘capacity’ of the market to deliver today (number of dealers, working capital of the distributor, delivery bandwidth of the distributor, coverage etc.?) How do we expand the capacity in a sustainable manner?
At a micro level, they focus on things like: What is the business capacity for a particular outlet? What are the leading indicators that determine the quarter’s business? How is the funnel creation trending? What is the conversion percentage? Is the sales person adequately trained?
2. Drive Purposeful Activity
What are the leading indicators for ultimate business success? Great sales managers analyze this in the start of the planning period and set up goals for the team as per the leading indicators. This can include:
Number of retail outlets to be expanded
Working capital and delivery capability of the distributors
Working capital of dealers – one way is to get their reimbursements on time
Activities to be done in the outlets to create walk-in, funnel
Focus on follow-up on sales in the market
Pro-active focus on merchandising and display
3. Leverage Analytics
Great sales managers are eager consumers of data. They are not just focused on high level numbers and mix percentages. They ask and answer questions like –
What is the walkin conversion rates – how is it trending across outlets
What is the ROI/ $ spent on promotions in these outlets
Is the merchandising in order? Is the sales person on message?
What is the funnel for the closure? How do we accelerate the funnel?
How do we best utilize the national promotions?
How do we best utilize local social campaigns for success?
They are focused on the metrics of every stage of the sales process and maximizing conversion at each stage. Not just on the output.
4. Promote Continuous Learning
Learning is the Oxygen for the team. That simple. Constant training is required to sustain great sales momentum. Great managers are focused on making sure that the teams are trained on the sales process, products, promotions, competition, campaigns with constant refreshers. In effect, this has to be a continuous process, run by the organization. The sales leaders are the custodians of the process.
5. Enable Automation
Great Sales Managers are aware, that business cannot be run by Instant Messaging groups, text messages, excel sheets and calls from the coordinator. It has to be run in auto-mode so that the sales person is focused on value added activities.
They border on fanaticism towards the adoption and usage of automated cloud based tools. They set up methods for training online. They set up tools for collecting daily business critical data. To forward leads and track them through the life cycle. For customer relationships.
They train the sales people on these tools and drive usage. They even review the sales person only based on these tools and the metrics it provides.
To an extent, they resist random activities. They do not constantly ask for team updates, make up plans, day wise commits etc. except those provided by the tools. This ensures that the maximum time is used in sales, rather than backend processes.
6. Focus on Onboarding
Great business managers realise that hiring is the just the first step towards business results. The frontline sales person needs to be trained and inducted.
The managers spend energy (using the organizational processes: Mobile training tools etc.) to proactively induct the sales person. They focus on :
Company introduction – how to position the company?
Sales process training
Sales person Roles and Responsibilities
Soft skills training
Best known methods for sales success.
This ensures quality interaction with the customer right from the word go and maximum bang for the investment made.
Diamonds are forever
The team will work as a cohesive group. They will know what is expected of them in every stage of the sales cycle. And perform like clock work. Individual members of the group will be sought after in the larger organization.
The team leader will be an inspirational figure for everyone in the company and will constantly move towards larger opportunities.