Leading sales teams has always been tough. Leading them now is even tougher—bad news. The good news is, when done correctly, you can lead your team through this and have them, and you come out stronger when it’s over. Here are three things to focus on as you lead your team through the new normal.
Your team needs a coach, and you need to get this one right! Every year is see lots of sales managers make the mistake of coaching to results instead of coaching to the sales process, meaning I hear sales leaders giving feedback like “I need you to make more calls” or “I need you to close better” or “I need you to step up your efforts.” What are they supposed to do with that information?
Coaching to a sales process requires three things: a valid sales process, ongoing observation, and feedback. I’ll assume you have a sales process in place and focus on observation and providing feedback. Observing how your sales team represents you in the marketplace isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. Sales Enablement tools that seamlessly integrate with your CRM are abundant and affordable. Many of them have AI components that allow for easy keyword search and transcription. As you engage in this virtual observation, you’ll likely see patterns emerge. Things you like, things that need some coaching, and yes, some things you don’t like. Here is a three-step process of providing critical feedback.
- Lead with critique and end with praise. Start with what needs fixing, and then tell them what they did well.
- Only give them one thing to work on. Even if you observed multiple areas that need improvement, the best bet is to give them one piece of coaching. I usually start the conversation like this: “I’ve reviewed several calls, and I made lots of notes. If I were to give you one piece of coaching, it would be…”
- Tell them what they did right. If you observed them doing something well, you need to let them know. You’ll want them to do it again! Make sure you praise meaningful specifics, and never praise mediocrity.
Measure What Matters
Key performance indicators (KPI’s) for sales are typically those activities that are most likely to lead to the next step in your sales cycle and, ultimately, a definite conclusion for the buyer and the seller. In other words, a closed deal. As there is no “one size fits all” sales process, the KPIs you should be measuring are going to depend on what you sell and how it is sold. Some examples include prospecting activity, calls made, demonstrations conducted, proposals delivered, pipeline or opportunity value, and closing ratios, to name a few. The point here is you should be focusing on and measuring the tangible things that lead to results, not just the results themselves.
Communication is Key
Your new circumstances are going to challenge and test your communication skills. Finding the right balance between too much and not enough is going to ebb and flow as things keep changing. Add to this; the ability to meet face to face is off the table for most of us. The messaging and the method for how you communicate information is vital. Personal, one on one conversations should be done over the phone not by text or email, general information can be done by email, and be careful about too many Zoom meetings, they can cause “Zoom Fatigue!”
For more information or a free consultation on your current process, send us an email with “Virtual Coach” in the subject line.