The most important job of managers is to coach, develop, and maximize the talents of their direct reports—sales managers developing salespeople and general managers developing sales managers. When people are maximizing the talents they have, sales and productivity will follow.
Here are my top 6 recommendations to improve sales culture and make sure management is getting the most from the talents of the team.
1. Have regular one-on-one conversations that focus on HOW sales are going to be made, not simply “how much are you bringing in this week?”.
Brainstorm ideas to develop money, talk about ways to increase the dollar spend, focus on targets and keys only, make sure they are on track with their target account development and key account growth. Make your conversations positive and uplifting and not “beat down sessions”.
2. Have consistent in field days that are never compromised or changed.
Ensure your field days are always with decision influencers and decision makers for key and target accounts only.
3. In sales meetings, go to great lengths to ensure they are positive and uplifting.
If a sales meeting doesn’t educate or motivate, DON’T do them.
4. Set and determine a strategic plan and do not deviate from it.
Yes strategic plans should always be tweaked and adjusted as they go, but when you have a strategic plan and you don’t stay on course, people get frustrated and frankly question if management knows what they are doing when there are constant changes and deviations from the plan. You can’t talk about targets and keys and client needs constantly then throw a package at the sales staff that creates a lot of secondaries. That sends mixed messages to the staff. I’m not naïve enough to know that packages aren’t a reality in sales, but they should be done rarely and for a special purpose and reason. And they should be accompanied by an explanation from management as to why you are veering away from your basic strategy.
5. Set clear expectations and hold people accountable for them.
People don’t mind being held accountable as long as they know what they are being held accountable for. But if the expectations that are set resemble a moving target, you can’t hold people accountable and they are confused as to what it is you really want from them.
6. Let talented people do their jobs.
If you have talented and competent sellers and managers, they don’t need to be told to be out of the office at a certain time and back at a certain time. They don't need to be told what to do each minute of the day. They don’t need to be micro-managed. If you don’t have talented people that you can entrust to do their job, well…. I completely understand when things aren’t going well there is a tendency to want to micro-manage and turn up the pressure. However remember that negative management styles NEVER work. Yes, a laid back manager can get someone’s attention on occasion by “going off”. But if you or your managers constantly use negative reinforcement, eventually no one pays any attention to you. It’s like the little boy who cries wolf. Sooner or later it goes in one ear and out the other.
If you do the things discussed above, you will get more out of your people and you'll build a stronger culture at the same time.