2020 has been a strange year for everyone. Successful teams who are used to winning find themselves struggling. And managers, who are used to leading successful teams, are trying to coach and help reps who aren’t used to struggling.
If this sounds like a situation you’re experiencing, how can you identify where your team needs help and get them back on track?
Focus on Talents and Short-Term Goals
Begin with an in-depth look at each member of your team. Using their talent assessment as a guide, ask the following questions about each person:
- What are their natural strengths and talents?
- Where do they naturally shine?
Take a look at their individual weaknesses:
- What are they (and you) trying to work around to make them successful?
Now, take a more global view:
- What talents are especially strong for the team as a whole?
- What are weaknesses that I see on my team?
Look at your team’s composite talents and think about how you can encourage and get the most of these talents while shoring up areas where your team is soft. Once you have these answers in mind, ask yourself another question:
- What does success look like for each rep right now during COVID?
This may seem like a simple question. But for many reps, it has not been defined for them by their leaders, and they’re left struggling to define it for themselves.
The one word to sum-up 2020 is uncertainty. How are our clients, our businesses, and our markets going to change this week, next week, and next month?
The honest answer is that we don’t know, and often we can’t even make an educated guess. Reps tend to look to their manager for answers. And while no one can predict what will happen days or weeks from now, we can define what success looks like right now for our reps. And that is what many reps need.
The sense of control given by knowing what goal they’re trying to hit right now. Once you have defined that short-term success, build a plan individualized to that rep to help them reach that goal. Large goals can seem overwhelming, so define the short-term milestones that need to be hit to achieve that large goal.
Clarifying Your Message to Prospects and Clients
Once your team is clear on their objectives, and each person has a specific plan on how to achieve them, ask yourself about the message to your prospects and clients. If you were to ask each of your sellers the questions below, would they answer the same way?
- What problems does our business unit solve for clients?
- How do we solve those problems?
- Why should the client choose our products?
- What do we do better than anyone else in our market?
Each seller on your team should be able to answer these questions, and they should all answer in a similar way. If you’re not hearing consistency in those answers, you can be sure that clients and prospects are also hearing different messages and getting confused.
How likely are they to choose you when they don’t clearly understand your message?
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Streamline the Sales Process
Consumer needs and the way we do business is changing at lightning speed. In January of 2020, who could have predicted how important “touchless” delivery of goods and services would become?
Now, the companies that are thriving have mastered this system, while the strugglers are still doing things “the 2019 way”. What about our sales process? Do we still use a long, drawn-out process, or can we deliver results quickly and efficiently?
Take a few minutes and evaluate your teams sales process:
- How long does our sales cycle typically last and is that practical for our current prospects?
- Do we provide our reps with a checklist to make sure no steps are missed?
- Are our processes, deadlines, and expectations made clear to the clients?
- How can we set up our initial sales to lead naturally to the next stage?
If your team constantly struggles to hit monthly and quarterly numbers, the problem may lie with poor sales planning.
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If the last few days of each month and each quarter are filled with massive stress as each person desperately makes a last-minute push to make those numbers, then spend some time reviewing your system for sales planning. Ask yourself:
- How well are reps doing building a pipeline and keeping it filled?
- How accurate is our forecasting as a team and as individuals?
- Are we missing opportunities within the sales process to add revenue and value for our clients?
Being able to forecast, with reasonable accuracy, how a month, quarter and year will look allows your reps to schedule their time more wisely and allows sales managers more control over the process, creating less stress for everyone.
Every individual, as well as every team, has times when they struggle to hit goals and function as a cohesive team. If your team has found 2020 to be a challenge, take time to pinpoint the areas where they struggle the most, and take action. Look for ways to work with the talents you see on your team, streamline processes, and give your reps the tools they need to be successful.