We’re so proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month once again.
For each week in October, we have an amazing slate of women sales leaders who will be sharing their unique insights. Today, our guest is Laura Coristine, General Sales Manager at Cox Media
Laura makes so many awesome points. Such as:
- Why, instead of asking for feedback, you should ask for “feedforward."
- How emotional intelligence really can boost the overall morale of your sales teams.
- And, finally, why, if you’ve got a happy, engaged team of people, success is only a matter of time.
Essential Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Keep Your Eye On
Matt kicks off the conversation by asking, “What are the three to five key performance indicators that you always look at to know that things are on track?”
- Revenue and Sales Targets: “Obviously, number one is revenue and sales targets,” Laura says. “Are we generating enough revenue to make our goals?
- Conversion Rates: “Those are really big for us. Is the sales team making the calls that they need to make in order to generate those sales? So, we normally have about a 20% closing ratio. We really keep track of what that activity looks like for the Media Consultants.
- Pitch and Close: “And then it really gets down to pitch and close. What is that number that we, as a team, have to pitch every week in order to make our goals? And then break it down to our MCs, our media consultants. What is it that they need to pitch? And again, we look at a 20% rate closing ratio. So, is there enough revenue in the funnel to make sure that they can meet their goals?
- Customers: “And then we look at our customers. You know, new business, growth on existing...what is the value for us for a lifetime client? Because we all know it's easier to keep a client than to gain a client, right?”
“So those are really the things that I look at.”
Ask for “Feedforward”
When asked where sales managers should be spending most of their time, Laura offers that, aside from revenue, managers should ensure they are hiring the right people and further developing the salespeople on their team.
“We focus on recruiting top talent,” Laura says. “When someone leaves, we always try to hire better because we've learned, right?
“Then, it's working with that team, always providing the training, the coaching.
“And a new word for us is ‘feedforward.’
“So, Mike Brostek, my VP, was in Arizona last week, and he's like, ‘I'm no longer asking for feedback; I'm asking for feedforward.’ Because, again, if you can develop that entire team, that team will make you successful in the long run.
“And then there's always the training, the processes, your customer relationships, goal setting, all of those fundamentals.
“But really, it comes down to having the right team and really being open and transparent with that team.”
Adaptation to Changing Sales Landscape
As Matt, Stephanie, and Laura discuss how radically the sales landscape has changed over the past 3-5 years, the conversation, naturally, turns toward the power (and limitations) of various AI tools.
Matt recounts a story about the favorite swim coach of an acquaintance’s daughter. “She asked her daughter what made him so good. Her daughter thought about it for a second, and then she said, ‘he gets in the water.’
“She goes on to say that there's no room anymore for managers who stand next to the pool and bark out orders. After a while, all the swimmers just go through the motions and start to wonder if the leader even knows how to swim, as I told our leadership team. We need to make sure we're looking for opportunities to get in the water. And that's your point.”
Laura agrees, saying, “We have so many different chatbots now. You have AI going on. Now, those products are going to take away some of the stuff that the salespeople back in the 90s used to do. I like that!
“But, they don’t ‘get in the water.’
A good manager has to be willing to do that. You’ve got to walk the talk.”
Future of Sales Management
When it comes to looking into the future of sales management, Laura says to anticipate a shift from traditional managerial roles to more involved coaching and mentorship positions.
“We've got technology that can pull those reports right, so you don't need the sales manager doing that. They can actually get out there.
“And again, if you've got a team that's happy and they're motivated, and they're engaged, you know what? You're going to be successful. The numbers will come, and the activity is going to come.
“A million years ago, I was with my second sales manager. I would do anything for him. And I remember him joking and saying, ‘go stand on your head in the corner.’
“And I'm like, ‘OK!’
“He responded, ‘Really?’
“I said, ‘Yes! I believe in you!’
“I know it's kind of a funny story, but that's what you want. You want to be that leader that people are going to follow, and that comes from within.”