5 Ways to Improve Your Salespeople's Success
Create a sales-performance environment that will brighten the economic forecast.
During this time of market volatility, listen to top retailers and integrators ponder their next steps: "What should I do?" "How should I react?" "What should I focus on?"
The history of our industry has proven time and time again that, when times are good, business is good and, when times are tough, business is still good.
CE has not ridden the same feast-or-famine rollercoaster that carries other consumer industries; our peaks and valleys are far less dramatic.
Furthermore, while all economic indicators point to consumers constricting their discretionary budget, it's probably a safe bet that CE products will be, as history has shown, the vehicle that helps them forget their troubles, enabling them to spend more time at home escaping the realities of an uncertain world.
Your challenge, as the hybrid retailer, is to be the provider consumers can rely upon and trust. Consumers need to feel confident in your company's recommended solutions.
That means being a leader, coaching and mentoring your company's employees so that consumer confidence isn't shaky on any level.
Just as a coach needs to optimize a professional athlete's performance (even Tiger Woods has a coach), your people need to be observed, coached and mentored on a consistent, ongoing basis.
The following tips will help your company plan for the sales coaching necessary in a successful operation.
Be a Role Model
Lead by example. Take the lead in demonstrating what it takes to deliver a high level of professionalism, reliability and satisfaction in every customer contact.
Authentic leaders understand that leading is about serving others and bringing people them together around a common cause.
So, model the expected behavior and coach each employee individually about bringing their behavior in line with your expectations.
Move Beyond Command and Control
Have you watched the movie, "Glengarry Glen Ross" recently? "Go sell" just doesn't cut it anymore. The old school style of management is so, well, old school.
According to a recent survey by staffing company Randstad, nearly half of all workers report a lack of respect for their bosses. Moreover, more than half report their bosses are downright incompetent.
Plus, fewer than 30 percent of surveyed workers felt their bosses were properly motivating them to do a good job, acting as role models or engaging in mentoring.
New generations of workers expect their bosses to respect their input and their need for work-life balance. They also want their employer to act socially responsible in the marketplace.
So, let go of that old "command & control" model. Real power is realized by giving it away — that is, empowering your people to execute and innovate with authentically delivered support and direction.
Real authority provides real opportunities for professional growth.
Hire the Right People
According to Jim Collins, author of "Built to Last," the old adage "People are your most important asset" is wrong. He clarifies, "The right people are your most important asset."
In sales, behavior trumps experience every time. Hiring based on a job history isn't a sure thing. Industry positions that bring product and technical familiarity also usually bring the bad habits of their previous workplaces.
As humans, we're creatures of habit, and ingrained habits are difficult to break.
Intermediate selling skills, such as interpreting and probing, and advanced skills, like integrating concepts and consulting, are best learned and embodied by people whose daily behaviors are in line with your company's proven sales approach.
Manage Processes, Mentor People
Managing is the methodical application of processes in an effort to achieve performance.
On the other hand, a mentor is a person who has a sincere desire to enhance the success of others. A mentor facilitates personal and professional growth by sharing the knowledge and insights learned through the years.
Mentoring is a relationship established to grow an employee over time. Coaching is all about guidance and inspiration.
It's about guiding your people through the application of knowledge and structure, inspiring confidence. The most successful coaches set a vision for their team's achievement, and they motivate them to work hard to realize that vision.
Clearly Define Expectations
The key to empowering your sales staff is providing well-defined and articulated job descriptions, roles, responsibilities and competencies.
Doing so creates a road map for employees to travel as the move toward your company's strategic vision.
No level of coaching and mentoring can overcome the unintended implications of a poorly designed compensation program. Your compensation program must also be fully vetted.
It must be made with regard to the behaviors that will occur and the performance measuring techniques put into place.
Individual and team incentives must be woven into a system that motivates good judgment in making effective decisions.
When you began your business, you brought a clear vision. You spent most of your time on the frontlines with your people and customers, using your instincts to make the decisions that shaped your growth. Well, it's now time to lead that way again.
Leadership is a muscle that needs to be exercised. And like exercise, the sooner you begin to coach and mentor your people toward a culture of success, the sooner you will build your leadership muscle and sales.
Bill Johannesen is the managing director of Vision Werks Consulting LLC. He can be reached via www.VisionWerks.com.