If you’re in sales management and every year-end you look at the next year’s sales targets and your heart sinks, you’re not alone.
The sales team leaders of Australia’s 50 biggest companies are struggling to meet their annual targets. And it’s hardly surprising. The current battle to win the experience economy means it is much more competitive than it used to be and business leaders are expecting more of their sales teams as a result.
You’re juggling a thousand things at once: your team’s results; relationships with your clients; communicating to senior management details of improvements, results and market challenges.
There’s no doubt about it, your job is a tough one.
You can’t do it alone. Your team is your resource. Young and mature sales reps can contribute unique experience and perspectives, and it’s highly advantageous to draw on that variety and leverage people’s different skills. The ability to do this will be sales leadership 101 by 2020 and it could very well be key to your success.
So in today’s article, we’re going to cover some tips for managing diverse sales teams in order to smash your results.
Sales management 101: 5 tips for getting the most out of your team
1. Discover what skills exist within the team
The first rule of sales management is understanding the skills base in your team. What career history, qualifications and experience are in there? How can you harness these to ensure that each member of the team is a true asset?
By learning what skills you have at your disposal, you can also identify any skills gaps that need rectifying. After all, how can you be expected to reach your goals unless your team is appropriately equipped?
2. Get to know each individual’s strengths and weaknesses
Sales management isn’t just about focusing on your team’s results. It’s also about knowing their individual strengths and weaknesses and using that knowledge to your advantage.
Who is more strategic or technical? Who has the most product knowledge? Who has a great rapport with which customers?
Getting to know who your team members are as people is an important part of mentor leadership and a way to generate trust. Plus, it may allow you to discover a hidden talent, aptitude or interest a team member has that will resonate with a buyer or that can be applied to a new area of work.
3. Understand the language and culture of each member
I remember when I realised I was getting “old”. It was in a discussion with two younger members of my team. One of them used the adjectival phrase, “on fleek”. I assumed they’d said “on peak”, which confused me even more. I had to seek clarification. Much to my chagrin, it was explained to me that this meant, “flawlessly styled” or “groomed”. There it was; completely new language to me that was regularly spoken and understood by other members of my team.
Sales management isn’t just about understanding the language your team members are using. It’s also getting an appreciation for each individual’s culture and demographics. When managing diverse teams of people, this is essential to getting everyone working together as a unit.
4. Use effective communication to inspire collaboration
Of course, no sales management tips list would be complete without mentioning effective communication.
Good communication skills enable you as a sales team leader to motivate and inspire team collaboration. When you create an atmosphere of collaboration, you support skills-sharing and cross-learning. Upskilling your team will improve their morale and help you to achieve greater results.
We share plenty of communication tips on our blog, so take half an hour out of your day to absorb as much as you can. You’ll thank yourself later.
5. Encourage professional development
Learning and development is often the first thing to be forgotten when the pressure is on and targets are high. But training is critical to staying ahead of the game.
Sales isn’t what it used to be. Today’s customers expect a consultative approach. We’ve written about the importance of consultative sales before, but don’t just take our word for it…
Mike Weinberg, author of Sales Management. Simplified says, “When salespeople lead with their product or service, it is impossible to be perceived as consultants or trusted advisors. It makes it as clear as day that the salesperson believes the relationship and sale are centred on his offering, not the customer and their needs.”
Your sales team needs to stay up-to-date with developments in the market and strive to be better sales professionals. For that, they need time for professional development.
If you’ve made it this far, perhaps you agree that communication training is one of the most valuable things you can give your team. So sign them up to our corporate communication training program. We can tailor it to your specific organisation’s and/or team’s needs and deliver it in-house. So what are you waiting for?
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.
Erica Bagshaw is an entrepreneur, Executive Coach and Co-Founder of The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. She has spent the majority of her career growing and developing close client partnerships. She loves sharing her expertise on the perfect pitch.