Want to maximise your sales team’s productivity without sacrificing morale? It’s easy to get into bad habits. Make sure you avoid these 5 big mistakes.
Sales is a very particular discipline, and it can be very easy to take a wrong turn. Here we discuss 5 of the most common mistakes that sales managers and directors make with their teams, how you can avoid them and keep your sales department happy and productive.
Mistake No. 1: Not working with your team to produce packages, cross-sells and up-sells.
Reporting and trends are undeniably important in business, but sometimes they only give part of a picture. A good sales team should be able to point out any complementing products or services before the reports hit your desk. Your sales team are the ones who spend most of their time on the front line with customers, so listen to them and work together to create a cohesive and defined set of packages, cross-sells and up-sells.
Granted, packages and grouped services are not possible for all industries, but a frank chat with your sales team may shed light on some surprising trends. Are certain products or services that appear unconnected at first being used in conjunction in a clever way by clients? Do certain customers buy a given product after having purchased another specific product? Is there a way that a product or service of yours is doing double duty for a client? This insight may help your sales team to focus on some of these alternate uses, as well as giving marketing a heads up with some fresh ideas.
Mistake No. 2: Too much of a focus on pre-sales or after-sales.
All parts of a sales process should be handled with equal importance. If a customer is eagerly hand-held throughout the pre-sales process up until the actual sale, only to find themselves relatively on their own if they have an after-sales problem, they are going to feel understandably let down – cheated even. However, lacklustre pre-sales persuades fewer people to purchase in the first place.
It’s imperative to find a happy medium between pre- and after-sales processes that works well with your company’s ethos and the the chemistry within your team. Some teams work well with set pre-sales people and after-sales people, some prefer everyone being able to handle both. Whichever you opt for, make sure that every team member knows where they are on this scale, and that everyone is appropriately trained.
Mistake No. 3: Providing unclear objectives.
Have you ever seen a sales team whose only goal seems to be “just sell, I guess…?” It’s not pretty. This usually comes about in one of two ways; either management is looking at the wrong reports or possibly misreading the right report; or those in charge have simply lost their spark and are doing the bare minimum to keep sales afloat. Episodes of apathy come to us all in many areas of our lives, but when indifference lingers too long in business, failure is sure to follow. This apathy can spread to the team, making them unhappy and unmotivated. If they lose their spark, this can spell financial failure for the company.
If you find yourself in this situation, work with your team to find the parts of their jobs that bring them joy, and steer each individual towards that. Managers need to take more of an interest in reporting and performance indicators, and try to pinpoint the little everyday things that move the needle in the right direction. Remember to keep a holistic approach towards the entire business and the overall goals and happiness of the entire company, lest you fall into the trap of…
Mistake No. 4: Analysis paralysis and micromanagement.
All business owners are focused on the bottom line, it’s just common sense to be aware of the financial comings and goings of your business. However, many managers rely so strongly on metrics and figures that the focus becomes less about seeking proactive ways to work with the strengths of the team or of the company as a whole, and more about achieving a certain metric in the short term. This is where an overall picture of the whole company is required. The over-reliant approach to being aware of every single metric and obsessing over every tiny result can lead to the dreaded micromanagement. This is where managers obsess over every small detail of their employees’ work and usually involves asking questions that cause morale to plummet. Questions like: how many sales are we making every day? Every hour? How can we double that? Though encouragement is necessary, this is most definitely the worst way of going about it. This kind of thinking only serves to cause your team to be constantly looking over their shoulder, paranoid about their peers and insecure in their own abilities. A happy team is a successful team, and sales can be very stressful, so seek a balanced approach between the facts and figures and the human side that encourages and builds on individual strengths.
Mistake No. 5: Cross-promotion of non-sales people into sales teams.
Sales is a very specific discipline. It’s one of these skills that simply not everyone is born with a flair for. So why do managers employ or cross-promote people into sales when they have no experience or demonstrable skill at it? This doesn’t just happen to sales departments, but it is arguably the most noticeable place where square pegs get attributed to round holes. This “needing a body to fill a space” thinking not only affects a company’s bottom line, but can also have far-reaching implications for the mis-placed person’s career. So before you go robbing another team of a valuable member or plucking an incompatible person from the unemployment line, is there a way that your team can adhere to the age old saying “work smarter, not harder?” Do what you can to eliminate all busy work from their routine and see if you still need that extra person. And if you do, make sure their skills are completely appropriate.
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