Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially salespeople. Savvy managers understand that sometimes it’s far more effective to let salespeople figure out for themselves what they are capable of achieving.
Salespeople invariably will come up with a more aggressive sales goal when left to their own devices than if their managers set an arbitrary target for them. Why? Because if salespeople feel like they helped shape the overall plan, they have a personal stake in the outcome.
By including salespeople in the process, you give them added motivation to succeed. But without this motivation, salespeople might figure out the best excuses in the world why they can’t achieve.
Here are four tips for managing your salespeople more effectively and getting them to deliver the results you want.
Hold salespeople accountable for what they say. This doesn’t mean cracking the whip. Instead, ask them what they need to achieve their goals and how you can help. For starters, help them create a strategy. Prod them about how they plan to accomplish their goals, and make them respond with detailed answers. Next, have them commit to their answers in writing.
If a few months down the road they aren’t living up to their goals, don’t get angry. Simply ask them if they did what they said they were going to do. Ask them what they learned and what they would do differently next time. Chances are, your salespeople will see success sooner rather than later.
Motivate your people to achieve. Once people set their goals and understand what they’re supposed to do, it’s up to you to make sure they execute. Try keeping up-to-date notes on every person you manage, including their daily activities and their progress and setbacks. Schedule meetings with individuals to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and how their goals, both short-term and long-term, are shaping up. Dig a little deeper by asking them who they’re meeting with this week and what they expect to accomplish. Follow up after the fact by asking how those meetings went. This will help you identify obstacles and nip potential problems in the bud. You’ll soon find that the salesperson’s goals and results become one and the same.
Review goals on a weekly and monthly basis. There has to be a continual dialogue between you and your salespeople. It’s crucial for you and your salespeople to establish a set of daily, weekly, and monthly benchmarks that help them measure and manage their ultimate goals. For instance, if one of your salespeople has a target of $1 million, don’t ask him or her to focus on the actual dollars but the activities that will help reach that mark. It’s important to identify and measure several key success indicators, such as the number of follow-up appointments in a week, the number of networking events they’ve attended, or the number of contracts they’ve renewed. By breaking goals down into smaller, easier-to-digest targets, salespeople can start seeing the impact immediately.
Celebrate success. It’s critical for sales managers to celebrate success and publicly acknowledge outstanding performers who meet and exceed their goals. Salespeople are human. They respond tremendously to positive reinforcement. Besides money, try rewarding top performers with perks that publically recognize their accomplishments, such as an article in the companywide newsletter. You can never praise salespeople enough. It’s not just money that motivates them but recognition that they’re contributing to the success of the business.