Coaching the Way to Peak Sales Performance

Sales people often take the course of least resistance.

In most companies, the “80-20 rule” applies: 80% of the sales are produced by 20% of the sales force. Regardless of the companies you look at, chances are the average sales force is weak. Most sales trainers agree that 80% of salespeople are average or below average. The key is motivating salespeople to do what they are supposed to do, create a desire, and get them to work at peak performance.

If there was one true way to manage and motivate salespeople, there would be one book or one system. But there isn’t, so we must look at a combination of many approaches to sales-force management, and come up with a style that works best with the sales manager’s personality and beliefs.

First, you must set goals or parameters. A phrase I like to use is, “A goal without a plan is a wish.”

Next, look at a sales manager like a coach in a professional sport. The coach’s role is to find the best talent and, when he or she finds that talent, to get them to practice to be the best. After you put your team together, you have to manage it. The bottom line here is getting the salespeople to do what you want them to do. This is achieved through motivation, meetings and discipline. Discipline is most important. In my opinion, you should have weekly meetings with each member of your sales force to discuss what he or she has done in the past and what they are going to do during the following week.

Members of your sales force must consistently practice the following to be productive:

  1. They must be prospecting, or going out and looking for new business.
  2. When they have the prospects, they must know how to qualify them by asking questions and being an investigator. Their job is to find out what the customer wants or needs.
  3. Once they get a client, they must have great follow-up, making sure the customers are so happy, they will refer other clients to your company.

The biggest problem sales managers face in retaining good sales people is motivating them, and keeping them happy. People who make money and enjoy what they do are probably going to stay.

It is impossible to train desire or attitude, but if those things are part of salespeople’s make-up, then they will succeed in what they are doing.

There is much that the sales manager can do. First, the sales manager should sit down with the salespeople and their prospecting forms to make sure that the calls are being made.

Second, the sales manager should look at the salesperson’s customer profiles to make sure the right questions are being asked. In other words, to determine if they are qualifying the customers properly.

Third, the sales manager should look at the salesperson’s follow-up form to see if the customer has been called after the sale.

If the salespeople are doing these three things on a daily basis, if they have a good attitude and enjoy what they are doing, and if they have excellent product knowledge, you will have a stable sales force with very little turnover. The key is to manage the salespeople on a daily basis. Get in the field with your people and work with them. Think of it as a professional sport - be their coach, be their guide, be their mentor, be there for them.

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