Salespeople are often competitive, high-strung, egotistical, outspoken and arrogant. This short list of qualities just scratches the surface of many salespeople, which is why they can be notoriously difficult to manage. Control them too much and they’ll revolt; give them too much rope and they’ll exploit you. Mastering this art form really is a massive challenge and is regularly overlooked. I thought I would tackle it head-on and give you a few short tips that may just help in your situation.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
Setting the rules when you take on a new sales staff member is vital if you want to get the best out of them. Cover everything from company culture to dress code to personal grooming, timekeeping and your expectations for their performance, but also share with them the outcome of underperformance.
Your staff members are creatures of habit
Salespeople are creatures of habit. Show them what success looks like and they will follow it. However, remember that people do two things in business: what they enjoy doing and what gets checked on. As such, my advice is to keep the job fun. Creating a routine that generates activity but also creates a sense of team solidarity and puts a smile on their faces is essential for well-managed teams. If meeting weekly is important, consider timing and location wisely. Some of my most successful sales teams met every Friday at 3 pm in the pub for a review of the week and at 8 am every Tuesday for breakfast. Our results were double those of our competitors. Consider what you can do to improve your sales staff’s routine.
Give them a fine reputation to live up to
Salespeople are competitive, and although they might be employed by your business, they are typically managed by the most demanding boss in the world – themselves. This information is priceless when you’re motivating your team. Use questions as opposed to orders when asking more of them. Challenging them on the results of others, either past or present, can be very effective. Similarly, get them to set their own targets, but only when they’re in front of others. Use language like, “Rob has sold four this week… I thought that you were better than Rob,” and, “If we started a new salesperson next week, how many orders should they get in their first six weeks? So why have you only got…”
However, remember that although sales staff may seem thick-skinned, they are often emotional and nearly always fragile. As such, it’s essential that praise is loud, lavish and in public, yet any genuine criticism happens behind closed doors. Protect their ego; it’s valuable to you.
Manage results but measure activity
We’re all in business for results, yet often the results can be outside of our control. With this in mind, simply recording the results of your team’s efforts can be misleading. I would encourage you to measure not just the outcome from your team’s efforts, but also the input. This allows you to reward effort, manage complacency and idleness and most importantly, identify development opportunities.
If you start to apply these simple tips to your sales team, I’m certain you’ll see improved results.