How do you boost sales team morale in just 3-weeks?
Recently a Sales VP who had just attended one of my Sales Coaching & Leadership Workshops asked me that very question. He was under a lot of pressure from his CEO to improve sales team health and increase sales, so he needed some concrete steps he could implement immediately. Here’s what he and I came up with for his 3-week plan.
Week 1: Update Roles & Responsibilities
The company this VP worked for had undergone some major shifts in recent years. Their market was expanding, partly through increased specialization of offerings. The VP now realized that the job descriptions for the sales rep position were out of date and didn’t accurately reflect the changes in the business and markets that had occurred.
“I guess its unfair to ding sales reps when we as a company haven’t clearly defined their jobs,” the VP told me. “We need to have much more specialized job descriptions to eliminate ambiguity.” So that become the VP’s task #1.
He and I started by reviewing the current job descriptions for the sales position with his sales managers. The sales managers’ next step would be to meet with peak performing reps who were successful at selling the new specialized products and ask about the skills, knowledge and competencies they applied to excel that were not in the current job description. He and his managers then assembled their findings, put them in writing, and then began communicating findings regularly to the sales team.
Week 2: Set Standards for Attitude Excellence
High expectations are the key to everything. To drive better performance, ask yourself, “What are the qualities and characteristics of my #1 salesperson?” Chances are you’ll identify several characteristics such as competitive, great work ethic, accepts responsibility for solving customer problems, team player, etc. And what do all these have in common? They’re not skills, they’re attitudes.
What is currently in your company’s job description for the sales rep position: are they skills or attitudes? Answer: they’re skills. The implication is that you haven’t yet defined what distinguishes your top salespeople from everybody else. And if you haven’t defined it, then your salespeople surely don’t know it. How can we expect enthusiastic morale on our sales team if we don’t first define what it is – and then describe in specific terms for salespeople how they can adopt a more positive disposition.
When you define your standards for attitude excellence, and you communicate those as expectations on a regular basis, you encourage all of your salespeople to emulate these qualities on a daily basis. And then…..your team’s morale improves.
Week 3: Improve Sales Forecasting by Creating Sales Process Milestones
Like many sales leaders, this VP also complained about his team’s inability to accurately predict monthly or quarterly sales. The sales “roller coaster” created a lot of stress for everybody, and that’s not good for morale. So he and I identified a key flaw in his company’s system that added more stress for everybody: they made predictions based only on sales rep activities, not on customer activities. As I discussed in a recent blog post, accuracy in sales forecasting requires that you align your sales process with your customer’s buying process.
So my client’s third task was to work with sales managers and reps to develop clear descriptions of what his company’s customers do as they move through their buying process. “I want to have these milestones spelled out so my salespeople are more focused on achieving customer actions and me managers can be more effective in coaching their reps,” the VP said. “I want my managers to be able to discuss what steps each prospect either has, or hasn’t taken. Then managers can talk with the rep very specifically about what reps need to do to prepare themselves to advance the client through the next milestone.”
Together, these three steps provide a pretty good starting point for anyone who wants to improve sales team morale.