During a coaching call with a CEO yesterday, I was asked for my thoughts on some of the best ways to get sales reps to perform. We discussed the elements of effective sales management from strategy, goal setting, communication, coaching and training. Amongst these tactics, holding reps accountable is arguably the most powerful tool for getting reps to perform.
Accountability – the key to success in managing sales reps
In my experience as a sales manager, successfully holding sales reps accountable involves five things:
1. Clearly Defining Goals – The first rule of goal achievement is having some in the first place. At the beginning of each reporting period, be sure to document and communicate the goals that the rep must achieve. Include revenues, sales wins, activities and whatever expectations the rep must meet, but keep it simple so that there is never any confusion about goals or conflicting priorities that might prevent the rep from staying focussed.
2. Regular Feedback and Communication – Few reps manage themselves. They need regular guidance and direction to be effective so make sure you are speaking at least once a week. I liked to meet with my reps every Monday am to go through forecast, discuss activities, set goals for the week, and address any team issues and then have ad-hoc meetings in between to discuss account plans, address challenges and to provide coaching. Some reps need more communication and some less – you will know the balance – but most need plenty and there is no such thing as over-communicating.
3. Measurement – Sales reps are metrics driven and excited by numbers (at least the the good ones are), so don’t make them guess where they are at vs their numbers. Make sure stats are easily accessible via some sort of dashboard and if the team works out of the same office, a scoreboard with live data can be very powerful. Tap into the competitive nature of reps and create good energy on your team by showing the numbers for each and every rep side by side. Reps will naturally work harder to be at the top of the leader board.
4. Consequences – Many companies are afraid to let go of a poor performing rep, either because there is no replacement for them or the company feels they have made too big an investment in the rep to part ways , but this breeds complacency. There needs to be a sense that achieving the sales goal is not optional. This doesn’t mean that you terminate someone that doesn’t hit their targets once, but it does mean that you might have to accept a loss and part ways if someone is perennially under-performing and you have tried to work with them on developing skills and the right behaviours.
5. Fun – Hitting big sales numbers is tough work so in between all the hard work and grinding to achieve targets, take every opportunity to laugh and have fun. This will keep energy and morale high and make your team a great place to be.
To your success!
Image courtesy of basketman | freedigitalphotos.net
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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