If your company has an entrenched sales force with an average tenure of 3 to 5 years, now is a great time for you to perform a team benchmark assessment of your team using new tools that are available online and which can be easily deployed to perform an objective evaluation of each of your sales team member’s individual selling skills as well as an overall team performance assessment. These tools are readily available and easy to access, even if you don’t want to deploy a sales consultant to do the work.
One tool that we use, represent, and work with is the team benchmarking evaluation tool from Objective Management. The objective management sales team benchmarking process is an easy one to perform and one that any sales manager can use to come up with actionable information that can be turned into making decisions on performance management, termination, and/or team upgrading. It’s very easy to use these tools and it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort.
The output of a team benchmarking evaluation is an individual report that you can use with each of your sales team members so that you can have a clear discussion to figure out what they can do to improve their overall productivity and enhance their value to your company. If you are thinking about 2007 and how to get more revenue from your existing sales team, use this kind of tool to make such an assessment. They’re easy to access, easy to set up, and easy to interpret.
The next step is establishing a sales forecasting process. If you’re like most sales managers, one of your jobs is to regularly scrutinize the sales forecast and look into the pipeline to see what’s dead and what’s actually moving forward. The job of your sales people is to advance the sale as much as possible but also to be clear when an opportunity is dead in the water and not moving. Your job as a sales manager is to scrutinize those entries that look like they’ve been languishing for a long time in your forecast and get them to either move forward or to move them out of the forecast and kill those opportunities that are dead.
To often we find sales managers who are taking at face value what their sales people are saying about a given opportunity. Indeed, I have a situation right now where one of my sales people is actually continuously updating old pipeline entries which are really dead opportunities. She is in the process of wishing and hoping they’ll turn into a sale, but the fact is that she is really in denial that they will close. My job as a sale manager is to call those entries to her attention and make sure that she comes to clarity about the fact that those opportunities are no longer worth keeping in the sales pipeline.
If you have a modern CRM system, it’s easy to manage the sales pipeline, scrutinize the activity, and talk through those issues with your sales people. If you are using salesforce.com you probably have a dashboard that allows you to quickly look at activity related to specific pipeline entries and to call your sales people’s bluff when those sales entries are not advancing. The best way to get your sales people back on the track to prospecting, qualifying, and closing new business, is to make sure that their sales forecast isn’t filled with opportunities that are in fact dead. The faster that you can get a sales person to clarity about what’s not going to happen, then faster that you can get them working on new opportunities and creating new opportunities that will actually turn into sales.
A lot of sales people like to keep old pipeline entries active thinking that they’ll eventually turn into sales when in fact they’re not going to. So make sure that on a regular basis you are reviewing your old CRM entries and opportunities and killing the ones that are not going to happen. It’ll save you a lot of time and energy talking through the same old deals over and over with your sales representatives so that you can get on to the subject of finding out what they’re doing to create new ones. That’s the role of the sales manager.