Q1: What Can Sales Management Do To Be More Effective?
Be a leader instead of a manager. Correct before you correct and focus on process over outcomes. We need to find ways to help each rep level up…don’t manage skill gaps, find the next level with each rep for the win. Skill gap focus is too negative. Nobody wants to hear what they suck at. Managers push the “more” button. Leaders push the “HOW” button. Most important leadership skill is to share how. Outcomes are driven by sales stages. Stages driven by activities. Activities driven by skills. Most leaders don’t know the skill to success structure or how to coach to it. Those that do…CRUSH.
Q2: What Are Some Of The Biggest Coaching Mistakes? And How Can We Prevent Them?
The How button comes from understanding the process. Can you “Model Awesomeness?” When a leader understands skill to success model, HOW process becomes simpler. Every rep wants to win…just show them how. #1 coaching mistake is taking over a deal and emasculating the rep. This is a crutch…not a coach. Doesn’t scale. #2 Mistake, no consistency. If you don’t have consistency or cadence, you don’t have coaching. Don’t start/stop! #3 mistake is confusing a pipeline review for a coaching conversation. Coaching needs to develop skills/activities. #4 Mistake: Dictating terms, not collaborating. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal. People on pedestals are easy targets. Mistake #5: Focusing on weaknesses of the past rather than the promise of the future. Be in the inspiration business.
Q3: What Type of Training Creates The Best Results?
Q3 is hard. Everyone learns in different ways. I like the SHOW/SHARE/SEE approach. Training should be about modeling what awesome looks like. Biggest training gap for sales is the difficulty in practicing. So I prefer action-oriented, hands on training vs theoretical stuff. Sales is an action, full contact sport.
Q4: What Quality Do Most Sales Professionals Lack That Prevents Success?
Biggest obstacle I’ve seen is the focus on outcomes. Too many managers focus on working harder instead of smarter. Process beats outcomes every time. Can’t force someone to buy. Process is predictive. Outcomes is looking backwards. If process is good, success is inevitable. If process is weak, success is unsustainable. Choose process and get #predictive!
Q5: What Performance-Based Metrics Generate The Best Results For Sales Teams?
Process tells you when to be patient and when to change things up. Most predictive metric are those related to sales velocity. Speed is the #1 predictor. Measure speed in times from start to close, as well as by stage. It will tell you almost immediately what skills to build. 2nd most important are competencies around opportunity starts. Start enough and handle efficiently and things are good. Track PUSHES. If a deal pushes once, just change the close date. One the 2nd push, circle the wagons. I’ve found pushes are the best indicator of how well a deal is behaving. Bring in resources early if a deal stalls. Best coaches focus on opportunity origination and sales velocity. Get those right and the job gets a lot easier.
Q6: How Has Data Changed The Future Of Sales and Sales Coaching?
Data allows us to be predictive. Don’t just gather mountains of data. Answer the “So What” questions. If data doesn’t help you predict, then it is INTERESTING BUT WORTHLESS. We need to use data to help our reps identify where their next level opportunities are in personal development. This is where the big opportunities are. Not using data to manage opportunities, but to manage personal growth. We use data to help determine the future value of a rep…Not just the close date of a deal. Use data to create “What If” scenarios around activity mgt and skill development.
Q7: What Advice Would You Give Sales People Just Starting Their Sales Career?
Advice to new reps…find strong mentors early in your career. Learn your industry well…we need to educate buyers. Don’t focus on the product…products have no value. They only derive value.
earn to speak the language of value. Final piece of advice: If process is strong, success is inevitable. If process is weak, success is unsustainable. Process is about experiences you create, not words that you say. Sales pitches are forgotten quickly but experiences make you legendary…choose to be legendary…
Q8: What Is The Greatest Issue Facing the Sales Profession Today?
Greatest Issue for sales profession is staying relevant as customer changes quickly. Focus on how they buy & stay relevant. Sales orgs need to understand the industry better than anyone else. We HAVE to be engineers of value. Embrace Change! And things are moving so fast that many reps/orgs don’t stay current or care about it until they get behind. Press Pause! Don’t be so focused on outcomes that you don’t stay current in the changing environment until you’re playing from behind.
Q9: How Should Sales Professionals Utilize Their Leaders Best?
If your leader doesn’t bring coaching to you, reach out and ask for it. Leaders should help reproduce skills in each rep. Take advantage of this. Own your personal development plan.
Follow Rob on Twitter @RobJeppsen