New Year 2016 Sales Management Resolutions
Here we are, once again at the beginning of a new year. As you look ahead, what are your goals? What are your team’s goals and what concerns you most? As a sales manager or VP of sales, I’m sure you could come up with a long to-do list that, if executed well, would bring you great success in 2016.
But what is really different in 2016 than last year or the year before? I imagine that some of the problems that existed in 2015 also existed in 2014 and 2013. Most of the problems don’t go away just because we want them to go away.
Take my health, for example. Last year, a doctor informed me that I had a life-changing health problem. I knew I needed to be more mindful of my diet and exercise; my wife, Linda, had told me this for 30 years. However, this is a difficult task for me, a man who loves to cook and eat. I’ve never been a heavy drinker, I exercised fairly regularly, and beyond the occasional cigarette, I thought I was living a healthy lifestyle.
But, apparently, he needed to do more. I bought a FitBit, one of those watches that tracks your steps (10,000 recommended daily, which translates to 4-5 miles depending on your stride length) and set up the online support program that allowed me to enter my intake of food and water.
I immediately started monitoring my watch to see how many steps I still needed to take before the day was out. Where I once went to the gym and did a heavy workout, my lack of consistent behavior had allowed me to gain weight. After a long day at work, who wants to exercise for an hour? So, I changed my mindset and goals and started walking around the neighborhood to complete the 10,000 steps per day goal. Now, I complement my fitness program with exercises in the gym.
Surprise! Now that I am monitoring my daily habits, I realize how unhealthy they were in the past. In the space of a couple of months, I lost 20 pounds and didn’t gain a pound on vacation, which was no small feat for me. Needless to say, I feel better, I look better, and I am healthier than before by monitoring the things I can control.
Here are my suggestions for New Years Resolutions that, if implemented correctly, will eliminate many or most of your sales woes.
- FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT MAY AFFECT. Recognize that while you can’t control the economy or the world of sales, you can control how you approach it. Recognize that you must have salespeople who know how to prospect and approach to find business.
- MANAGE THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR PEOPLE. Inspect what you expect. You will be surprised to find that simply inspecting the correct metrics will improve your sales (or your health). A weekly meeting to review the numbers will draw attention to the under-performers. Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the board. Peer pressure is a valuable tool for getting results. Use it to take advantage of sales.
- ELIMINATE EXCUSES. Stop doing apologize to your sellers and leave to accept them from their vendors. Introduce a sense of urgency into your sales culture. Too often we accept unnecessarily long sales cycles. Teach your people to work with prospects through the pipeline efficiently. Help them learn to weed out those who are clogging the funnel so they can focus on finding those prospects who will buy.
- TRAIN YOUR PEOPLE. Focus your training and coaching on improving skills and changing behaviors. Have your salespeople role play. “Get them to” practice perfect performance “so that when they’re under pressure, they can focus and sell.
- APPLY THE 80/20 RULE TO YOURSELF. If you do 20 tasks week after week, there are probably 4-6 tasks that really matter. Those 4-6 tasks generate 80% of your results. Find out which 4-6 tasks are your Go-Tos. Spend 80% of your time on these basic tasks.
- APR – ALWAYS BE RECRUITING. About 20% of your sales team is not performing properly. This 20% will never perform properly. Fire them. To do this, you must be able to replace them. Recruitment is one of the 4-6 tasks that really matters. Spend time finding people who sell.
Success in sales is not that different from success in fitness and health. There will always be problems that exist beyond our control: we cannot control our genetics that predispose us to certain conditions, but we can control our habits like sleep, diet, and exercise.
By selling, we cannot control the economy or the consumer. But we can control our behaviors, such as prospecting and the number of bookmarked, the number of appointments, etc. – that contribute to our personal and business economy. We can control the way we interact with customers, learning to communicate and keep in touch constantly.
When managing a sales team, your job is to monitor the behaviors that contribute to the company’s sales. So while you can’t control John or when John makes calls from prospects, you can control his inspection of their behaviors, and ultimately you can decide if he is productive enough to be on your sales team.