The last in this series takes us full circle. Everything I’ve written about in the last nine weeks answers this question. Today I’m focusing on the sales team.
I’ve worked with sales people my whole working life. I started out in sales, for Blazer (bought by Moss Bros in 1996). I’ve experienced many different sales teams, managers and directors since then.
We’re all acutely aware of the loudmouthed, aggressive “machine gun” type of sales. If you’re not, just turn on the Apprentice! This, however, is only half the story. Those guys are usually highly strung, emotional and insecure (sorry about the grand sweeping statement but I’m going on my 20 years of experience working alongside them). They’re very driven but prone to huge crashes. This fundamentally impacts you, the business and the team around them. So, how do you even out the rollercoaster for everyone?
1. Set great objectives
A good sales person will love the chase. Well-constructed targets will give them that. But they’ll love the kill even more. Targets need to be achievable because a chase without a kill is dangerously demoralising. Go back to 1. How to set objectives.
2. Do the emotional legwork
Make sure they’re happy. Emotionally engage with them. Go back to 5. How to engage your employees. This is vital for your sales team. The best sales team leaders I’ve met, knew everything about everyone in their team. They knew each one of them personally and their family. They understood them and their aspirations. And most importantly they gave them targets in line with those aspirations. Targets and commission structures that drove them but were directly aligned with the objectives of the business too.
3. Tell them to stop selling
They’ll start listening instead. Have you ever noticed how you got that job when you didn’t really want it? This is the same thing. If a sales person is relaxed, they’ll sell more. I did. They’re going to be more engaged in conversation, authentically interested. They’ve got no agenda, so they’ve got time to behave like a normal human being and converse. If you’ve already put in the emotional legwork (above), you’re leading this by example anyway.
The best salesperson I know
She’s one of my best friends. We met while I was handing over a set of high-profile law firm accounts to her in 2013. She cut her teeth at Yellow Pages which, in the 90s, had a notoriously aggressive sales pit – the cause of nervous breakdowns for twentysomethings all over London. She used to make herself ill trying to hit her targets. Which she did.
When she came across a team leader who ‘got’ her and motivated her with what she wanted, she was flying. Smashing her targets mid-month without seemingly doing anything.
How and why she did it
She loved her boss. He knew he had the best sales person in the industry, so he gave her what she wanted – great salary, bottomless expenses account, amazing car and challenging targets. He always had her back. I can imagine she probably went into see clients on a cloud of Chanel-smelling positivity and they absolutely loved her.
She knew everything about her clients and I mean everything. She had time to really get to know them. She was involved in their lives. The results? AMAZING! They’ve even followed her from one company, to a competitor, back again and to another competitor.
Other blogs in the series
Don’t miss the next series: Things people ask. The first one, in April, is a question I was asked last week: “Should we focus on just one type of customer?”.