Goto your account
Search Stories by: 

Feature Stories

Ditch these sales management ills this year

September is the time when retailers set their focus on Christmas but GRETCHEN GORDON reports it’s also a great time to consider how to make next year better than the current one.

If it’s been a sluggish year or worse, perhaps it’s time to review how to improve things next year. To help retailers do that, here is a list of 20 ineffective sales management practices that businesses should ditch when seeking better sales this year.

1. Hiring in desperation

Hiring under a time crunch is unlikely to yield great results. Use online recruitment
to seek out the next great salesperson before they are needed. Excellence in hiring comes by following consistent processes.

2. Relying on hunches when hiring

It’s difficult for people to accept that they have only a 50 per cent chance of success when they trust their own instincts for hiring. Luck is not a strategy and studies have shown that unstructured interviews – those based on gut instinct and first impressions – have no better odds of predicting future work performance than a coin toss. On the other hand, sales candidate assessments can have a 95 per cent predictive validity, which is close to a guarantee of performance. Trust the data.

3. Investing in staff before assessing the culture

Hiring good people into poor cultures is the same as applying a bandaid to a chronic problem. Even the very best salesperson will absorb a toxic culture, including the bad habits of the existing sales team. Once this happens, the salesperson becomes part of the problem instead of the solution. Individual salespeople can’t overcome ineffective management or a sales team with poor selling practices.

4. Updating sales priorities but not commission plans

Review any commission plan with a critical eye and make sure sales staff have a clear understanding of the outcomes that are being rewarded and prioritised. Any stated priorities should be consistent with the commission structure.

5. Underestimating the need for consultative selling

Dave Kurlan, the founder of sales consulting firm Objective Management Group, presented data in his blog earlier this year that showed sales organisations have failed to make headway with consultative selling over the past four years. Despite much talk and training to develop that skill, ill-informed attempts at consultative selling result in ‘insultative’ selling. Endeavour to do the consultative approach properly this year.

6. Failing to encourage staff member independence

It may seem more expedient to answer the questions of sales staff for them but better sales coaching is to master the art of flipping questions back on staff and guiding them to find the answers on their own.

7. Teaching gimmicks and tricks instead of building trust
Sales managers have a choice: implement half-baked approaches to consultative selling or teach staff members to build trust with tried and true techniques, such as continually dropping a customer’s name into the conversation without reason. 

8. Not knowing where and how time is spent

Owners and managers should spend the bulk of their time coaching the team.

The balance, even in small increments, should be spent on motivating staff, measuring performances, holding salespeople accountable, recruitment, crisis and issue management, direct selling, business and product strategy as well as compensation planning.

Managers are accountable to themselves to be the best managers they can be and that all starts with accounting for their time.

9. Selling instead of growing sales

Just 5 per cent of a manager’s time should be spent selling directly. It shouldn’t be up to managers to close sales and if they think this, they’re thinking like salespeople, not like managers. A manager’s job is to improve the salespeople. Only by developing good store staff can managers truly grow sales revenue.

10. Not doing enough coaching

Objective Management Group data indicates a whopping 82 per cent of sales managers are not effective sales coaches. Again, this is the most important thing that managers should be doing. Be proactive.
Be in the 18 per cent, not the 82 per cent.

11. Not doing enough to hold salespeople accountable

If managers are delaying implementing and holding salespeople accountable to their individual activity plans, how can they manage their sales teams effectively?

12. Failing to connect the activity plans with individual goals

It’s important that sales staff own their activity plans rather than have them dictated by management. Certainly, management should avoid making just one sales activity plan and distributing this to all of the salespeople.

13. Allowing micro-management

This is another way of looking at number six on this list. Managers who nurture their sales team’s dependence upon them can become worn down; too much time is spent solving everyone else’s problems and providing direction on everything.
Managers who help staff to develop independence will not only see their staff grow to solve their own problems but will also free up invaluable time.

14. Habitually avoiding conflict

Evidence of ‘avoider disorder’ includes managers who fail to address problems and fail to hold their salespeople accountable. This issue often stems from a ‘need for approval’ weakness.
When managers don’t hold their salespeople accountable, it undermines their authority and the problem spreads. This behaviour is effectively teaching the sales team that their activity plans are optional. No owner or manager should be wishing to give that impression.

15. Not having a staff-introduction program in place

All too often businesses don’t have structured and repeatable introduction programs for new staff. Companies that follow structured ‘on-boarding’ programs consistently have the best results and shorten the time to productivity.

16. Failing to account for generational shifts

It’s said that Millennials will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. It’s important to understand how this group is different and how these differences might influence a business’ ability to manage them, as well as attract and retain them.

17. Poor implementation of CRM

Having an effective CRM (customer relationship management) platform that ‘talks’ to any marketing software continues to be a challenge; however, the success of all sales and marketing initiatives hinge heavily on CRM.

There are many different CRM packages and they are all no better than the sales teams using them. This makes CRM a sales management issue. Is the sales team committed to using CRM? What needs to be done differently to make CRM more efficient and effective?

18. Overestimating sales pipelines

This is an easy one. When forecasting future sales, businesses must remain realistic. Managers who don’t tame their sales pipelines are going to under-deliver again and again. Remember, bigger is not better; realistic is better.

19. Ignoring poor sales and marketing efforts

There are many ways to assess sales and marketing efforts but businesses ultimately need to ask whether their sales and marketing efforts are working towards different goals with different strategies or whether they are working in harmony towards a single purpose.

Is sales data syncing accurately? Are there salespeople doing marketing and marketing people performing sales? If so, do these staff members have the appropriate skill sets and qualities to succeed across both roles?

20. Ignoring staff retention

This is an issue that becomes more prevalent when moving towards the end of the year.

One solution is to develop a retention plan for the sales team, which makes sense given the costs of hiring – particularly mis-hiring – and the challenges of on-boarding properly for sales.

Solving staff issues is not just about hiring new salespeople; it’s also about keeping existing salespeople. A great place to start is to understand their motivation and offering appropriate incentives.

What has been mentioned are 20 sales management practices that need to be improved or replaced.

It’s a great time of the year to reflect back upon the year that’s passed and consider how things can be improved going forward.

Only through a cycle of iterative improvement can retailers set themselves up for a great year of management.

Gretchen Gordon

Contributor • Braveheart Sales Performance

Gretchen Gordon owns Braveheart Sales Performance, a company helping clients to improve sales. Learn more:

German Cuckoo Clock Nest

Read current issue

login to my account
Username: Password:
La Couronne Jewellery
World Shiner
Jeweller Magazine
© 2024 Befindan Media