Times are improving. As we get busier, it becomes easier and easier to forget the sins of the past. Lately one of those more dangerous sins keeps coming to light as sales management is consistently asked to do more on top of their primary duties of keeping the sales engine flowing.
Often sales people are left on their own with little to no supervision, no planned encounters, goals, or even a basic understanding of their minimum performance expectations. I totally get it; I have been there and walked in your shoes. There is so much to do with so little time to do it. However, if we all agree, “nothing happens until a sale takes place” we have to start focusing our efforts in the right direction.
Have you ever noticed how people who enroll in a weight loss program, involving accountability and long term maintenance, do better than those who try to go it alone? The same is true in sales. It is not enough to simply “train” your team with a 1 shot, 1 size fits all “motivational rah, rah”. That is certainly a good start, but that is all it is—a start.
Zig Ziglar tells us: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Now as a Sales Trainer, you probably find this line of thinking peculiar, but often I am invited into a company to do training on a particular discipline with the sales team because there is the feeling that the team “is not closing enough” or “they are not doing enough to drive traffic”, or their “follow-up needs work,” etc. However, what I generally find once I begin working with the team is that there is more of a systemic break-down and that those particular challenges are merely a symptom of a greater issue.
Sales people, like any other, will perform in direct proportion to the level of expectations set—WHEN AND ONLY WHEN those expectations are reinforced, coached, and inspected. Yet all too often, we leave these sales people out in the field alone without a weekly planned encounter. We are not working with them on their very specific and time oriented goals (not our quotas), or even giving them a road map on how to reach those goals and check points along the way where we, as leaders, should be stepping in to guide them. Then, when our sales teams fall short, we start to make excuses for them about what the competition is doing, or they did not have enough traffic, or this or that…and yet we scratch our heads and wonder why we are not getting results.
Here is another little known fact—when you hold sales people accountable, they will resist at first—UNTIL they start seeing results. Once those results start to happen, and we celebrate those results with them, well the desire sets in to not only repeat the results but to up the ante. The key is we, the leaders. We have to dangle both carrot and stick and we have to hold ourselves accountable to be what our team needs us to be. Here are a few simple thoughts to help you get started down the right path:
1. SALES RESULTS HAPPEN IN THE FIELD! They do not happen in your office or at your corporate headquarters. You must be in the field, spending quality time with your team every week. If you can’t spend at least 4 hours 1:1 with each of your sales team every week, then either your territory is too large or your priorities are not straight. *If your territory is too large, get help—outsourced or otherwise because your team deserves focused attention, and you will never be able to grow until you increase your sales.
2. You must have a planned encounter and you must expect your sales people to use it religiously every single week. I have a simple form that I use to track traffic, appointments, be-back appointments, and sales. This form also includes all of the activities it takes to be successful using a simple formula based on a 10% conversion ratio.
3. You must have, in writing, minimum performance expectations and have each one of your sales staff sign it and have it placed in their official files.
4. Be prepared to provide a realistic disciplinary plan of action and stick to it (up to and including termination)—in other words you can’t make exceptions for this one and not that one or for the one who is making at least the minimum number of sales, but refuses to take part in the rest of the program. (Bad attitudes count here! Make no mistake they are highly contagious and are affecting the rest of your team! Cut that cancer out!)
5. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to “Top Grade”. Sometimes bad habits are just too hard to break. If you can truly look yourself in the mirror and say that you have done all that you can to help someone to achieve at a higher level, but he/she just refused to go along on the trip, well it may just be time to invite him/her to take his/her excellence elsewhere.
6. REWARD not only RESULTS but also EFFORT. Celebrate successes every step of the way.
7. Bring in professional help. Hiring a trainer/consultant, to support and reinforce your efforts, not only helps hold you accountable, but it adds credibility to your efforts. *Ever notice how your kids will listen to a teacher or a coach, but you try to give them the same advice and it falls on deaf ears?
Your team can perform at a higher level. There are teams all across the country who are succeeding despite lots of different conditions because they are focused; they have a plan and they are disciplined in working that plan. They know that the only way to get out of the hole they are in is to stop digging, but start filling it back in by getting more and BETTER sales!
Kimberly Mackey, REALTOR®, is the founder of New Homes Solutions, Inc., and has been called a rising star in the Homebuilder World for her reputation as someone with real world SOLUTIONS in a competitive and rapidly changing sales environment–SOLUTIONS like “50 Sales per Year before Any Walk-in Traffic”. She is a published author of many Sales and Leadership articles and a keynote speaker with over a decade and a half of experience as an executive in the residential home building and real estate industry. She has experience working with Builders and Developers of all sizes –from the local/regional companies to the publicly traded nationals. She also works with Brokers from across the country and is the architect and director of the highly successful Preferred Builder Partnership program with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Properties Group, where she has increased new home builder sales by over 200%.
For more information, or to book Kimberly for your next event, visit www.NewHomesSolutions.com, or visit Mackey at LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/kimberlymackey; Twitter, www.twitter.com/KimberlyDMackey; and Facebook, www.facebook.com/NewHomesSolutions.