How to Radically Improve Your Team’s Sales Productivity in 3 Easy Steps
Is your sales team using every minute of their day in the most productive way possible? A little bit of organization now will have a huge impact on how productive your salespeople are tomorrow, next month, even next quarter.
In 19, hyper-focused minutes, we’ll cover:
- A method to clearly define your account segments so your team knows exactly where their focus should be
- How to get a baseline reading of your team’s current focus to determine where changes should be made
- The best way to create and execute a plan to keep your team focused and on track for meeting their targets
Read the Full Transcript of the Briefinar Below:
Lisa Rose: Hello and welcome to Briefinars For Sales Leaders. We promise to be brief and bright and bring it all to you in 19 minutes. We are being respectful of your time.
Lisa Rose: So, today we’re talking about how to radically improve your team sales productivity in three easy steps. That’s all you have to remember, three easy steps. We’re going to record this session, so you’ll get a recording afterwards, and you’ll have a chance to ask us some questions at the end. Send in some questions, and we can review them afterwards.
Lisa Rose: I’m Lisa Rose. I’m a Regional Vice President at the Brooks Group. Our guest with me today is Bill Moore. Bill is a recent addition to our Brooks Group’s facilitation team, and Bill, you bring three decades of experience coaching and managing industrial sales teams across North America. So, New year, new goals right, Bill?
Bill Moore: You know what, Lisa, that’s right. With 2017 coming upon us like a freight train, and a great opportunity it looks like for 2017 to be improving business. I hope that the attendees today will find that the suggestion we’re promoting will help them really capture and win the goals. I know that [inaudible 00:01:14] time to make sure that my teams and myself succeeded both in good times and bad, so I’m really looking forward to the discussion.
Lisa Rose: Yeah, I love this time of year because you go from the hero of 2016 to the zero of 2017 until you get going again, right?
Bill Moore: Yeah.
Lisa Rose: So, as we begin to look at 2017 and we start to look at radically improving your sales team results up, some interesting things to consider. I did some research this week, and I’ve found that research shows that sales reps receive almost 600 emails per week, and the average sales rep needs to update more than 300 CRM records every week, too.
Lisa Rose: So, there are things competing for our time, so what type of strategy can you put in place? Because probably the most daunting fact that I found this week is that two thirds of sales reps fail to reach their annual sales quota goal, and that’s just sad, sad, sad. We are out to change that today. So, how do you coach your salespeople to make the right activities a priority? That’s what our goal is going to be today.
Lisa Rose: So let’s start with step one: Get your salespeople to divide their accounts by business segments. Now, here’s some examples of big business segments. You may use different ones, but this is a place to get started. So, self-generated leads. Those are accounts that are going to generate through prospecting, not qualified yet.
Lisa Rose: Target accounts, now they’re the ones that have been partially qualified, but they haven’t done any business with you, so this is the big apple up on the shelf that you’re aiming for. They belong to your competitor, but you think you have a chance with them.
Lisa Rose: The third business segment would be growth accounts. So, these are accounts you have your foot in the door, you’re doing some business with them, but you have a potential to grow your margin or gain your share in that group. That’s a big component.
Lisa Rose: And then key accounts, your bread and butter, the ones that think of you first. You know, it’s interesting. Yesterday as part of my planning for the year, I printed out my top accounts from last year, and I discovered one of my key accounts was my number two account, and I hadn’t really spent any time with them. That was very eye opening to me, so that’s a good place to start. Just an insight from my perspective.
Lisa Rose: Bill, would you say that most accounts fit into these categories?
Bill Moore: Yes, Lisa, I do. I know different companies will use different nomenclature, whether they’re new customers, key accounts, national accounts, growth accounts. These categories are very germane to all companies, and I think as a sales manager, one of the important parts that we own as a manager is to help our sellers look at their customer base and divide or stratify their customers into these types of accounts because understanding where an account is in the process and what opportunities are there within the process is important.
Bill Moore: And it’s also, I think, here … We did have a question around how does this fit not only with direct sales customers but with distribution customers?
Lisa Rose: Distributors, yeah.
Bill Moore: And what I found is distributors are not all the same, whether it’s different distributor companies or different branches. You can take this same segmentation into your distributor customer base to help your sellers know which ones are going to be better opportunities and which ones they need to work on to create new growth, brand new growth in business. So, as a sales leader, it’s really important to help your people understand these different business segments.
Lisa Rose: That’s absolutely right, and we’re working with more and more companies that have that distributor model. They may do some direct selling, but they’re working distributors, too, so how do you project this forward into them? That’s a critical piece.
Lisa Rose: So let’s move forward into step two. So, where are your salespeople spending their time? Evaluate their energy output on each segment. So, you may want to ask your salespeople to keep a log, and I know they hate that, but it is very insightful. Keep a log of where they’re spending their time, and then break the accounts into the business segments, right?
Lisa Rose: So, in this example, they found that they were spending 40% of their time prospecting or working on self-generated leads, 30% of the time taking a look at target accounts or accounts that they want to get into or pull away from their competitors, 20% on their growth accounts, so trying to grow your share within and sell more to existing accounts, and 10% on key accounts. 10% really taking the time to do what I did not do well last year in some of mine. Spend the time nurturing them and making sure they’re happy because you’re key accounts can be somebody else’s self-generated lead, and you don’t want that to happen.
Lisa Rose: Is this typical, what you would see, Bill, when you were working with teams industrial sales?
Bill Moore: Yeah, Lisa, what’s interesting is that I found differences within different sellers. I’ve had sellers that would spend 90% of their time on the key accounts and virtually very little on following up leads because they were afraid of rejection. I had sellers that would spend a tremendous amount of time on accounts close to home and forget that their real business opportunity required them to travel.
Bill Moore: What was interesting is when I did work with my sales teams to do some actual tracking activity, it was eye opening not only for myself, but as you said in your example with your key account, was eye opening for them as well, so I think it’s a really good activity for the sales leaders and sales managers here to do some time trafficking and then individually go through this with the seller so that they understand that there is not only a comfort level in changing where they spend their time, but an expectation that their success rate is going to change as they get better at targeting the right growth and account opportunities.
Bill Moore: And I think it’s also important for the sales leaders to remember it’s your job as a sales leader to help your seller move to capture the opportunities. You can help your salespeople break bad habits by just simply being a person that can sit down and help them review their activity in a, I hate to say the non-judgmental way because you’re the boss and there is some judgment, but to take the time and coach them through where the right opportunities are, and it’s tremendously important to help in sales productivity to get this right.
Lisa Rose: Yeah, and I think you touched on a really important element there that some people spend a lot of time with their key accounts. We used to call those doughnut runs; just stopping in, having lunch, no objective for the call. And I think also the time allotted for each of these business segments is important to align with what your overall goals are in growing your accounts. How strong or how high is your goal? You might have to spend more time on self-gen leads and prospecting some new business rather than just growing and move into more of a hunter mode than just maintaining what you have, but I think those are all really good points.
Lisa Rose: So, let’s move to step three. So, step three: Let’s make a plan, right? So, let’s make a deal, let’s make a plan. Start with the results that you want from each of business segments, and again, as a manager you can help them set those results from each segment and then walk back down the ladder.
Lisa Rose: So, in other words, if your objective is to cross sell two additional products or services into at least three growth accounts, your strategy may be to strengthen your relationship with each account. So, how does that then go back down the ladder to activities? I mean, that’s where really the rubber hits the road. What activities can you do to sell more into three growth accounts?
Lisa Rose: Here’s some examples. So, your activities might include asking for introductions from your day to day contacts. Actually picking up the phone and placing a call to CEOs to introduce yourself and your organization. Of course, that’s always much better if you can do that in a warm way through another contact. Scheduling face to face capabilities presentations for C-Suite stakeholders, maybe inviting the CEOs to an upcoming relationship meeting with some of your key contacts. Just some good strong activities that will funnel back up through the objectives and strategies, align with those, and then get you the results that you need.
Lisa Rose: Another good idea might be to set some milestones for your salespeople. So, once you map out this plan, set some milestones. We had a question about that from a manager that emailed us this week. Maybe a 30 day check in, 60 days, 90 days, six months. It’s all about accountability. Anybody can put together a plan, but how do you make sure that it’s executed and salespeople stay on the plan? Have you seen this work, Bill, this type of strategy?
Bill Moore: I think, Lisa, that this is probably, for me, the most important part of leading and coaching a sales team, and that was, as you stated first, let’s make sure we understand the results that are needed and expected. And remember as a manager, not everyone is going to have the same growth rate across your organization, so you need to make sure you understand that.
Bill Moore: But as you go through the objectives and the strategies, I found that it was both the hardest thing to do but the most worthy thing to do is to set deadlines and follow up times and making sure that I as the leader spent time individually working with the salespeople against the deadlines we agreed on because nothing is more stressful than a seller who has made an agreement to do something by a date, and they recognize that they need to do it, and from a leadership perspective, it’s my job to follow up and let them know, “Hey, you made the agreement. Let’s follow through and make sure that we’re doing it.” So, this is challenging.
Bill Moore: Also, as a manager, we have to fight that balance between internal and external, and so helping the sellers realize that getting out in front of customers is how you get orders, and we’ll talk about some high gain, low gain activities in a moment, but really setting those deadlines is critical.
Lisa Rose: Yeah. Yep. Absolutely. So, let’s talk about high gain versus low gain. The question is are all activities equal? I’m busy all day. Isn’t that enough? No. So, the quick answer is no. High gain activities versus low gain. This is helpful for you to walk through with your sales people, as well.
Lisa Rose: So, high gain activities would be actions that lead directly to winning the business. So, examples of that might be, you’ll see on the left, sharing industry insights with clients, making a demo or presentation, meeting with decision makers, floating ideas, becoming that trusted advisor, bringing up some issues they may not have thought of. Those are considered high gain activities.
Lisa Rose: Whereas low gain activities, we all have to do low gain activities. The boss expects them to be done, but they don’t contribute directly to winning the business. So, examples of that might be entering data into CRM, reviewing social media for prospects, participating in internal meetings in the company. You gotta do that right? And you have to read and respond to email, but they are not going to lead directly to closing business.
Lisa Rose: So, a good activity might be for you as manager to get your team to jot down what they’re doing on a daily basis and then go back through it and highlight maybe with different color highlighters, what’s high gain, what’s low gain, and see if they’re focusing their time on the best activities. They may be. In most cases, it’s very eye opening to the sales rep themselves to do that process themselves than just to have you point it out to them. Is that what you find, Bill?
Bill Moore: Exactly. So, Lisa, as you said, it’s easy for both sellers as well as managers to fall into the trap of checking the boxes by keeping the email and CRM up to date, and then you forget that the real action happens in front of the customer.
Bill Moore: So, as a sales manager and leader, you have to drive the business by keeping the focus on the high gain activities. You as a sales leader will build your leadership legend by ensuring you help your sellers get the most out of the customer engagements.
Bill Moore: What I found is helping my sales team hone presentations, being available to go to customers because a title will frequently get you in the door to meet someone higher up in the organization, being available for that, and while I’m there, helping them probe for opportunities to help solve customer issues, which is really important both from a development as well as a business help.
Bill Moore: The last thing is this: Give them permission to miss internal deadlines if you can spur growth and productivity.
Lisa Rose: Good point. Yeah. And I think you raise a good point. As a sales manager, you need to be doing high gain activities, too. Staying in the office and filling out reports and filling out CRM is not a good use of your time, as well, especially when you can be spending some time in the field coaching and managing from that and setting some examples.
Lisa Rose: So, this has all been good, if you liked some of these steps, they came directly from part of the Brooks Group Sales Territory Planning Workshop. We found successful salespeople need to have strong selling skills, but in order to hit their targets, it’s critical to execute an action plan, so let us customize this workshop for your industry and goals and then come out, work directly with your sales team in developing their 2017 strategy. I know Bill would be more than happy to do that, and you can learn more about that by going to the web address listed on your screen here. You can go the Brooks Group website as well and just look for sales territory planning.
Lisa Rose: I love this workshop because it’s like building a treasure map with the salespeople. I mean, they leave with exactly what they need to do to hit their goals. It goes directly back to that.
Lisa Rose: So I know we’re wrapping up. We have about 20 more seconds, but the year’s looking good ahead in 2017, Bill. US GDP is looking like a growth of 2.1, which is better than last year, and we’re looking for US manufacturing to grow fast. Spikes in infrastructure expected. It’s changing every day with the new administration in. Construction spending, upward ticks in warehousing and stable food and beverage, as well.
Lisa Rose: Anything you would add, Bill?
Bill Moore: The last thing I would add here, Lisa, is this: You as a sales manager should take the opportunity today and prepare yourself for the economy that’s going to get better through the year. The work you do over the next four weeks is going to set you up so much to take advantage of this economy, which I think we all believe is going to get better even in the second half over the first half.
Lisa Rose: So, set the stage to radically improve your team’s sales productivity. Number one, divide their segments, two, analyze where they’re spending their time, three, make a plan.
Lisa Rose: If you have any questions, please email them. You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible, and our producer will add a link for your questions in the chat box, as well.
Lisa Rose: Thank you for joining us. I know we went a little bit over time, but I hope you felt like it was worth it. Lisa Rose and Bill Moore from the Brooks Group. Have a great afternoon.