Don’t Read This If Your Sales Team Are Meeting All Their Goals
Managing a Sales Team involves several skill sets, but regardless of skill sets or experience, most Sales Leaders aren’t judged by sales skills but by their ability to meet the team sales goals. For many businesses, it’s a very black and white issue, and the owner for the goal is the Sales Leader. Most Sales Leaders will leverage several methods to try to support optimum productivity from their teams – placing most of their time towards those sales people who are underperforming. Their approach to managing the under-performers varies - from an emotional appeal, to mandatory “ride-alongs” providing constructive criticism, and sometimes they take a hardened stance which pushes the accountability to those who are not meeting quotas. One of the most common harden stance policies adopted is the 3-month rule - If a sales person misses their goal for 3 consecutive months, they’re out of a job. There’s not an absolute in any of the options – but there is a common denominator – each relies upon trial and error in an attempt to determine which approach has the greatest production impact. If one approach doesn’t work, move to the next, and so on.
Our FocalPoint Sales Coaching experience has consistently proven there’s an alternative approach that removes trial and error and shifts to a strategy that’s already provided consistent results – and most sales teams already have attained the “secret sauce” but have no awareness - we’ve labeled this strategy as the Top 10% model; a strategic sales performance solution most businesses could implement with a fairly short turn-around. Why? Because the Top 10% Model revolves around your over-performers – the sales person(s) who reliably achieves monthly quota.
The Magic Behind the Top 10%
Imagine if you could clone your top one or two sales performers – if you have a sales team of 10 and 1 consistently achieves their monthly goals. What happens to your forecast if you could convert 4 or 5 of your current sales people to produce at the same level of consistency. Your sales trajectory would hockey stick straight up, and more businesses would be on track to achieving annual goals.
Every team has one or two top performers. Our goal isn’t to change these top performers, but to leverage their talents, skill sets, approach, and knowledge to determine the best way this information can transcend through the other 90% of the team. In other words, it isn’t necessary to deploy a trial and error approach at the individual level, when the “prototype” is already engineered to meet or exceed expectations.
The Process – Basic House Cleaning
Before implementing the Top 10% plan – take a step back and ask a couple of critical questions to ensure the sales under-performance isn’t based on operational issues:
Did most of your sales people miss their 2017 annual sales goal?
If the answer is yes. This may require going back further in time – did you see similar results in 2016? 2015?
The point of this exercise is to determine if the sales goals have ever been established as reasonable and achievable. Depending on the historical perspective, it’s possible sales goals have never been established as reasonable and achievable.
If there is year over year consistency in missing annual goals – what were the assumptions behind the forecast?
Every forecast is generated with a set of assumptions to justify the “how” a business will achieve the monthly goals. If there is no “how” there’s no defined path forward to achieve the goal. Variable data points may include any of the following:
- Incremental marketing support
- New sales channel(s)
- Adding new products or services to sell
- Anticipated price increases
- Planned geographic expansion(s) – a larger territory
- Operational delivery and/or implementation cycles – the length of time it takes to begin invoicing.
These are just a few examples, but if any of these variables were part of the forecast we advise course correcting the original planning assumptions first. If a planned assumption didn’t occur, were the sales quotas adjusted to account for the change? Take the time to validate there are no other factors outside of the control of the overall sales team. This requires objective leadership to recognize a sales team can only deliver deals based on the business decisions which supported the plan. By eliminating operational factors, you’ve established a fair base line that allows you to shift to the Top 10% model.
The Process – Leveraging Your Most Valuable Asset
The key to maximizing your top 10% is to develop an actionable blueprint using the unique traits inherent in your top performing sales people, then transferring the knowledge to the rest of the sales team through a sales coaching and training curriculum that aligns to their unique learning skill sets. Use the following as your implementation guidelines:
Top 10% - Identifying Best Performing Sales Skills
Every business is unique – because the people that work for your business are unique. It’s a safe assumption, that your top performers have unique skill sets that aren’t necessarily found in a handbook. It takes time, and the tenacity to uncover a specific profile of each of your top performers. Over our years of sales coaching and training, we’ve collected significant research to help define the skill sets that are most commonly associated to top performers – it’s a good place to start, but most likely you’ll find skill sets and/or behaviors that are truly unique to your top performers.
- Ability to identify and react accurately to the behavior and emotions of a buyer
- Ability to quickly determine the driving forces on how best relate to the potential buyer
- Able to identify feelings/frustrations objectively without necessarily agreeing with them
- Ability to establish a rapport easily and putting people “at ease” in their presence
- Good listening skills
- Curios—knows how to asks questions requiring more than a yes or no answer
- Goal-orientated with the ability to articulate goals clearly and assign timelines
- Independent – they don’t require managerial direction or guidance
- Self-discipline and conscientiousness to service existing customers -nurturing incremental revenue growth
- Their communication style is succinct
- Operate with a sense of urgency, as exemplified in the need to see the sale progress and to bring situations to a resolution
- Anticipate consequences and evaluate alternatives before acting
- Maintain a positive outlook towards situations and people—tends to admire, and not to criticize a lot
- Accepts valid criticisms and suggestions for performance improvement
- Initiative and the ability to focus on opportunities and solutions
- Focused on what can be done as opposed to what cannot be accomplished
- Able to shake-off rejection – doesn’t allow rejection on one sales call to affect their ability to perform on the next
- Persistence – will continue to readdress an objection until the perceived issue has been negated
- Enjoys competitiveness, consistently measuring themselves against their peers
- Possess leadership qualities and is not afraid to exert pressure to influence others
- Enjoy sales as a profession for it provides personal gratification
- Determined to win and willing to take risks
The Process- Transferring Top 10% Behaviors
Once you’ve vetted a detailed profile, the next step is to determine the best approach to how you transfer the most critical skill sets to the remainder of the team. However, the number 1 goal is to remember you’re not changing a personality, but rather stay focused on habits, and behaviors. At FocalPoint we apply the following process to generate the most consistent results:
Attitude Analysis – there’s nothing more important in the Top 10% process than understanding the “attitude” of a sales person. At FocalPoint we adhere to a strict rule – 85% of a sales person’s ability to succeed is based on a positive attitude. If the sales person is deficient, the time would be better spent encouraging that person to find an alternative career that better suited to their personality. Assuming the sales person(s) embrace a positive attitude, the time of transitioning Top 10% behaviors will most likely have a favorable outcome.
Personality Assessment – take the time and make the investment in gathering a better understanding of the sales person’s personality – as cautioned, the goal is not to change a person’s personality – a personality assessment, such as DISC will arm you with a much better understanding of dominant and secondary traits – which should be used to develop a transition plan that will adapt to the person vs. forcing the person to adapt to a process.
Ride-Alongs – using the Top 10% strategy should have a dramatic impact on they type of information you’re looking to acquire. Although best sales practices are ignored, the sales leader is also running an active comparison to identify gaps that need to be addressed or similarities which need to be exploited. This isn’t necessarily limited to ride-alongs, but also casual observation of in-office behaviors.
Align the Top 10% behaviors – armed with the personality assessment and the data gathered through observation – develop a plan with the sale person that defines a reasonable towards adapting the identified skill set/behavior gaps.
The Top 10% Model is a strategy that leverages attributes of your highest performing sales people – it works because you’ve already seen the consistent results as produced by your top performers. However, the success of deploying the strategy is immersed in the process of successfully transitioning top 10% behaviors. The appeal to taking a “short-cut” usually results in non-permanent band-aids with short-term results. If you want to learn more about the Top 10% strategy, let’s connect and discuss your unique sales team and business – Jbelford@FocalPointCoaching.com
About Jack Belford
Jack Belford believes that when leaders, business owners, sales people are at their best, their business and quality of life is at its best. As an entrepreneur and small business owner combined with more than two decades of senior-level leadership at $100M+ companies, Jack Belford offers expertise in developing top performing business leaders. Jack brings a wealth of sales, service, strategic planning, operations, team-building and leadership experience to his role as business coach.
Through his leadership and coaching, Jack has helped companies define and amplify brand recognition while growing their revenue and profits through effective sales teams and savvy managers that produce bottom line results.
Are you looking to take your business to the next level and reduce your stress in the process? Using actionable techniques and proven strategies, Jack helps guide clients to become more profitable, lower operational costs, increase sales, improve employee engagement and retention, and hire the right people.
In addition to his studies and certification with FocalPoint Business Coaching, Jack is a certified leadership trainer and coach and member of the John Maxwell Team. He is certified in Learning International: Winning Accounts Strategy, Professional Sales Coaching Skills, Professional Listening Skills and Professional Selling Skills.
To date, Jack has trained hundreds of professionals, many of whom have blossomed into the top 10% of the top 10%—driving them to new levels of success by creating genuine connections and relationships built on trust and confidence.