It’s all too easy for a company’s sales program to slip from exceptional to average. If you’re the sales manager, it’s important to catch these trends early. The first step is to determine whether the problem may be with your sales people or your sales process. How can you tell which is the case?
Explore the situation by considering two questions:
Am I managing to a well-defined set of expected behaviors that are proven to deliver results?
If the answer is “no,” it’s more likely that the problem is with the process—or the lack of one. When people on the team are allowed to “wing it” or work without accountability in adherence to a process with specific behavioral expectations…that’s a problem. It’s high time for you to put a proven, formal sales system in place that encompasses lead generation, messaging, follow-up, and so many other details unique to your company and industry.
If the answer is “yes,” don’t rule out the fact that your process may need to be updated. But it’s more likely that your challenge lies with an individual or individuals on the team who are either bypassing the system or who are not familiar with the system. In either case, put on your coaching hat and go to work!
Are my people adhering to the system?
If you answered that question “no,” then the problem lends itself to a people-related solution. Ask yourself what has changed since you last consistently achieved the desired results. Then identify productive elements of the sales process that need to be reinforced with your sales team. These situations are often the result of turnover and inadequate onboarding programs. As the sales manager, don’t forget to look at yourself, too, to see if you could be doing a better job guiding and motivating your people and enforcing your system.
What if your answer is “yes”? When your people are performing the prescribed behaviors at a high level but STILL not getting the desired results, then it’s time to analyze the sales process itself. Do your tools need to be updated? Has the industry or competitive environment changed? The world in which we sell has changed dramatically in the past few years and some previous tried and true sales processes just don’t translate well to the digital age.
Generally it’s not an either/or situation. Both performance and processes can be marginally improved at any given time. Don’t wait for problems or sales slippage before you examine one or the other. Managing a sales effort is a continuing process.