Now what do you have to do? You have worked for years in different sales positions, have tons of experience, but now you sense you are in for another game. You now have to sell through others. That is different, and you have no chance to reach your numbers all by yourself. In our work as Sales Directors, whether our team is inside or outside, small or big, sell machinery, online software or services, we have one single aim, and that is to get the most out of our team. The only way we can make our team more successful is by our own actions, helping them to do more and do better.
Below you will find 5 pieces of advice that I find particularly helpful to always keep in mind:
- Use your team’s time wisely: Your most important asset is your people, and their time, skills, competence and energy. The latter three are things that you constantly should strive to develop, as they are the key ingredients for efficiency. The former, time, however, is the only one you cannot change or develop, so make sure you use it well.
- Deliver on promise – Be in synch with your company: One of the most important lessons that I learnt over the years is that your local sales strategy must be aligned with what your company can actually deliver on. It may sound as something obvious, yet so often we find sales teams who try to sell what is not really available, or at terms that are not backed by delivery and production. The key to a company’s success is a high rebuying rate, customers that stay on and buy year after year. We should be bold and bring new things to market, but be careful not to overcommit and subsequently underdeliver, a “one deal customer” rarely is profitable.
- Provide value, not discounts. This may go without saying but strive to find every possible way in the quality of your work to provide value to your customer. Every percent of discount that is given, need to be recovered from other deals, which means that you need to do more deals. Most often this additional sales is created through new customer prospecting, which is costly. If you give a 25% discount, you need to find 33% more deals, if you discount 50%, you must find twice as many deals.
- Map and plan your territory well. With your team, analyse and find the answers to the following questions. Where do you have the biggest potential? In which customers do you have the best chance of doing a really good job? Where can you shorten the sales cycle? Apart from the obvious split into existing customers and new customer prospecting, what other dimensions do you find? Which offerings fit the best with certain customer groups?
- Engage your team with clear and exciting objectives. Studies show that by stating clear objectives for our team members, objectives that help provide a context and a purpose for the individuals’ contribution to the collective, productivity increases by 10 – 15%. If we then give clear, honest and transparent feedback on these objectives, we can double that effect. Plan your feedback talks or performance reviews regularly, once a month is a good interval. Try to find ways to set objectives on activities, and not only on Quantity, but especially on how well these activities are performed (Quality), and let the person own his/her own objectives. This way you as a manager help and guide the individual to excellence, but the responsibility for the objective and reaching it remains with the sales rep.