Are you protecting your sales team from failure or disappointment so they won't get discouraged…
How is your sales team doing at meeting your sales expectations? Are they hitting their goals, following the sales process, completing their admin tasks and meeting your activity expectations? …..Sorry, I’m having a hard time hearing that loud, YES! But wouldn’t it be great if yes was your answer? Your team can meet your expectations, but here’s the bad news. It’s likely your contributing to your team’s deficiency. Here’s the good news; you can change that by investing a little time with the three-step process we use at Sales Manager Now.
In twelve years of working with new clients I have had very few owners that had clear goals and expectations for their sales people. It’s very common to leave clarity out. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, I told them what I want, but they aren’t doing it”. You probably did tell them, but it’s not what we say that matters as much as what the sales team understands. Your sales team could be falling short of your expectations because you have hired poorly, or the expectation is not seen as important. If the latter, your team might have heard what you “want”, but they haven’t heard that it is important to do. To them, they may feel it’s something to try to do, but not really expected.
The three steps we use to help sales people exceed our expectations is to define and document our expectations, communicate them effectively and inspect what we expect. You can do the same by following the outline below.
Define and document your goals so others can understand them.
Use the SMART approach when defining expectations and goals. The acronym SMART has several variations which all support the setting of goals to be met. My preference on the acronym is, Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-based.
Then document what you defined so others can understand it. You might be tempted to take your notes into a meeting and simply share your expectations. Rather, take the time to document the work you just did defining your expectations.
Some areas to check on regarding foundational expectations with the sales team are:
- Key Performance Goals for the company (especially around revenue), customer additions, retention, products and customer types.
- Job Description: Make sure the duties, administrative tasks and primary responsibilities are defined for your sales people.
- Sales results and activities for each sales person and collectively as a team.
- Your sales process and the steps required in each step.
- Purpose of sales meetings.
- Respect and communication practices between sales and support departments. This is one that I like to work on but is often overlooked. I’ve found that when sales and support teams enjoy working together it shows up in increased sales.
Communicate your expectations
Fulfillment of your expectations can go sideways if you use one-way or only one method of communication, such as verbal, text, email or a memo to deliver your expectations. Simply delivering your expectations does not ensure your team understands or agrees with your expectations. Go beyond delivery, and communicate your expectations through dialogue. Many owners fall into a trap believing their authority will be enough, but the truth is clarity trumps authority in most cases.
Schedule a meeting and have a conversation to gain agreement on goals. Hand out your written expectations and ask for questions or concerns so you can gain agreement on the specifics of your expectations. Make any adjustments if needed.
Inspect what you expect
When your expectations are inspected or monitored regularly they will be understood to be important. Some owners shy away from this so they don’t come across as micromanaging. Monitoring progress is not micromanagement if you allow your people to make decisions on what they do next to meet expectations. Inspection becomes micromanagement if you start making decisions your sales people have been hired to make. Inspection is about providing a mirror for your team to examine their current state, either good or bad. Here are a few tips to keep your expectations important.
- Any goals that are part of the company and individual sales plan that can be measured should be put on a graph and reviewed at least monthly if not weekly.
- Conduct weekly sales meetings to review sales progress and reinforce your sales process.
- Monthly one-on-one meetings are great to review individual sales plan goals.
- Hold annual reviews to monitor annual progress and reinforce what’s going right.
- Invite support teams into sales meetings from time to time to check on communication and issues that need to be improved.
- Have monthly or quarterly staff meetings to review how the company goals are progressing and CELEBRATE! What you celebrate will be viewed as important.
- Correct performance that is not meeting expectations. What you correct or confront will be viewed as important.
I almost titled this blog, “Kicking Your Feet Up Management…Set Clear Expectations.” That is what can happen when you do set clear expectations. Let your sales people get to work and meet your expectations since they now know what is expected and what is important.