To achieve peak performance with your sales team you need to be consistent with team systems and processes and unique regarding individual relationships. All sales people are not the same but most sales people can perform above average with a manager that applies the right mix of consistency and a variation. This is why sales process management is as much about when to follow processes as it is about when to leave them.
To allow for effective coaching bring stability to the team by creating consistency in the following areas.
Compensation: I am a big fan of keeping compensation plans the same when building a sales team for longevity. Not saying everyone is paid the same salary, but the earning scales and bonuses should be the same. Use salary as a differentiator justified by experience or results. Commissions should reward the higher performers with higher percentages or bonuses. What does not work is setting up different sliding commission scales, pricing or ways to earn commission among different team members.
Support: Don’t play favorites; offer the same support to all salespeople from manager to support staff. The same support has nothing to do with the amount. That is dictated by sales volume. What I am saying is don’t make someone earn support, they need it to get their job done.
Processes and Systems: These are in place to support the company and the customer. Everyone needs to get their portion done. Don’t let higher performers get away with not doing their work. If their volume is high enough to warrant hiring additional support do it overtly so all can see what more profit can buy.
Expectations: If you expect less from one sales person you will no doubt receive your lower expectations. Keep quotas and goals consistent. Use your commission incentives to drive the higher performers. The time to increase a sales quota for one would be to justify a higher salary.
Tools: If one can benefit from a laptop or cell phone make sure they all have the same tools. Exceptions could be due to territory or market differences.
If you create a consistent playing field it makes coaching more effective and fun. Adapting and working with each person’s personality and motivations is what separates the great sales managers from the average. Here are examples of three different sales people and how you might approach each to improve sales.
Salesperson #1 is already very successful and producing very high. Don’t come in and push their activity up, ask them how you can help them do more of what they are doing. What road blocks can you remove for them to keep them running fast.
Salesperson #2 is a consistent producer but under achieves. He/She probably needs some positive reinforcement, some personal attention and a diagnostic on where they are losing most deals.
Salesperson #3 is a person who has a bunch of good ideas but can’t get their sales going. They probably need more structure and strict accountability at working the right activity to produce results. Give them clear direction in the morning and check on how things went at night.
Peak sales performance will not happen by approaching these three sales people the same way. It is the personal touch and savvy approach that will get the job done.