Contemporary Analysis: Focusing New Salespeople
New salespeople often struggle to focus on the right opportunities, and this often keeps them from meeting their quotas or closing unprofitable deals. However, new salespeople should not be faulted for their lack of focus, because generating an ever increasing number of opportunities is an essential responsibility of a salesperson. It is up to sales managers to focus their teams on the right deals. At CAN we use the following techniques to focus our inexperienced salespeople so they start closing the right deals as quickly as possible.
Focus on a Lead Product
Most companies have multiple products, and effective salespeople always lead with one product. They know that when meeting new people that they do not have time or the customer’s focus to explain each product. Without a lead product it is easy for inexperienced salespeople to come across as confused or under trained. We recommend having each new recruit select a lead product that they are most interested in or most experienced with. This will reduce training time, simplify introductions and increase confidence.
Once salespeople have a lead product that they can use when meeting new prospects, the next step is to develop a profile that they can use to qualify prospective clients. For your profile to be effective it needs to reflect reality and then used to approve only deals that fit the profile. The simplest way to make sure that you client profile reflects reality is to describe your last 5 closed deals that were profitable, loyal and active.
It is important to force salespeople to be realistic about the quality of the opportunities in their pipeline. Each sales person at CAN has to explain a prospects need, willingness and resources before an opportunity is added to the sales pipeline. Also, every 2 weeks the CAN sales team gets together to review current, lost and closed opportunities. Our discussion focuses primarily on what actions each person needs to take to make sure they meet their quota, what sources and tools people are using to find opportunities, and how opportunities are changing based on changes in season or economics. At the conclusion of each meeting, the goal is to make sure that each salesperson has a plan for the next 2 weeks that will help them make sure they meet their quota.
Your incentive structure is essential to focusing your team because salespeople respond well to incentives. The best method I have found to design a sales incentive plan has been to describe my desired client experience from first encounter to close, and design my incentive structure accordingly. For example I would increase base salary if I wanted a more consultative sale instead of a commodity style sale.
It is important to review relationships with your people, and one of the most interesting tools that I have used is to setup specific terms with milestones. Each term at CAN is 1 month, but that should vary depending on the natural metronome of your organization. The purpose of the terms is to have evaluate whether or not the relationship should continue. It is important that this be a two way process. You want to judge whether your salesperson is worth the continued investment, and also whether your salesperson could produce more value somewhere else in or outside the organization.