2021 is a year of possibility, but sales leaders must harness the energy and focus of their people to maximize their results. While this may appear overly simplistic, there are four components that are GUARANTEED to create results. If you go “back to basics” you will immediately see a maximum use of time placed against the highest yielding sales activity.
Let’s take a look at Vince Lombardi, a coaching legend for the Green Bay Packers in American Football. He may be one of the most quoted coaches of all time. This specific quote speaks directly to the heart of the challenge. Once, after his team was badly beaten in a game, he gathered his team around him and said…
“Gentlemen, this is a football.”
In five words, he communicated his point: if you want to be successful, we are going to remember the basics and make sure we are executing the fundamentals extremely well. This will always create returns greater than trying more sophisticated approaches in an undisciplined, ungoverned manner. ALWAYS.
So, what are the basics?
1. Establishing the Mindset
You have a group of individuals that need to perform as a team. You are responsible for creating the culture of your team. Remember this phrase, “the speed of the leader is the speed of the team!” Do they have the desire and the will to win? Have they taken responsibility for their own success? Are they willing to do what it takes to be exceptional? What are your expectations? What do you reward and recognize? What competencies and behaviors are most valuable? What goals have they established? On average, only 40% of a sales team or organization achieve or exceed their assigned plans. Establishing the mindset and properly equipping your team to win is essential for sustained excellence. Once you have that, you can move to the second basic. Be constantly vigilant of your people’s mindset. Being average is unsustainable. If your team expects and embraces average, neither you nor your team will achieve your goals.
Basic #2 is metrics. Work the numbers backwards. What are the most important numbers to achieve? How does that break down by quarter, month, week, and day? It is the small things that matter. If you take care of them, the big things take care of themselves. What is the win rate? How much needs to be in the pipeline? How are you qualifying? What are your standards? What is the average proposal size? How many executive demand creation discussions must each person have per quarter, month, and week? By the way – pipeline numbers are extremely inaccurate. It is not about the quantity but rather about the quality. You must effectively communicate what the smaller numbers and expectation are in effort to achieve the larger numbers. Be careful though. This is NOT about becoming a micro-manager and someone who makes salespeople’s lives miserable. That would be a disaster. Instead, think of yourself as an internal consultant to your team. They are your clients, and your role is to improve their business with a vested interest in their success. Another way to think about it is that your salespeople are “franchisees” of your “franchise.” How would you help them if that were indeed the case?
Basic #3 is activity. This might sound too basic, but it IS a fundamental truth. Intelligent activity will always be rewarded. The goal is to maximize the time in front of prospects and clients. Estimates of salespeople’s selling time range from 30-50%! This is unacceptable. Organizations create tasks, information requests, reporting requirements, and other non-essential burdens, without understanding how it cumulatively affects the amount of time a salesperson can devote to their key responsibility – SELLING! As a leader, you need to increase client / prospect time while protecting your people from well-intentioned, but misguided, and unproductive demands. Do this and watch productivity rise! Your salespeople will love you for it and your results will speak for themselves.
The fourth and final basic is coaching. Everyone needs a good coach. Elite athletes, business leaders, and any professionals committed to excellence have coaches. Every world class sales leader is first a world class teacher and coach. Your people may not say it, but they value coaching and would welcome more of your time, experience, insight, and guidance. They DON’T want more inspections, criticism, and reviews. Invest the time to learn how to improve your coaching. You are there to help your people overcome obstacles, chart new strategies and tactics, and find creative ways to improvise, adapt, and overcome. A coach is a catalyst and a multiplier. Take a personal inventory of where you are investing YOUR time. Are you investing in your people or in areas that have diminished returns? It is estimated that 40% of your time should be invested in coaching your people – this is a basic requirement! Many sales leaders balk at that level of time investment. Remember, if you are asking your people to return to the basics – you must lead by example!
Begin your journey to mastering the basics by determining how you can increase the amount of time you invest coaching your people. Immediately set aside time to review how you intend to establish the team mindset, metrics, activity levels, and coaching. Develop your plan and execute!