The 2nd half of the year is upon us and many organizations are close to falling behind their assigned sales plans. This is the time where leaders must take a step back and conduct an honest and objective evaluation of where they need to make adjustments.
Professional athletes and coaches understand that the game changes and evolves based on execution variance, competitive game plans, and environment. The game plan MUST be adjusted to incorporate these variables in order to achieve a win. Sales Leaders should take advantage of the same concept. Address the following four areas and take action.
- Separate Your “Players” into a Bell Curve Distribution—Once you have separated the sales team into the top and bottom 15%, focus on the middle-level performers. Managing the top performers is easy—keep them focused and motivated. Managing the bottom performers is a difficult emotional challenge, but the decision must be made to either invest in them or release them. Focusing on the middle performers and improving their performance will yield immediate results and build your team for the future.
- Conduct Funnel and Pipeline Reviews—There are two major challenges with salespeople and the funnel. 1) Filling the funnel with new opportunities. 2) Killing deals that are unqualified. If you can eliminate opportunities that will not generate business this ensures your sales team is focused only on qualified opportunities. You will not only increase your winning percentage but also free up valuable resources while accelerating results.
- Shift to Demand Creation—It is highly likely that once the unqualified opportunities are eliminated, there will be a shortage of deals that will lead to successful plan execution. The focus will have to shift to Demand Creation and to generating new business. Marketing can, and should, help with this, but the emphasis will be on prospecting and increasing the number of targeted discussions with key people. The goal needs to be 3X- 4X of the sales plan, both individually, and collectively, in the funnel.
- Make an Attack Plan—For many solutions organizations, the sales cycle is six months or longer. It is highly unlikely that you will make or exceed your goal on new opportunities being added to the funnel—most of what is added will come to fruition in 2018. Therefore, the attack plan must be to close a very high percentage of the opportunities in the existing pipeline. Target the top three opportunities from each salesperson’s pipeline and create a “Must Win” list. These opportunities should receive regular coaching, resources, executive involvement and adoption, and progress must be tracked. Once an opportunity has been won or lost, an additional opportunity should be added to the list.
These four tactics will allow you to create an objective view of your team’s performance and make the necessary adjustments that will help you achieve the assigned sales plan. Focusing on “People and Opportunities” will ensure that you have high caliber people and they are always focused on managing the Funnel and the Pipeline.
Establishing yourself as a consistent Sales Leader who achieves or exceeds year-end goals requires objectivity, patience, and an obsessive focus on the fundamentals. Taking an objective view of your team, competitors, market, and results will help you formulate a game plan. Do you have the right people? Are they focused on the right behaviors? What is the status of their personal funnel and pipelines? Have you addressed poor performance? Can you generate ideas from your top people to improve and become more effective as a team?