5 Difficult Questions You Need to Ask About Your Sales Team
If you had the opportunity to really study your sales organization - to take a very diagnostic look at the people, systems and strategies that impact sales;
- What questions would you ask?
- What are the most frustrating, difficult, drive-you-absolutely-nuts questions about your sales team or business development group that you would want to know?
- What would you do with the answers?
- How would you leverage that information to turn things around and start growing massive revenue?
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5 important questions for you
Many of the CEOs, Presidents, and Business Owners we talk with have a very general sense and a surface-level understanding of what might be holding their sales team back. And they will readily express their frustration. But when asked to be a more precise, to pinpoint exactly where their concerns are with their sales team, most just shrug their shoulders and say
"I don't know exactly, that's why I called you!"
Without having a conversation and asking you a lot of questions about your current circumstances, it is impossible for me to guess which questions would be the most important for you to understand. That said, I'll make a guess by sharing these five (5) questions we commonly see when talking with frustrated CEOs, Presidents, and Business Owners.
1. Do we have the right people on our sales team?
Teams tend to evolve over time. People are hired because they seem like a good fit and they were available at the time you were hiring. Or they worked at a competitor and they appear to know your industry. Or they were on the sales team of a company you acquired and it didn't make sense to let them go. Or they are a good friend's son or daughter who recently graduated from college, needed a job, and interviewed well.
There are are all sorts of reasons why we add people to the team - and usually what we see is a hodge podge of random hiring decisions made at different points in time for different reasons with different considerations and goals for making each hire. Rarely is there a consistent, systematic, disciplined hiring strategy with focus and clarity around the type of person you need, the experience they MUST have, the skills they need to succeed, and much more. Do you have such a system in place or have you assembled a hodge podge team?
2. Are our people doing the right things?
We know there are specific activities every sales person and sales manager should do every day, every week, and every month. And we know that team members did these activities with a consistent focus and discipline, massive results would follow. And you probably already know what these activities are for your company. And yet, your sales team still does not do them. Or at least they don't do them consistently. How much time are they spending in sales conversations every week? Are they talking to the right people or did they settle for the person they could reach? Are they asking the right questions or are they asking the safe questions where feel most comfortable?
3. Are our sales managers doing everything they can to drive business growth?
Sales managers have tremendous power and influence. Effective sales managers hold people accountable, ask great questions, coach consistently and effectively, grow the team and hire sales people who are stronger than they are. Yet they still feel comfortable coaching stronger sales people, raising expectations and helping them succeed. Great sales managers can be worth their weight in gold. And yet, great sales managers are extraordinarily rare and difficult to find.
How are your sales managers doing?
Are they effective coaches or do they just muddle through? Do they recruit the right people to build the team or are they selecting people who are weaker than they are so they don't feel threatened? Are they raising expectations and then giving the support their team needs to crush their goals or are they just going with the flow?
4. Are we tracking the right stuff?
Too often CEOs, Presidents and Business Owners focus like a laser beam on one statistic and one statistic only - sales growth. If sales are growing, the team is fine. If sales are stalled or declining, look out! Looking at sales results and monitoring revenue growth is obviously important, particularly when communicating with outside parties (your bank, your investors, potential business partners, etc.).
For an internal focus we recommend tracking activities rather than results. Pick a handful of activities that, when done with consistent focus and discipline, will drive the results you want. Measure them. Track them frequently. Use them to hold people accountable. Do not let up. If having every sales person make a minimum of 10 prospecting calls every day will drive the results you need, track it. If having every sales person generate two quality referrals every week will drive the results you need, track it. Whatever your key activites might be, find them, track them and hold your people accountable to hitting them consistently.
5. How much revenue have we lost by not addressing these issues with our sales team?
Ignoring a problem isn't going to make it go away. Getting the right people, focused on the right things, with the right sales coaching and leadership, and tracking the right activities can make a massive difference on your sales growth. Even nailing down three out of the five can have a big impact. What are you doing this quarter to address the issues in your sales organization? Where will you focus first? What will have the greatest impact and biggest return for your effort? What will it cost you this quarter in terms of lost sales if you wait? And if you are on plan or ahead of plan, what would focusing on these issues do in terms of generating even more revenue?
These are just a handful of the questions we help our clients understand. If you would like to learn more about how you can take an x-ray of your sales team so you know exactly where to focus your time, energy and team investments, let's schedule a brief phone conversation or meet for a cup of coffee to figure it out.