A great question to ask a sales managers is What do you ask your people to report to you? The answer reveals a great deal about what is important in that organization and how it is being communicated from top to bottom and from the bottom up.
But sometimes when I ask, I hear a troubling answer. It usually starts with the words, Well, we used to followed by some rationale for why the reporting process is no longer needed. It may be that the information is available in a new CRM system, or that someone else runs reports for everyone or that management just lost interest. Somehow the focus and the accountability are lost. The motivational power of a team bringing results to the table and saying heres what Ive accomplished is no longer available.
And sometimes I hear the philosophy of I dont need reports; all I need are the results. There are situations where that approach works well, but they are few. For the more complex technology sale, the sales cycle is long enough that we need some early indicator of how things are going, so that we can adjust our tactics before it is too late.
We ask for reports not only for the information but also for the focus they provide. If you want better focus and a clearer connection of effort to results, then try this:
- Choose one important activity and ask your team to report on this for the coming three months. Choose carefully, because you are making this one thing a top priority for your team. Perhaps it will be proposals written, demonstrations conducted or new product seminars presented. Whatever it is,
- Ask for the report weekly in an informal, convenient way.
- Respond to each person when they report their results.
- Send out a ranked list of the top producers each week, leaving the bottom performers off.
- For those who are having trouble, find out why and offer to provide help.
- Ask those who excel to share their approaches with everyone else, rewarding them with recognition.
- If you are a manager of managers, then ask each of your reports to summarize the information coming from their team.
- And if you are fortunate enough to have a working CRM system, you can do all this more easily “in the system”.
Youll learn a lot with this simple exercise. Youll see how most people respond to clear direction
and also how some people resist any sort of change. You may start to discover which of your people have been getting good results through effective action
and which ones are just lucky.
After 3 to 6 months, youll be convinced of the value of the simple report, but youll probably want to change the focus for a while. Thats okay some organizations declare a new focus each quarter. Youll learn new lessons each time, and take progressive steps to toward making yours a team of top performers. Ive seen it work many times and it can work for you, too.
If you could use some help in setting this up then, just give us a call.
Technical Sales Consultants, LLC