Generate 20% More Sales?

The past year was very challenging for many sales managers and we need to look ahead. Have you increased your sales targets? How will you ensure that your team delivers the goods?

From a personal perspective in leading sales forces and working with sales leaders, I’ve seen that too many sales organizations operate well below their potential. The regions that do the best are ones that are led by STAR frontline sales managers. Studies show that:

• The No. 1 performance factor for salespeople is the quality of their manager. A high-quality manager has far greater impact than skills training or compensation, according to CEOs across the globe.

• The No. 1 manager activity associated with rep success is coaching. It is the single most impactful activity that frontline sales managers perform. Studies show that effective coaching can raise sales performance by as much as 20%!

• The No. 1 reason why top-performing sales reps leave an organization is their relationship – or the lack of it — with their manager. Great frontline sales managers do a far better job retaining top-performing salespeople.

Sales managers need to ask themselves the following questions:

• Are you convinced that you are the key to unlocking the performance of your teams?
• Do you know what STAR sales managers do differently?
• What do STAR sales managers have in common? What are the factors that make them more successful than their competitive peers?

For me the short answer is focus. STAR sales managers focus more on key activities that drive sales performance. STAR sales managers that are strong coaches and spend more time coaching their reps to improve performance. STAR coaches focus on one key area at a time, e.g. skill, competency or behaviour, for each of their salespeople. They maintain that focus on a specific skill until there is a marked improvement. Not until the sales rep demonstrates an 8 or 9 out of 10 in that specific competency will the sales manager shift the coaching focus to a new area.

Without a doubt, STAR sales managers spend more time coaching than their counterparts for two reasons. First, they realise they get their biggest ROI on time spent when coaching and second, they are good at it. Sales managers who are STAR coaches and enjoy seeing their reps develop will naturally spend more time coaching. And the evidence supports the fact that sales reps who receive more coaching achieve higher levels of engagement and realize better sales quotas than their counterparts who receive less coaching.

Managers who want to be STARS should understand that the quantity and quality of coaching will have a major impact on their sales results. You can be the driver of your own success.

With so many competing responsibilities for managers, it is critical that more time is spent on activities/tasks that drive sales. STAR managers spend a greater portion of their time interacting with customers. It is not the manager’s role to complete the sale but instead to focus on supporting his or her salespeople through the selling process. Managers who provide that support will deliver far better results overall.

On the flip side, average managers spend a greater proportion of their time on non-revenue generating activities. Average sales managers manage from the comfort of their office. They are focused on administrative work, approving proposals and reviewing reps’ activities.

If you want to be a top 20% performer and generate 20% more sales in 2010, you need to focus your time and energy on supporting revenue-generating activities. The sales managers who decide they will spend more time coaching and less time pushing paper will be the ones who succeed. The choice is yours.

Wishing you STAR Results!