Someone sent me a question asking about the best way to remove himself from sales and get his sales team to pick up the slack and increase their need to close sales. At the same time someone else is asking about creating a new position of sales manager. Both questions end up with a lot of the same answers that I think a lot of you end up having issues with. We end up with a lot of horror stories of unsuccessful sales managers and bad or no sales managing. We are strong proponents of performance based pay (yes that is commission) but it is a mistake to think that PFP is sales managing as it is only a small piece of it.
We have people that have their primary purpose in the company being the sale of parts. We do a lot of things to assist as far as yard management systems, transportation and parts trading networks and electronic display of our inventory in a multitude of places but we need the salespeople to sell.
We need the salespeople to look at each request to determine when the sale will happen. If it is at that moment then they need to close that sale. It they are not prepared to purchase at that moment they are a lead and need to be followed up with. The ability to determine the difference between a sale and a lead will make all of the difference in the ability for any salesperson to continually grow their sales.
Profit Team Consulting teaches a simple 7 step process that walks the customer to the sale. In the end the key to it is the ability to ask for and get the sale. Following a consistent script is part of most all effective sales training programs. Selling used parts is not any different. Each salesperson needs a specific volume of activity to produce a specific sales result. The fewer requests needed to produce high sales equates to better ability to process the request into a sale than someone else. It is our goal to get our sales staff populated with people who can do that and constantly strive to improve the performance of each person on the team. The goal of a sales manager is to figure out how to reduce the amount of request activity a person needs to increase their sales. In other words, better closing ability.
There are countless books that discuss selling and sales management to death but at the end of the day somebody in each of our companies must take responsibility for the sales department and manage them. Unless you have more than 8 salespeople that person is not dedicated to managing the salespeople. Back to the original question of how do you remove yourself from selling while still getting maximum results from the sales team.
First, you need to understand that like each person needs a specific volume of activity to sell, they also require a specific amount of attention. Some need very little and others so to be a full time babysitting job. As the sales manager or sales leader you need to give the attention each needs and make the most of the amount of time you have to spend with each of them. We tend to have sales meetings that turn into more of a beating than constructive improvement and accomplishing the goals we have been tasked with.
Each person needs to work on different things and the only way to know what they need to improve upon is by knowing and understanding your numbers. We also need to understand that there are 3 ways to show/demonstrate/teach/motivate and a variety of other things.
- Visual – some people have to see it to understand and believe in it
- Verbal – some people can hear it and visualize/grasp it
- Physical – some people have to actually do it to understand and believe in it.
You need to know your sales team and be able to explain the numbers in all 3 of these ways in order to make sure they understand what it is you are asking of them. After all if you do not explain to them what the goal and expectations are how do you expect them to meet them?
We also need to keep in mind that the overwhelming percentage of the time we are not able to supply the requested part or parts.
This is very deflating to a salesperson so continually pointing out the good that is happening is a vital part of keeping a motivated sales team in place.
Playing games / having sale contests is also very important in keeping people working in the direction you want them to work. You need to be creative so that the same person does not always win. Changing a contest from the most to the biggest improvement almost always guaranties a different winner.
Reviewing their quotes is also a great place to find areas that they did not discount when they could have. Following up on sold parts is a great way to sell additional warranties and build a customer following. This is a fancy way of saying outbound phone calls.
You need to have someone pay attention to sales and if you decide that is a dedicated sales manager, that person needs to increase the company sales by enough to cover their salary. This is a tall task to do and the primary reason you see so many unsuccessful attempts at adding a sales manager. All of us can do a little better with what we are currently doing if we have some type of plan to improve the sales team performance.
Profit is made by being efficient but the whole process starts with sales and it is an area that each of us can improve by getting a little better with our closing skills.
Mike Kunkel Bill Stevens
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