Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Building a Sales Environment

I find that to build a sales culture it is important to establish some basic parameters going in to the situation.

  1. It starts with the senior sales manager; the sales manager needs to be engaged in the overall sales process, top to bottom and at every point of contact with the prospect.
  2. Establish clearly that you are looking for challenges to resolve, not people to blame.
  3. Empower everyone to make decisions that support the customer.
  4. Clearly define tasks for every position on the sales team, establish “Rules of Engagement” that clearly identify responsibility for handoffs, and the “Sales Bill of Materials” for that handoff to occur.
  5. Establish that policy and coaching will come from the appropriate supervisor; there will be no word of mouth coaching.
  6. Train department (sales and product skills) so everyone knows and speaks the same language.
  7. Have compensation plans that are straight forward and provide an opportunity for success. Respect the intelligence of your sales people and if their plan is capped tell them in plain speak how the plan functions. No phrases such as, “We are interested in your success as a salesperson, so we are capping the plan at 130%.”
  8. Talk up the success of individuals and teams on the sales force, catch people doing the right thing and then spread the word.
  9. Never criticize anyone in a group, if criticism is needed as part of coaching then do it face-to-face.
  10. Recognize that sales people fail for three reasons: you as a manager have not provided them with the tools, training, support and coaching to be a success, the company has not provided them with the tools for success or they are not well suited to the requirements for the job. Look for solutions to people challenges before they become people problems.
  11. Support your sales team when they need to be supported.
  12. Have a laser focus on what your customer requirements are and how what you sell addresses those requirements.
  13. Never mistake activity for progress.

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