5 Tips for Sales Managers for Q1

It is the start of a new business year and a good idea to first reflect back on the past year, before looking forward to 2013. In my experience, it is important to know exactly how my business performed during the past business year, where I need to make changes and to know how I can implement these changes more effectively, starting off with Q1. I usually start off by asking myself the following:

“How can I beat my competitors during Q1?”

Many quarterly successes come down to landing a couple of big deals, but how do I make sure that my sales team does not lose any of the big deals to the competition? I look at my sales managers first, because they need to provide my sales team with the proper tools to ensure success. It is imperative to ensure that the sales team manages their sales pipeline with the help of a straightforward CRM base.

1. Ensure a highly active recruiting plan

I make sure that I know what my average transaction values are, in comparison to my monthly or yearly sales objectives. It is important to ask the following question early on:

“Do I have enough quality salespeople in my sales team that could reach my monthly sales objectives?”

My sales managers have to know what my sales forecast is for 90 to 120 days out, as well as understand what the manpower requirements for the business are. Recruiting is the sales manager’s marketing campaign for those all important sales leads, which produces sales in the end. To ensure that I exceed my initial sales goals, I need to build a highly active recruitment program that will ensure that I have the correct sort of talent in place.

2. Be aware of the pipeline metrics

It is crucial for any business owner to know the precise value of the business pipeline from 90 to 120 days out. So it’s also important to ask the following question:

“Do I have sufficient opportunities in numbers, as well as value to reach my approaching monthly quota?”

If the answer to the above question is no, then my sales team has to determine what can be done to ensure that we build up our pipeline values, which will ensure that we have sufficient opportunities to help us reach our monthly sales goals.

3. Ask big questions to obtain the right data

Having good data is crucial and can change who, when, why and how we engage our customers. With the correct data, we are able to reach the right type of customers with the perfect message and the ideal offer, at the correct time to make the sale. Alternately, having a lot of data is worthless if we fail to obtain actionable insight by asking the right questions of our data. In essence, the right questions lead to collecting the right metrics, which then leads to asking better questions.

Here’s an easy example: The first big question to ask might be “where is the biggest weakness in my pipeline?” This can lead us to start tracking the conversion rate at each step in our sales process, leading us to create an accurate sales funnel model. Having this is a huge win, as it shows us where the weakness is. Then that leads to the next question: how do we improve this specific step? It’s a constant process of asking the right questions, getting the answers, and then asking more.

4. Ensure the sales team is well trained

A continuous focus on training my sales team is essential. If I as a business owner neglect to improve the skills of my sales team, it will be reflected in the end results. Sales skills need to be improved to ensure an increase in monthly and quarterly sales.

The following made a difference to my sales team:

– The sales manager makes additional sales calls with his or her team
– More role playing in all sales training meetings is important
– A quarterly skills evaluation process is built in for all salespeople
– A quarterly sales training program is being utilized

5. Sales managers should improve their professional business expertise

I find that the following will help most sales managers to be better leaders:

– Read the business sections of the local newspapers, business magazines, the Wall Street Journal and relevant online blogs and websites.
– Read at least three quality business books annually.
– Join a “peer group” where other likeminded sales managers can share how they increase their own leadership skills. This step could easily improve the sales manager’s ability to discuss new business trends with the sales team and prospects. Additionally, it will improve the sales manager’s management skills.

Following these tips is sure to improve the odds for success for any sales manager in the first quarter of this new business year, and it will help me to outperform my competitors too.

Looking to supercharge your sales team in the first quarter of 2013?