Sales can sometimes feel like the race between the Tortoise and the Hare as in Aesop’s famous fable. Sales reps have to move fast to close deals this month, but they also have to be aware of long-term strategic goals. The best sales reps are able to find the right balance between the speed of the Hare and the focus of the Tortoise, so they can cross the finish line with ease.
As a sales manager, you know that tomorrow’s productivity and output depends on today’s activities from your sales team. Your goal as a sales manager is to keep sales rep output high at all times, while ensuring those activities will lead to results (aka Closed-Won Deals). Here’s how you can help your team find the right balance between closing today’s deals fast while also working tomorrow’s opportunities for long-term payoff.
Whether your team of reps is cold calling or closing deals, it can sometimes be tough to stay motivated and high-energy every single day. Though you’ve set high activity goals for every rep, your team may not always be able to meet those numbers. If a few reps seem sleepy or slow today, it’s your job to help push them to keep dialing and working at peak capacity. One way to improve output is to set up sales contents, SPIFFs or other rewards for the highest performer on your team. You can take the winning rep out to lunch, or buy them a bottle of wine – whatever you think will be an exciting prize for your reps. Play some great sales music to pump up your team, and make sure you’re there in the trenches working the long hours with them, side by side. This will help ensure your team keeps up their activity levels every day, always pushing to do more and surpass their daily goals.
Work for the Future
While reps have to work hard every day, they also have to keep an eye on their long-term goals. Your team can’t afford to mess up results next quarter just so you can hit your number this quarter. There are many ways that salespeople shoot themselves in the foot, often without thinking it through. One common method is giving fire sale discounts at the end of a period in order to reach this month’s goal. The deal one rep just closed by offering a huge discount is not buying next quarter for the full price – thus hurting the business overall. You need to create a system where your sales reps are educated on the effects of their short term activities and how they relate to the longer term results. While reps have to be making calls today and closing deals for this month, they also can’t forget to fill the pipeline with opportunities for next quarter. You have to make sure your team is doing those activities that will lead to success both now and next quarter.
Sales reps are logical people, and one way to enforce both short-term and long-term goals is to clearly explain the benefits of the sales activities. For new sales reps at InsightSquared, we get them to use analytics on Day 1. We show them our Pipeline Today report and ask, “Do you have enough pipeline today to hit your number next quarter?” That immediately prompts the question, if I don’t have enough pipeline, what do I need to do today to prepare myself for success? We use metrics and KPIs to manage those goals. We compare their performance and activities transparently against everyone else on the team. It’s totally on them whether they hit both their activity numbers and their long-term goals. If you’re an Account Executive, for example, we’re expecting 20 calls a day, and two calls exceeding 2 hours of talk time. If everyone but you is at that level and you’re not hitting your goals, we can only ask, what are you doing with your time? Education is a huge component to getting salespeople understanding what it means to have a high output.
Keep Things Interesting
With this balance of immediate and long-term sales activities often comes variety, which can also help your sales team stay motivated and high functioning. The activities you do for a deal that is going to close in 6 months are very different than the activities you’re doing to finalize a deal tomorrow. Human beings – especially smart ones like those on your team – need variety in their lives. Now that your reps know next month’s output depends on this month’s activities, they’ll start preparing for the future for an hour each day. You should help them build a monthly cadence, so the last two weeks of the month are very intensely focused on trying to close deals this month.
Don’t let your sales reps get halfway to the finish line, only to take a nap and miss their goal. You can help your team work fast, work hard, and keep their output both high and high quality at all times. Your sales reps can combine the best elements of the Tortoise and the Hare.