Managing a sales team is not easy. This team has the potential to make or break your business, and you have to tread carefully. (This does not mean you can be careless while engaging with other employees. But let’s face it: as business leaders, we’re often biased towards the sales team.)
In the ideal world, you would build a sales team, provide them with tools to bring business, and watch your sales figures and revenue inflate. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world where leaders must take concrete steps to make the sales team effective and accountable.
One of the concrete steps is a sales review meeting.
Are Sales Review Meetings Important?
In 1979, a passenger flight with 257 people took off from New Zealand for a sightseeing trip to Antarctica and back. The pilots stayed on course but were unaware that someone had altered their coordinates by just two degrees. This put the flight 28 miles east of its destination.
When the pilots descended to give passengers a view of the Antarctic landscape, they found themselves directly in the path of the active volcano Mount Erebus. The plane crashed, killing everyone on board.
What does this tragic story have to do with sales? Everything. Because small things, when not corrected early, become big things. Sales Review meetings or Sales Team meetings are one of the most important components of Sales Tracking.
Sales reps and managers are always busy. This means that while they work hard, they have no time to reflect on what they do and correct the course. They cannot review their successes and failures. As a result:
- Nobody can review the performance of the sales team or the business’ health.
- Nobody knows what’s working and what isn’t, and the business burns precious resources.
- Nobody can forecast sales, which lead to stress on salespeople and managers at the end of every quarter.
- Follow-ups with critical leads get missed resulting in loss of business opportunities.
- Nobody pays attention to the sales team’s actions, which lead to them cutting corners.
Can your business afford to suffer the consequences of these situations? I think not.
I can also hear you thinking that you’ve conducted sales reviews, but they didn’t lead to increased revenue and just ended up wasting your time.
You’re not wrong. Neither are you alone. Many small and medium enterprises (and large scale corporations) struggle to run productive sales review meetings. This is because they commit five mistakes over and over again.
Five Reasons Why Most Sales Reviews Meetings Fail
Reason #1. Focusing on the wrong metrics
It’s tempting for sales managers to discuss leaves, conveyance costs and other less relevant aspects during a sales review. The result is that they either spend barely any time talking important metrics as the sales funnel, prospecting and conversions and challenges or don’t discuss them at all. Thus, while conveyance costs might come down, sales figures don’t improve.
Reason #2. No sales team meeting agenda.
When you don’t know which direction to go in, any road seems acceptable. But you will not know whether you reached the right destination. A meeting without an agenda always ends up as a waste of time. Since people don’t know what to discuss, they end up focusing on irrelevant topics and burning company resources.
Reason #3. No consistency in meetings.
Many sales managers set a rule to have weekly meetings but cancel three of them in a month because they’re busy with other tasks. This sends out mixed signals to the salespeople that the manager is disinterested in his task. And if the leader is disinterested, can we expect the people following to be any different?
Reason #4. No clarity on measurable.
Many businesses deploy CRM software to track sales and customer data but don’t define what the statuses mean. Nor do they set rational goals based on historic data or share it with their people. This is why every person does things in their own way which leads to chaos that disrupts sales review meetings.
Reason #5. Managers highlight only problems.
During reviews, many managers tell their sales teams to pull up their socks and improve their performance. They threaten with consequences if this doesn’t happen. But they never address the problems and challenges because they believe in the flawed adage: “Come to me with solutions, not problems.”
If the sales team knew how to improve its performance, wouldn’t it do the needful already? And if they can solve their problems, why do we need managers?
Now let’s discuss what you can do as a leader to make your sales team effective through review meetings.
How to Conduct the Perfect Sales Team Meetings
Making productive sales review meetings is not easy. But if you focus on certain key aspects, it becomes simple enough to generate the results you expect.
Conducting sales reviews once a quarter or twice a year is as useful as one day of yoga. Decide the frequency of your reviews – weekly, biweekly, or monthly – and the format – one-on-one, bunched, or an entire team – and stick to it. You won’t see immediate results, but they will become visible within eight weeks.
Sales reviews should bring clarity for each action. For instance, the number of prospects met and deals closed are quantifiable. So is the number of opportunities in each stage of the sales funnel. To have this data, it should first be entered into the CRM software. The responsibility to ensure that this data is accurate and updated lies on the sales manager.
Sales managers shouldn’t just track whether the sales team is updating data accurately. They should also analyse the data regarding lead generation and closed deals (product and services wise, salesperson-wise, territory-wise, customer journey wise, etc.) and draw their conclusions. This enables them to be more specific in tracking relevant metrics that contribute to sales improvement.
Measure Lead Metrics
In their book The 4 Disciplines of Execution, the authors explain the difference between lead and lag metrics. According to them, lag metrics record what happened and describe what you’re trying to improve (number of deals closed, amount of revenue generated, receivables collected and so on).
Lead metrics influence change and measure behaviours that lead to success on the lag measures (number of appointments made, number of proposals sent, and so on). When managers focus on lead metrics as much as lag metrics, the more effective the sales team becomes.
Have an Action Plan
Once managers can track their people’s performance, they should build action plans specific to each member. This can include how to tackle obstacles, negotiate, or mark a deal as dead. But sales managers should avoid the temptation of jumping in and trying to solve the salesperson’s problems.
According to sales coach Dave Bailey, they should ask open-ended questions and listen. Don’t let sales reps amble for too long because they will start playing the blame game. Instead, eliminate excuses, encourage them to find their own solutions, and make it part of their action plan. Complement this with periodic training and support in all areas where you think your sales team needs help.
Identify Sales Training Required
If the proper analysis of Insights provided by CRM Dashboard, is done then the Sales Managers will be able to identify Training required for Sales Team.
Product Training is over-rated. I think we also need to consider the Proper Sales process Training for Team members. Bring the team together and let the team have a session of role play, where one plays the customer and other the seller and then see what happens. This exercise always has a great result in identifying future Sales Strategy.
Always review MOM of previous Week Meetings
In case you have weekly sales meetings Always analyse MOM of last meetings. Just talking about what needs to be done in coming days can be absolute time wasters in team meetings.
Businesses that focus on just the five points mentioned above report a huge spike in their quarterly and annual sales figures. Don’t you want the same?
Done right, sales reviews make salespeople stakeholders and improves their performance. The time and energy spent on this is not a waste, but the best investment you can make in your business if you really care about your business.
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