We spend a great deal of time meeting Sales Leaders and understanding the idiosyncrasies of their sales teams and their leadership styles.
The challenges they face may be similar but as humans we are unique and therefore their approach and thoughts can differ enormously.
We recently met with Dave Serif, Director Whitecroft Lighting who shared his thoughts on being a sales leader.
What are the most important values you demonstrate as a sales leader?
I often describe my office as a “Doctors Surgery” where I make time to listen, ask lots of questions, challenge and offer advice on how to improve outcomes.
How often do you ride along with your team members?
Not often enough. As you progress higher in a sales organisation you get dragged more and more into head office meetings. It is important that you make time for your team and your customers. The insight you get from this interaction is invaluable in shaping the future direction and strategy of your sales organisation.
How do you gain feedback from clients about the sales relationship?
We occasionally conduct a market survey (normally at the beginning of a 5 year strategy cycle) outside of that I rely on my own customer interaction which is in-frequent and also anecdotal feedback from our sales force.
How do you provide motivation for your team?
SHOCK HORROR. Not all sales people are motivated by money! Some need to be told that are doing a good job, some want to know their voice is heard and some are motivated by learning and progression within a business. Therefore, it is important to tailor learning and benefit packages around the individual.
Research suggest 66% of a salespersons time is not spent selling. Do you accurately know how much time your team is spent selling?
Like most sales leaders I am frustrated by the lack of quality reliable call reporting that I get from our CRM system. We are reliant on the salespeople (who are not the best at admin tasks) to log and connect their calls to the appropriate customer or opportunity. This often happens a long time after the event and sometimes not at all. We recently conducted a field base sales activity log with a sample group of sales people and the results were startling. It proved (what we suspected was true) that our sales people are spending nowhere near enough time with our customers (1.2 calls per day on average) and 60% of then do not make any calls on a Monday or Friday! This revelation has led us to conduct a comprehensive analysis of non-selling activities and put in a plan to increase customer face time. If I could get accurate call data on a regular basis it would allow me to model best practise and quickly identify underperformers.
Apart from target attainment, what other ways do you measure sales person success?
Pipeline management and forecast accuracy.
Is competition among a team healthy? Why or why not? And How do you create that?
From my experience whilst there may be many different ways to motivate a salesperson (as described above) most sales people are focused on their own individual performance. Therefore, competition between sales teams is rarely successful and can be unhealthy. (you should focus on beating the competition not other teams within your business.) Competition within a sales team is a useful and valid tool to encourage high performance. This healthy competition is created by the sales managers and the goals are set and rewarded locally.
How do you provide for coaching and development of your sales team?
All coaching is done in the field by the sales management team. Knowing what the specific skill gaps are is the real challenge.
How do you provide feedback to your team?
Regular one to one reviews.
What is the most important activity a salesperson can do daily and how do you measure that?
Communication (not sure how to measure this but hope you can help!)