Many owners of small businesses fall into the same trap–they hire sales people because of a compelling interview about the individual’s “sales prowess” and on day one they are given a Book of Lists from the Business Journal, introduced to the sales team and then the encouragement…“Go Get ‘Em Tiger!” Several months go by, and there’s very little sales activity, and the business owner has spent money, time and energy and gotten results that are far below expectations. They often find great difficulty in effectively managing a sales team.

The problem is that this type of management style is that it has no measurement for activity prior to the quotations/proposals/RFQ stage–so you’re well into the sales cycle before any corrective action can take place. (And in fact, it’s really no management style at all–but that’s another post).

The solution to this problem is to build reporting into the stages from the time that a target is deemed a “suspect” to the point that it can be closed. (Coffee is for closers).

But I hear you saying, “selling is a numbers game” right?

In reality, it’s not the raw number of calls, presentations, proposals and closes–It’s the quality of the targets, the sales skills sets (or lack of) in each of the Stages. Every great sales team has defined stages and accountability metrics–and that’s where the numbers game really applies.

When you look at the following, notice that there are activities, disciplines, skills and behaviors that are unique between the steps:

Typical Pipeline Stages and Associated Discipline
1. Suspect – Qualification through a Defined Funnel.
2. Qualified Prospect – Ranking A-B-C-D. and Confirming
3. Introduction –Appointment Setting – Objection Handling – Value Proposition Positioning.
4. Appointment – Presentation – Value Qualification – Probing for Pain – Trial Closing – Building Consensus
5. Action – Relationship Building, Value Building and Confirmation.
6. RFQ – Proposal Building, ROI Statements and Pricing Strategy.
7. Closing – Culmination on confirmation of Trail Closing in previous Stages.
8. Maturity – Building a Valued and High Margin Customer.

When you are able to measure the activity between each stage you have an average. (i.e Introduction Call to set Appointment = 40%.)

With this information you can manage each member of your team effectively, provide specific training (corrective action) in areas where they are weak, encourage an upward goal for continuous improvement and identify tools, content and training that adds value to their efforts and ultimately your bottom line. The bottom line.. you are now effectively managing the sales team.

Anything less is a waste of time and money–but as an entrepreneur, you’ve got plenty of both, right?

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Bob Davis is the principle of simple.sales strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training, sales strategy and structure while holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com