I’ve been a part of many sales teams in my career, and over and over I’ve noticed five common afflictions that affect them, each of which reduces morale and sales performance. They can be found to some degree in most almost every organisation. Smart management teams are aware of these afflictions and work to avoid their potentially destructive impact. Any one occurrence of these problems will not necessary hurt the sales effort, but if allowed to progress to extremes, or if multiple conditions exist at once, they can be extremely harmful.
Affliction 1: Wasting sales representatives’ time
One of the prime afflictions of sales teams is forcing them to spend time on non-sales tasks, for example making accounts receivable collections, managing product recalls or filling out reports that do not directly relate to the sales process. Non-sales management often requests that reps perform these tasks, but great care should be taken before delegating them to valuable salespeople. If you, for instance, divert five percent of a sales team’s time to managing customer collections, you effectively reduce the number of feet on the ground by the same amount—and the reverse is true as well. Sometimes it’s necessary to assign non-sales tasks to salespeople, but before this is done it’s worthwhile to audit a company’s sales process to determine whether they could be assigned elsewhere. Finding as many ways as possible to remove unnecessary tasks from the sales team’s shoulders will result in sales increases that will more than pay for the adjustments in duties.
Affliction 2: Poor sales meetings
Another affliction of sales teams is poor or boring sales meetings. The objective of any sales meeting should be to increase sales—period. Every high-performing salesperson who attends a meeting will be thinking: “Is this meeting making me money, or is my time being wasted?” Powerful salespeople are self-motivated and they intuitively know if their time is being wasted. If it is, management is hurting sales and morale. Wasteful or unnecessary meetings also send a clear message that management doesn’t know what needs to be accomplished to increase sales—and no good salesperson will have confidence in that type of leadership. The simple way to ensure effective sales meetings is to develop a statement of strategic intent that includes clear success metrics. This statement will define in specific terms what needs to be accomplished and the metrics needed to determine whether the goals set in the meeting were accomplished. It takes a deep understanding of the business, the market, and the competition to write an effective statement of strategic intent, and managers who can’t write them need a better understanding of the business. The bottom line is that powerful sales meetings produce sales and keep morale high.