In Part II, I’ll focus on the people factor and developing a sales team cadence of engagement that builds accountability and results. There are a number of elements involved in developing a regular and reinforcing rhythm of events to refocus every member of your sales team on what needs to be done and when.
Pipeline and forecast reviews provide regular touch points to track the progress of opportunities in the pipeline, improving the accuracy of forecasts. As a sales leader, these reviews offer the chance to assess how well your people are performing, their strengths and skill gaps, along with the ability to coach in the moment as deals move or get delayed in the pipeline. Additionally, such reviews allow you as the leader to hold your people accountable by setting the right expectations around forecasting.
Individual development planning sessions are a natural extension of annual development plans that should be developed collaboratively between sales leaders and their direct reports, although such development should ultimately be owned by the sales professionals themselves. They are the ones who should be responsible and accountable for their own professional development, proactively identifying what they want to focus on in the year ahead. With that broader goal defined, sales leaders can then plan specific content, activities, and training sessions to support development in those focus areas, along with target completion dates throughout the year. It doesn’t matter if sales professionals are recent recruits or have many years in the business; there are always new things to focus on, from new product offerings to technology advances to additional or honed skills. Individual development planning sessions are critical for elevating the skill set of the entire team and improving your client’s experience.
Team meetings are part of a consistent and collaborative communication platform in which your team can share success stories, case studies, and challenges faced. You can bring in subject-matter experts to speak to specific areas or solutions to create awareness and impart knowledge that aligns with your team’s key focus areas. Meetings are also an opportunity to build esprit de corps and to recognize achievement, both in terms of business results and the individual accomplishments of sales professionals. Even small accomplishments can be worth recognizing, as the right behaviors are reinforced and others can see such efforts are valued. This type of recognition fuels the right consistent behavior and drives long-term results. It shows how you as a manager sincerely appreciate the work that is needed on the front end, while also reinforcing your key strategies in driving robust and effective client engagement, which will, in turn, lead to the results desired.
Recruiting and staffing is an important consideration, whether adding bench strength or initiating engagement with potential candidates. There should be a forum among sales managers to collectively share information about possible hires and high-potential employees. By having such a talent framework in place, you might be able to find a new role for someone ready to take that next step, even if it’s with another sales leader. Sharing information and perspectives about talent can make your organization as strong as it can be, adding bench strength and bringing on board individuals with the right skills and experiences.
Each component should be executed through a phased approach that is mapped out on a monthly basis, allocating sufficient time and target dates throughout the year. By doing this, consistency is reinforced, and everyone knows what to expect and when.
In my next post, the last in this three-part series on the sales management process, I’ll cover the necessary element of communicating upward by scheduling one-on-one reviews with senior leaders.