Peak selling season is upon us. Do sales leaders have the strategy to get the most from it?
A lot of new sales leaders in the D2D industry are successful reps and field managers who have steadily worked their way up the company ladder. Most of them have found success in the field because of their confidence, optimism, personality, and endurance. They’re typically good on the porch, too, and understand what it takes to handle an area and a conversation. These are all great attributes, of course, and they have some benefit when a salesperson is making the transition to sales leader or VP of sales. Unfortunately, these positions require a lot more, and all-star reps are often unprepared for the job’s demands.
In fact, studies have found that “72% of new sales leaders in our sample arrive in a company with no defined sales strategy.” Instead, these leaders often fall back on their previous sales experience and end up trusting their gut or trying to come up with quick patchwork solutions that don’t address the roots of the problem and create new problems altogether. As a result, the turnover for these positions is extremely high and “no other member of the executive suite fails as often as the sales leader.”
Why are these leaders failing so often? Because they don’t have a defined sales process or analytics system. They’re overconfident in the ability of individual salespeople, they’re building off of previous door-knocking success, and they’re basically winging it because hey, they’ve sold a lot.
How do you get out of this mode? By creating a plan that addresses the real problems:
Step 1. Build a top-level sales process.
You need to be planning and tracking the sequence of events that takes someone from being a prospect to a customer. You need a sales process that is trainable and measurable while also being adaptable to different areas and scenarios.
This sales process will act as the framework for almost all of your data gathering, which is the most crucial part of your growth. Here’s a door-to-door sales example: say your reps are making a lot of contacts at the door but struggle to close in the house.
Since you have a set sales process that defined those steps, and since you are collecting rep performance data, now you know what you have to do to get better. If you didn’t have those things, you might think they’re struggling with a different part of the sales process and try and solve the wrong problem.
Have you mapped out the key stages of this process? Do you collect data on those stages? Do you have strategies for improving each of these stages?
Step 2. Reinforce your process with sales-specific technology.
This includes effectively rolling out sales software that is mobile-ready and specific to the needs of a door-to-door or field sales company. This means territory management, geographically-based lead tracking, real-time communication, and compatibility with the custom data reporting that adapts to your sales process.
Step 3. Build a library of top training materials
What are you doing to build knowledge for your reps and managers? What training resources do you have? What tools are you providing your salespeople with for when they’re in the field? This is especially important for companies with seasonal hiring patterns, since you want to give new employees every chance to learn and succeed quickly.
You need to have enough content and materials to reinforce the pillars of your sales process. This content needs to be scalable, repeatable, and trainable. Create video walkthroughs or whiteboard presentations about key parts of the sales process and rep success. Continue to create content that addresses specific company needs as they arise.
You also need to help individual reps develop a strategic approach to their work. Like the eager yet inexperienced sales leader, it doesn’t matter how motivated a rep is if they’re going to approach their work without a plan. A lot of very motivated reps like to go on the attack and knock a lot of doors, but that will not produce results if they aren’t speaking to the people on the other side of those doors.
Make sure your sales processes and trainings encourage a strategic approach to the field that is, like the larger company processes, based on data that is being constantly gathered, adjusted, and refined.
Want to learn more?
Check out the full piece and learn more about outside sales leadership.