We are entering the 5th month of the year, meaning barely 60 days remain of the first half of 2011. Due to on-going, challenging economic conditions many companies continue finding sales cycles increasing. Truly qualified prospects are harder to find and the level of competition competing for these prospects is huge. Decisions that used to be made at the “C-Team” level may now need board approval.
What you do – or more importantly don’t do – over the next 60 days will determine whether 2011 is a success or a failure.
If your sales cycles measures in months rather than weeks or days, your actions to positively impact your qualified sales opportunities over these upcoming two months is key to a winning year.
Below are some key steps that will help ensure your 2011 sales success.
Know your pipeline. If you have used our Sales Leaders Second Quarter Checklist you should have a good feel for the quality and value of your sales pipeline. Some of your reps will have very strong pipelines and others will not, so where should your time as a sales leader be spent? The natural tendency of most sales leaders is to focus on the lowest producers to pull them up to everyone else’s level. This altruistic approach is commendable but more often than not causes the sales team to miss their number and the company to miss their revenue objectives.
As a sales leader you have only some much time in each day. Since nearly 40% of your time is committed to internal meetings and administrative tasks you have to make the 60% you have left extremely effective. Our suggestion is to develop a 20-20-20 plan with your remaining time.
- 20% of your time with your rainmakers
- 20% of your time with your “B” team
- 20% of your time recruiting
Face it we rely heavily on our rainmakers. They are the heavy lifters of the sales organization and deserve our time helping them overcome the internal struggles associated with winning elephant accounts. We need to keep them happy and motivated, they are key to our continued success. These reps are also our farm system of future sales leaders. They need and deserve that extra grooming time from their leadership to be ready to take the mound when needed.
On the B team, every sales leader needs a couple future rainmakers. The key is moving them from good to great, and this too takes management time. Spending quality time here helps you better understand the areas of personal development they need to become sales stars. Quality development time here also forges loyalty bonds that can’t be bought through a compensation plan. These people are your future so invest heavily in them, but expect big rewards.
Lastly, comes the bottom tier reps. We know that every year we have a portion of our team that is not going to make it. The reasons are numerous; some sales people are lazy, have bad attitudes, or just don’t have the right social skills to function effectively in a sales capacity. Regardless the reasons, some people can’t be saved and spending valuable leadership time on them is a mistake.
Decide how to fairly transition bottom performers from your business and spend this time instead finding your next “A” players. They are rare and often difficult to woo from their present positions thanks to compensation plan handcuffs smart companies apply. Taking time to recruit during the year also reduces the year-end crush to replace non-performers – which is often when everyone else is hiring.
Are Preparing for Success?
We know there are other equally important sales leader tasks to manage right now, what are your priorities?