A sales manager’s dream is to have a team of reps who go beyond expectation and bring in large volumes of business. You know the type: Sales reps who exceed targets and help the company grow. Assembling such a group of professionals is no easy feat, however.
Many nuances go into the makeup of excellent salespeople. Sometimes you have to chew a lot of fat before finding the right mix of people — a team with good personalities and a winning mentality.
That’s why it’s vital to make transitioning to new staff easy. Too often, sales managers are unprepared for team members quitting. One minute everything is rosy, and your deal conversions are in full flow. The next, it all goes up in the air and chaos ensues.
So, how do you negate such a problem from arising and minimize the disruption of team members leaving? Having a robust sales process in place is a good starting point. But there are more layers involved.
So how do you prepare for your sales staff quitting?
The Perils of Reps Leaving
A number of problems arise from losing good salespeople. Every manager runs the risk of staff taking valuable contacts with them when they exit a company. It’s a nightmare scenario. Not only does the sales department potentially lose out on a future customer; an element of trust is also broken.
Staff leaving can cause holes in the pipeline – especially if Excel and e-mail communications are the method for manahing leads. A new rep will aim to pick up where the last one left off, only to find they can’t easily access previous information. Or, even worse, any prior contact info between a lead and old staff member is lost entirely.
A constant turnover of staff also paints a picture of an unhealthy working environment. Bad morale is often the result of regular staff churn. Creating a bond between team members is nearly impossible if two or three of them won’t be at the company in a couple of months’ time.
Understanding your Staff and Environment
Every sales team has its key salespeople – those who perform at the very top of their game. Suggesting otherwise would be naive. It’s always good to keep the best reps happy and hungry with compensation that matches their performance.
But top salespeople only make up one aspect of the team. If you have a group of, say, 20 sales reps, chances are that two, maybe three of them perform at an elite level.
You can’t simply ignore the other 17, nor would you want to. That’s why it’s important to not only create a culture where team mentality thrives, but also have a process that affords other staff members opportunities to reach the top levels.
However, even with a great atmosphere and a strong team dynamic, some employees are still going to leave the company. Either by their own choice as they feel it’s time to move on or because, for one reason or another, it’s just not working out.
Ease the Process of the Sales Churn
Replacing team members is something that every manager has to do at some point. It happens in all sectors; not just sales. There are ways to counteract the problem, though. A manager will face the issue of losing staff multiple times during their spell in charge. The key is to keep disruption to a minimum when one rep leaves and another joins.
Have a centralized information system in place. Don’t accept that your deal flow information is stored on a notebook, different Excel files owned by your rep, or inside their inbox. New reps need instant access. If the info isn’t in one easily accessible place, it will be hard to ensure that reps have smooth handovers of accounts.
The knock-on effect means they are potentially dealing with a client who a previous rep spoke to but don’t have the necessary information. Such a scenario is likely to lead to frustrations from the client as they feel they have to go through the process all over again.
How to Avoid Issues
You might choose a CRM to manage customers or, if it’s solely for sales, lead management software will be the preferred option. Not sure about the differences between CRM and lead management software? Check out our previous post.
Next, you need a clear, defined sales process. There needs to be an organized and easily accessible way to engage with each new incoming prospect and the relevant steps taken to turn unqualified prospects into customers.
A good system will curtail any disruptions staff turnover causes. The team is important, but the tools they are given to thrive are essential, as you don’t have to solely rely on a-star sellers.
By making the process the ‘“star of the show’”, suddenly the reliance on your team is not an essential.
A good process acts as the architecture to any good sales setup. New staff seamlessly fit into the team and easily adapt to your tried and tested methods.
On-boarding New Sales Reps
As a manager, it’s important to look at your onboarding process and review it regularly. Do you have a structure in place that makes it easy for new staff to hit the ground running?
A clear and organized sales process lends itself to a transparent on-boarding set up. A simple method that people can adopt from the first day increases the chances of success – especially as far as on-boarding is concerned. Every manager dreams of hiring new staff that they don’t have to spend extended time teaching.
As a manager, there are two main risks with new employees: First is spending too much time and resources teaching them. The second, and probably worst, is taking too long to realize they don’t fit the job.
For the first problem the process is again part of the solution. For the second part, metrics are important. Don’t measure solely on the the number of leads they close and how much money they make.
If the sales cycle takes an average of six months, you can’t truly measure if your salesperson is up to the task before eight to nine months. But you can’t wait that long to find out if employees are suitable for the role.
If they aren’t suitable for the position, the sooner you can find that out — the better. To avoid waiting so long, have activity-based metrics and intermediate KPIs.
Having salespeople that convert is vital, but there are some other ways to measure progress — at least with new staff. Monitor how they behave on calls, be bcc’d into emails and look at how they progress a lead to identify promising salespeople.
A Better Future for You and Your Salespeople
Quickly understanding the strengths and weaknesses of new employees is important to a successful sales team. Identify problems: is it in the qualifying process, after the first meeting, building proposals or closing?
Clear stats help find weak points, so you can advise and hopefully improve their performance. And if they don’t get better, early identification of weak points means you can make the necessary plans to bring in new staff.
Managers have enough items to juggle — the least amount of time lost is always welcome.
To round it up:
1) Identify your top sales reps and keep them hungry and motivated.
2) Have a clear sales process and make it the star of the show.
3) Make the process well documented and provide your team with the right tools for better onboarding with less emphasis on the individual.
4) Have a centralized information system so someone leaving does not result in a loss of business.
5) Have action-based metrics so you can quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of your new staff.