Coaching Your Team to Stunning Wins (Business Planning Series, Part 3)
Whether you are a solopreneur or manage a team of salespeople, how do you do business planning that becomes more than wishful thinking? How do we make real growth happen? In this series on business planning, we’ll walk through how to make plans actionable by creating both “bottom-up” and “top-down” business goals!In this series, we talked about the fastest way to plan growth by dramatically increasing your sales with existing customers as well as three quenching tactics to inspire your clients to buy more. In this post, we’ll discuss ways you can help your team achieve their individual goals as well as solidify your company goals. Most salespeople start their year with hopes: They hope their client will spend more, they hope they can sell more, they hope they make more money. But very few salespeople sit down and plan to grow. It’s year-end and, as we all know in this business, every year starts over January 1st with new client budgets which means new opportunities, there is very little residual business in this industry, there are residual clients and residual projects sometimes, but very little exact repeat business, so we must remain vigilant to explore every opportunity. And to ensure we don’t leave ourselves simply at the mercy of a client’s buying habits, we must set goals to guarantee growth. How do we, as leaders, help our team get the most out of their year and help them tap their true sales potential?First: understand the power of shared goals. Dictating growth goals is rarely an effective strategy, it is fear driven rather than opportunity driven. Moreover, cultivating shared goals alongside your employees activates their initiative, real progress occurs when we have a vested interest in the outcome and when you establish your own goals, you are setting standards for yourself. The intrinsic reward that comes from meeting your own goal is far greater than meeting a goal set by others. In a recent skucast interview with Memo Kahan, President of Top 40 Distributor PromoShop, said this about sales ambition, “It really has to be a self-motivating endeavor for it to last and be successful.” Second, understand that your role in the relationship is to challenge and inspire your colleague to do their best work and to develop, professionally, into the best version of themselves they can be, and to act as a sounding board as you work through the goal-setting process. We use the word coach a lot in business, but in reality, that’s what a manager is, a coach. Phil Dixon once said that “my best quality as a coach is that I ask a lot of challenging questions and let the person come up with the answer.” There is a bit of a dance between leadership and the sales team when it comes to setting their goals because there are two mistakes salespeople make: aiming too high and aiming too low. Some salespeople aim too low, but this isn’t because they are pessimistic but because they are setting their goals from a subjective experience: the business is fast-paced and demanding and deadline driven, and they sometimes can’t fathom a dramatic increase in business due to being currently swamped with work. It’s your job to help them see accounts they should spend less time on to make room for more, or to help spot opportunities they can’t quite see.Some salespeople aim too high, making largely unrealistic goals that have no basis in reality. These goals become merely wishes, easily made, easily forgotten. They are not active goals and rarely surface again throughout the year and are therefore DOA.How does one go about both setting individual sales goals and also coaching your team toward stronger goals? I asked Samantha Kates, commonsku’s Vice President of Sales, whose extensive experience in both distributor sales and supplier sales gives her a unique perspective on goal setting.Like a good coach, Sam replied, “I like to sit down with a rep and ask them, ‘Out of the accounts that you work with, who are the top accounts that are the most important and/or the accounts you enjoy working with the most?’” Similar to our last article on quenching (targeting your top ten accounts), Sam focuses on exploring these key accounts through investigation.Sam insists that each rep use the end of the year season to try and visit with each account, either on the phone or (preferably) face-to-face. “There are two indicators for sales growth, lagging indicators -like your previous year’s sales history with that client- and leading indicators, signs that will indicate where a client is going, either growth, stagnation, or decline.”“There are two primary ways to determine leading indicators,” said Sam, “and the first one starts by asking the client questions.”But going back to our strategy on quenching to educate and explore more opportunities, you have to think beyond asking the client general questions about their promo budget or spend, that’s a short-sighted viewpoint, what you’ll miss is a massive opportunity to sight real opportunities for growth. Questions that have to do with a client’s purpose and initiative will not only reveal spend beyond the promo budget but will also carve spend away from poorer performing advertising categories (like digital ad spending), questions that reveal intent, like:
- What strategic initiatives are you looking at launching next year? What is the most important one?
- Are you adding new employees? New divisions? Are there any mergers or acquisitions on the horizon?
- Are you expanding your service offering (product line,
- How do you see your company and your department changing?
“The goal of coaching is the goal of good management: the make the most out of an organization’s valuable resources.” - Harvard Business Review
commonsku is an effortless business management platform that empowers you to process more orders and handle more business. Learn more at commonsku.com. Quote by Tim Gallwey