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“Are your sales metrics slumping? Give me 5 minutes in your team meeting and I’ll tell you what your problem is… And offer the solution.”
~ Chandell Labbozzetta
The other week I was invited to observe a sales team meeting.
The company owner (I’ll call him Jed) was aiming to create exponential growth (scale) in his company, but he was concerned about the sales team because he had noticed that sales were slowing rather than increasing.
It’s actually an interesting time right now for businesses with many destabilising influences around and it means your sales team needs to be very careful not to let what I call the ‘sales thief’ slip in.
Like many owners, Jed had always been the most effective sales person for his products and services because he knew them inside out, understood the mind of the decision-makers to whom he talked, and was able to inspire and reassure them almost effortlessly. He had been slow to take on sales people for this reason, but had eventually built a sales team that was delivering the kind of results he had hoped for… And now, that was slipping away.
He was hoping that I could identify the sales thief that was undermining his team and stealing his sales growth.
Within minutes of the start of the meeting I was quite confident that I knew the answer to their slumping sales and I texted him to tell him what to look for, so he could follow my thinking.
The meeting was lively with energetic discussion and input from all members.
There was good rapport between the members and they were supporting each other in their struggles.
They had metrics, goals, and even solid systems in most of the key areas.
And… all those numbers had gone down since last week’s meeting. What’s more – as I told Jed when we were sitting in his office after the meeting – I was willing to bet that the following week the sales numbers would have dropped again for the 5-word reason I had sent to him in the text a few minutes after the meeting had started.
Success in sales (like most other successes in life) comes from focusing on what you want. Sadly, many sales meetings focus on failure to get what you want and the obstacles that lie between you and your goal rather than a clear vision and a strategic plan.
Most sales training and sales trainers encourage that focus so it’s not surprising to see it play out in the team. Sure, John or Debbie or whoever wins ‘sales person of the week’ sets a target for the team to reach, but often the rest of the meeting is centred on discussions that focus on the reasons sales didn’t happen, rather than the results that you want to see. Like any sales team, Jed’s had been well trained in classic sales techniques and they executed them well. This worked great in a burgeoning economy, and even the pandemic didn’t dent it too badly – the problem was they didn’t have the multi-dimensional thinking that would prepare them mentally and strategically as well as tactically for the challenges of an uncertain market that had an uneasy eye on global tensions, looming inflation, business collapse, and political uncertainty (with so many countries holding elections at various levels this year).
I had only shared one of the key points I quickly identified with Jed during the meeting. Afterwards, I shared the others with him and he nodded agreement as he realised that a sales team that has been operating in a growing economy is simply going to have to learn new skills as the economy tightened and their sales training needed to take a multi-dimensional approach.
There are several components of a multi-dimensional sales training program that will equip your team to perform at its peak in a tightening economy and I won’t go into them here. I lay the foundations for them all in my program Confident Conversion: 90 days to More Cash, More Clients, More Impact, and then we go deeper into how to implement them in my ongoing program for business owners and sales managers, Sales Leaders’ Round Table as well as in my private in-house sales trainings, but what I want to point out is that in a tightening economy it is especially important to focus on the performance metrics that your sales team can control.
By all means ring the bell for closed sales. Sales are the heart-blood of any business and without them you don’t have a business so you need to celebrate them, but appointments and productive conversations are metrics that your team members do control – as is selecting high-quality prospects. There is an almost magical transformation in the morale of your sales team that occurs when you talk about specific ways of changing results – from modifying your offer so it is more appealing (not necessarily cheaper) and putting better-qualified prospects on your call list – and this leads to more sales.
As we head into a more challenging economy my question to you is:
Are your sales team equipped for this environment that demands greater mental and energetic resourcefulness and different sales skills?
This is not only about your business. Many of your prospects who will potentially make large profits from buying your products or services will feel nervous about the investment and, without a carefully choreographed sales process delivered by a well-trained sales person might miss out on the opportunity to take their place as industry leaders. For your business… Well, let me ask you:
If your answer to any of those questions was ‘Yes’. Then you probably want to consider whether your sales team needs some help adjusting to this new climate.
“In every adversity there are seeds of opportunity. Whether you stand or fall might depend on the pre-emptive action you take.”
Training your sales team is no exception. You can start now and take pre-emptive action to get ahead of the curve and lead the field or you can follow later and play catch up.
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