In “9 Simple Rules for Savvy Sales Leaders,” the team at Salesforce AppExchange lays down some guidelines to help sales leaders navigate the ever-changing landscape of the industry. Here are five of those sales rules to focus on for recruiting and sustaining sales leaders for your team.
Hire better talent
Salesforce cites a 35 percent rate of turnover for sales teams. That’s high. And it’s definitely something sales leaders want to remedy.
Sales expert Jack Daly advises sales leaders to remember that recruitment is a process. It’s important to take your time when it comes to adding members to your team—besides, you’re going to be depending on these new people once they get in.
To lower this rate for your team, find out the attributes that your company needs to succeed, then hire people who match those attributes. Say, your company sells high-ticket items and you need tenacious salespeople who will be willing to drill through the wall of doubt of b2b buyers.
Find a way to test for this tenacity, and hire people who will demonstrate it.
Above all, make sure to hire people with good attitude. Otherwise, it’s a losing battle. Good attitude precedes coachability. And coachable salespeople are an asset to any sales organization.
Jay Elliot, former Apple senior vice president and author of Leading Apple with Steve Jobs details Steve’s hiring strategies for “A+ players said, “I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1.Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream… A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”
Luckily, there are steps you can take to change your hiring process and ensure only A+ players will join your company.
Cultivate better company culture
One of the best ways to attract, hire, and keep top talent is to cultivate better company culture. Ensure that you provide an environment filled with challenges where your employees can develop further and work on themselves.
Challenges don’t have to be stressful situations, though.
Remember, it’s not wise to expect singers to dance. Keep the difficulty high but still in line with the skills salespeople are trained for. This will build up your company as a place of work for competent salespeople—a workplace sales pros would want to be part of.
Use all channels for hiring
Long gone are the days of printing a simple ad for hiring and waiting for people to answer. In the modern age of technology, everything that company does will somehow relate to hiring. Running a great online campaign or organizing an event involving people outside your company will do wonders to attract new people. Getting out and networking is one of the most effective methods for finding new talents.
Stay involved in the hiring process
Disengaging from the hiring process is a mistake often done by the leaders. While it is important to have other people involved in the process, you as the leader should be involved in the final decision. After all, it is your vision that attracts people. Those that believe in your vision will know why is the position important for the company.
Dump the lightweights
Salesforce advises that if you’ve got sub-par salespeople, get rid of them—quickly.
You’ve got a bottom line, so there’s no use wasting time on weak members of your team. Instead, you could be spending your time coaching your strong sales leaders to the next level. Barbara Corcoran, New York real estate mogul and one of the stars of “Shark Tank,” used to fire the bottom quarter of her sales team each year as a sales rule…
Firing is never easy, but you must overcome the guilt. Focus on the future of the company. Managing sub-par employees costs money, time and, productivity. It’s your duty to think of the best interests of the company.
Detailed feedback record
Make sure you keep your expectations clear and your employee performance is logged. The decision to fire an employee should not be unexpected; provide them with ample opportunity to succeed before resorting to firing.
Be direct and respectful
Use the correct words – “terminate” or “fire” while letting go of people. While you have to stay focused, showing sympathy is fine. Don’t point fingers and avoid accusations, there is no need for hostility. Shake hands and thank your employee for their effort.
Notify the rest of your staff
Rumors spread fast and you must do your best to curb them. Prepare your staff for the change and avoid unnecessary gossip. Letting a mismatched employee go can be beneficial to the rest of your company.
If you don’t have a proof of poor performance, you should have another go at trying to improve their performance.
Implement a personal improvement plan with measurable goals and timeline. Make sure your employee is aware of what is expected of him and act accordingly to the results.
Reconsider your incentives
Is your incentive plan doing its job? Is your team motivated to keep working and keep selling? If not, it’s time to fix it. Salesforce states that 43% of corporate compensation plans are not adaptable.
Don’t let yours be one of them. Consider making changes to your incentive plan so that it remains in line with the overall strategy of the company, but also encourages your sales leaders to keep working hard. It doesn’t always have to be about more money, either. There are some who also believe that there are non-monetary ways to incentivize your team.
Offering incentives for salespeople can boost morale, increase motivation, and raise productivity, When used right, incentives will urge your team towards superior sales productivity.
Chances are, your company already offers “work perks” to top performers. These incentives are directly tied to the workplace environment. They tend to cost a little but are highly regarded by salespeople. Upgraded office space or reserved parking slot doesn’t cost much, but your employees will work hard to earn those perks.
Providing luxurious incentives to your employees doesn’t sound intuitive, but if you leverage your ties to the suppliers, this option becomes really cost-effective. If you offer multiple options to your salespeople, your employees will find the value in your incentive program.
Perhaps the most effective way to make salespersons respond to your incentive program is to leverage career path. Providing a clear route to career advancement is an effective method to encourage sales people. Offering a career map is a constant incentive as opposed to a limited time enticement.
Take a deep look at your plans. Encourage salespeople to identify all potential incentive avenues for your sales team!
Make social media mandatory for yourself
While some companies ban the use of Facebook, Twitter, and so on, Salesforce believes that using social media should be mandatory for sales leaders. Why? Because 83 percent of consumers use social media to navigate the buying process. Anyone who sells should make social listening part of their day to key into important insights of their target customers. This is a non-negotiable sales rule.
A social media coach, Janet Fouts, says “Social media allows salespeople to see what prospects are saying about their brand and competitors. You can really get to know his or her needs through social listening. It’s a great way to research a market and initiate conversation leading to a sale.”
Fouts continues: “The most important thing salespeople need to know is that they need to develop relationships more than they need to develop leads, because good relationships will turn into leads. People share a lot of information, and if you monitor and listen to what they are saying, you will eventually be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with them.”
Use social media to connect, engage in conversations, and build relationship. If you are unsure where to start, tools like socialmention.com proved to be extremely useful to find people talking about your industry.
There are other ways to do this. Create a Facebook group related to your product or service and invite potential customers to join. The next step is to send targeted messages to the active members within group.
Join the groups that your clients are members of on LinkedIn, as well. Engage in conversation there by answering asked questions and showcase your expertise in a specific area.
Twitter also offers opportunities to initiate dialogues even though it should be used as a listening tool. Listen to your potential clients’ tweets and use them as trigger points to start a conversation. If you share good content with your social networks, it can spread easily, increasing your visibility with new leads.
According to Salesforce, co-creation is king in the sales industry. That’s great news, provided sales leaders actually stop long enough to allow the co-creation to take place. It’s easy to resort to the hard pitch when it comes to selling, but often it’s the conversation that takes place between the salesperson and the customer—Salesforce calls it “conversation leadership”—that will yield better results.
With co-creation, the participation process includes customers, general population, suppliers and many other parties. They are made aware that they are contributing directly to the development of ideas and concepts. Through many steps, people are invited to contribute, evaluate, and refine ideas and concepts.
In the sales approach, suppliers tend to view customers as adversaries who need to be persuaded to buy their offer. In the co-creation approach, suppliers and customers become partners. They are engaged in a long-term relationship, creating value through dialogue.
Thanks to co-creation you can produce new ideas with your customers, create service concepts, develop brand new and promotional ideas. Perhaps you’ll miss concrete details, but your company will get new themes and ideas for further developing.
It is important not to confuse co-creation with crowdsourcing. In co-creation approach, customers become active partners. Both the seller and the customer work together to develop a solution. With co-creation, the call is not put to an open forum or platform. It’s put on a smaller group of individuals and the result is less crowd noise and less chaos.
Sales is the lifeblood of a company. There’s just no way around to it. Sales leaders bear the pressure of performing to keep raking in revenue for the company.
Take these rules to heart—and be so good, they can’t ignore you.