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Energize Your Business Development Team

Well-placed actions by management can make a big difference in results
by Rick Wemmers
Guru Bios

Selling (anything) is a hard job, filled with rejection, fear, stress and negative experiences. That's why so many (85%) of sales people don't like it and would prefer to do something else. And yet the things that have proven helpful to keep negative levels to a minimum and selling at high levels are simple but rarely done.

People who manage sales teams must be mother, father confessor, coach, doctor and trainer all wrapped up into one. They have to know what makes each person tick, happy and unhappy and they must use tools that tell them what their sales people won't tell them.

I have also long been a proponent that an organization's top executive must be involved if outstanding sales success is to be achieved. Unfortunately, many CEOs feel their involvement isn't necessary. They believe that by delegating to others they are not impacting sales results. Not true!

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with delegating responsibility. I just make the point that when the sales force seems to be performing poorly, if CEO actions or lack of are often the primary cause of poor performance.

Here are some CEO actions I've seen really work wonders:
# 1 - Be visible. Drop in on sales meetings from time to time, ride with a sales person occasionally and ask questions of customers.

# 2 - Authorize some fresh, sales skills training. There is no such thing as an "over-trained" sales person.

# 3 - Encourage the development of coaching and reinforcement for the sales force. Just as sales is a game of numbers so is the development of really successful sales people. They aren't made in a day, week or even a month. It takes time and plenty of trial and error on their part (and their managers), which is filled with negative experiences and failures. These "failures" need to be put in their proper place - when they happen - and individuals can't do this alone.

#4 - Authorize information sources on prospects. Every salesman will perform better when they have in-depth knowledge of the prospect. The easier it is to get, the more they will use it and the more sales they will make. Works every time!

# 5 - Have quality incentives, as the sales force sees them. All too often management decides on incentives "they" like and assume the sales force will like them as well. Ask them what they want and willing to work hard to get. Consider involving the wife or significant other.

# 6 - Give recognition - frequently. Many sales managers and CEOs assume the "once-a-year banquet" is enough. That's ok if average sales results are all you want. If a company wants to really grow, more frequent recognition is required. And when this is done it should be in front of other sales people and employees, even customers. It doesn't have to be long, just very visible.

# 7 - Encourage the sales team to focus on best prospects. Stress quality of prospect calls verses the quantity. Big sales jumps come when the selling

# 8 - Sales team brainstorming sessions are great for finding new ideas and ways to increase sales. These sessions should be no longer than 25 minutes, facilitated by an experienced brainstorming facilitator and done once a quarter. Always give participants advance information about the subject of the session, along with some guidelines for their thinking.

#9 - "Think outside the box" when trying to increase morale and sales activity. Hold the next sales meeting at an unusual place or time. This doesn't have to be at a resort of distant location. Think - out by the manufacturing line, in the warehouse, at a customer location or in your employee cafeteria. Add unusual times e.g. start at 9:07 AM, lunch at 12:09PM, etc. Have catchy themes, colors and handouts. Bring in an outside speaker. Take some photographs and circulate them to other employees.

The whole point about this article is that the top dog, leader can do a great deal toward increasing sales force morale and results. Delegation is wise and giving managers the tools to better train and support their sales people is wonderful. However, there is no substitute for CEO involvement, even if they don't like to sell. Their involvement, even actions outside sales meetings will make a world of difference with every sales person.

First published on BankersOnline.com 7/11/05

First published on 07/11/2005

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