Keeping your salesforce positive amid the face of frustration

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:21 pm

In these uncertain economic times it is more important than ever to keep your salesforce motivated and productive – not an easy task, as markets continue to slide and companies tighten their spending belts.
Many sales departments in the area are experiencing frustration, and some, a level of panic.
But according to Theodore Pappas of Sales Coaching, LLC, Brookfield, there are many things companies can do to maintain control and keep their sales people feeling secure and optimistic.
“Success in sales is the summation of many minor victories,” says Pappas, a 34-year veteran of the field who stresses an approach that combines solid, hands-on leadership, increased customer service, demonstrated optimism, and a little creativity.
It all begins with good sales leadership, according to Pappas. A good sales manager needs to demonstrate control by implementing programs that give structure and a sense of “surety” to his or her team. “Just like any other team, the team members always feel more secure when the ‘coach’ seems to know what he’s doing,” he says.
Especially in hard times, it is very important that the sales manager manage from the field and not from the office, he adds. A more hands-on approach to management could consist of making more scheduled and unscheduled field calls with the sales team to ensure individual preparedness, or periodic review of sales kits to make sure they’re fresh and relevant.
Individual quotas should be discussed regularly as well, and periodic reviews should be conducted to gauge a salesperson’s attitude and effectiveness. According to Pappas, it’s not a bad idea for sales managers to ask their people: “Where do you expect to get your sales this month?”
When it comes to dealing with customers in difficult times, sales managers should encourage the salesforce to demonstrate empathy, not pity, for their state of business. This means continuing to service customers who are having lean years, says Pappas. “Do the unexpected,” he says. “Whatever it takes to help your customer become successful and avoid failure.”
Additionally, by asking the customer service department to call on current and past customers, they are able to talk to the decision-makers and determine their level of satisfaction with your company’s service in such areas as service/delivery, sales team service, competitor activity, and whether they would recommend your company to others. Pappas says he has witnessed many former clients come back to a company that took the time to ask them about their business.
Keeping it fun
Maintaining an upbeat attitude is essential to success, says Pappas. Sales people can be led to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure if the leadership expels messages of doom and gloom. Instead, create fun and innovative activities for the salesforce.
Pappas suggests such activities as a “Dormant Account Day,” where sales people list all of their accounts that don’t buy from them and find creative processes to get a foot in the door – kind of a “nothing to lose” approach. Pappas says that during his many years with IBM Corp., Milwaukee, he used this technique successfully when things were slow. “Overall, my success ratio ranged from 5% to 15%,” he says. “It was something different, and I wasn’t calling on customers or prospects that saw me too often.”
Another creative idea to boost morale is to hold a bi-weekly telemarketing blitz. Give awards to those who make the most calls, get the most leads, and close the most business.
Pappas’ final piece of advice for sales managers: Lead by example – be the first in and the last to leave. Effective sales teams need effective sales managers. And if a company cannot afford a full-time sales manager, it should hire a part-time sales manager, according to Pappas. The position is too vital to the survival of the company to entrust to an inexperienced CEO or salesperson.
For more information about Sales Coaching, LLC, call 262-784-9910

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