Get an Extra 5-10% from Your Sales Team
Now is the time of year when we start maximising every day, making sure we’ve got all our end of year initiatives in place, as well as deciding what parties we’ll go to and what wife or hubby wants for Christmas, right?
In all of this, isn’t it easy to forget your plans for next year? What differences are you going to make in your company’s sales plan to ensure revenue and/or margin growth?
Actually, with those questions in mind, let me ask a simple one I’m sure you’ll respond to: how would it be if you could get an extra 10% in revenue from each Account Manager in your team?
I find working with sales teams in our industry that 5-10% of revenue growth can often be achieved in a very short period of time with some basic changes in behaviour.
It’s there in the SKU count; it’s found in having a per account and per call plan; it can be found by reviewing relationships; it can be massaged out with training and in-store support of sell-through.
All too often, these basics are being ignored and opportunities are being lost. It’s also become apparent to me during this year that there is often a lack of “joining the dots” between what a National Sales or National Account Manager is doing at head office level and what is happening at store level – most often with SKU counts.
Let’s look at some key points you can use when reviewing your team, or creating your plan for next year.
1. ENSURE YOUR TEAM UNDERSTAND THEIR ROLE AND YOUR EXPECTATIONS!
Sounds obvious but how do you know they do? The first thing you need to change or improve with your team is their understanding of and therefore accountability in their role. You may expect growth, planning and excellence but, if they don’t understand how to do this or haven’t bought into it, then your plans are empty.
Get your team together early in the New Year and start planning as a team. Get them talking with each other and creating a plan for growth. And how about creating “Team Standards” – a code of excellence by which your team goes about their daily business?
This code will be invaluable for both existing sales staff and those that join your business in the future
2. PER CALL PLANS ARE UTTERLY ESSENTIAL!
There needs to be a set of objectives, call them ABC. An “A” objective may be the introduction of a new SKU or product range.
A “B” objective might be securing an aisle end or training session. A “C” objective might be a client promise to introduce a new product once a competitor’s stock is sold through (in other words, client buy-in to a path of action).
It is equally essential that every call is recorded so that the Account Manager can refer to these notes prior to the next call. That’s especially important for reps in remoter territories where the calls can be several weeks apart.
A Sales Manager I spoke to recently has this in place with a small bonus on offer for the rep that gets the most “A”s every month.
3. REVIEW YOUR INFLUENCE ACROSS THE VALUE CHAIN!
Trade sales in merchants directly correlate to your activities in the specifier / architect and builder / group builder markets. If you have separate people dealing in these markets then get them talking, make them close!
Close the gaps and ensure your team members are not operating in silos. If your reps engage across all levels then review their activity. Where are they spending their time? Saying what and to whom?
This leads me on to the next and possibly the second most essential point where you, as a Sales Manager or Business owner, can add the most value…..
4. DEAL WITH THE DECISION MAKER!
Remember that in the majority of cases your Account Manager will engage where he or she is most comfortable and, often, where they have been accepted. Easy extra revenue gets hung up on obstacles and there is none larger than adding an extra step in the sales chain through dealing with the Decision Maker’s appointee.
This removes all emotion and passion in your client dealings – and you need that on your side to sell more. Get out with your guys on the road and step in if needs be. Use the title on your business card to get in front of the Decision Maker and introduce your rep to this person.
5. STOP BEATING A DEAD HORSE!
Ensure your team members are looking for alternatives to poor performing lines. Can that space be better utilised? In this world of GMROI, your freshness of thinking and ability to act quickly in making these calls could grow your place in category.
6. TAKE STOCK OF YOUR PROMOTIONAL CALENDAR AND DISCUSS THIS WITH YOUR TEAM!
Why are you doing the things you’re doing? What’s worked in the past and what hasn’t? What are your competitors doing well? Who are the category champions and what are they doing promotionally that you’re not?
Look closely at your sell-in and sell-out data and make some smart decisions – better to have two really effective and fully engaged promos in a year than half a dozen mediocre ones that your reps don’t really believe in.
So, there’s an underlying current here of getting your team together more often and leading them in decisive discussions with buy-in from all team members. This is also a great way of observing your people together and enabling you to assess attitude and passion.
There may also be an opportunity to see who is emerging a leader or showing leadership qualities in this environment. Get out with your reps more! Many people are now comparing our industry to FMCG and all this is typically done well in that market.