Revenue is falling – it happens to most companies at one point or another. Sales personnel begin making more excuses than phone calls, ignore leads or fail to procure more of them, and settle into a “culture of mediocrity” that is the antithesis of a successful, thriving company. While the best way to prevent this is to see the signs early, there are still some proven methods to combat this without having to turn over the sales department and hire new employees.
Take a close look at your comp plan, and judge whether you have created incentives for behaviors that benefit your company’s long term goals. Over time, many firms end up with very complicated sales incentives and tiers. The same sales personnel that claim they are helpless to effect change in their production are very adept at figuring out how to maximize their income. When a disconnect occurs between your company goals and their compensation plan – you will lose every time. Reevaluate all of your commission and bonus plans – get involved at the ground level and talk to staff. Don’t let the accountants in the office try to drive behavior until you have learned what is going on in the trenches.
Coaching and Training
Just as professional athletes need coaches to keep their skills sharp, so do sales personnel. Bad habits develop, techniques that worked are abandoned in favor of short-cuts, and laziness sets in. Simply imploring them to “do better” will not only frustrate them, but also waste your time. Keep them educated, trained, and challenged. Expose them to information that comes from outside your company, even if it is from different industries. The best motivation for change comes from new information; you have to teach first, then take control. When you have taught them something of value, you will be operating from personal power versus position power – this is the difference between a leader and a boss.
Establish and Enforce Expectations
Until you are measuring all the Key Performance Indicators, you are simply coaching the final score. Anyone can exhort their staff to “try harder” or “work smarter” – these are meaningless phrases that roll off their backs and do not address the real opportunities within your business. Every time you decide to ignore a behavior or metric that is contrary to your business success, you set a new standard for your staff. Daily feedback based on performance indicators is necessary to both reinforce good behaviors and identify bad ones. You cannot measure your business success without financial reporting – nor can you manage your revenue with your personality.
Of course, all of the items mentioned here require hands-on training and management. Find a professional from your industry to help you; this is an investment, not an expense.
BASE offers a free one-hour consultation for any small to medium sized business with full confidentiality. Simply contact us via email or through our website.