7 Reasons Why Your Sales Team Is Not A Sales Force

One of the top gripes companies have on a consistent basis is that their sales team is not selling. To fix that, you need to ask a clarifying question, “Do we have a Sales Team or a Sales Force?” Sales Teams wait around for the sales to happen. Sales Forces generate sales. There is a fundamental difference between these two sales ideologies, and it will affect the overall predictability of your business revenue.

Think about it for a moment. If you are waiting around for a client to call and give you a sale, it is impossible to predict when and how much. Sure companies look at last year’s numbers and use that as a gauge of what should be coming in or what is commonly referred to as run-rate, but what if it doesn’t? We see this time and again and when those numbers don’t come in, there is an awful lot of pain that goes around. You need a force of sales professionals that smash the market with productive revenue generating activity. If you are salivating and wondering how to make this happen, you first need to understand why your Sales Team is not a Sales Force. Through a wealth of experience, we’ve found that these are the top 7 reasons why the Force isn’t with you:

  1. Culture: This is the one that’s most important and almost always gets ignored. A culture of accountability, hard work, and results will transform an organization. If everyone is getting in at 9:00, spending the first 45 minutes checking email, sharpening pencils, taking 30 minute coffee breaks, taking 2 hour lunches, spending their afternoon checking Facebook and email and leaving at 4:00, there isn’t a lot of time for selling. This is a common occurrence in organizations and instead, creating a culture of selling from the receptionist all the way through sales, operations, finance, HR, up to the CEO is more powerful than anything else you can do. Create a selling culture and the culture will sell!
  2. Set Clear Achievable Targets and Don’t Touch Them: If you don’t know where the target is, you can’t hit it. Targets and commission dictate behavior so if you’re wondering why your sales people aren’t selling, you might first ask is if you’re motivating the right behavior. Clear and concise targets that are motivated by properly structured commissions are going to create results. The targets can be challenging, however, they need to be achievable on planet Earth. For a sales person, there is nothing worse than getting an unrealistic target. It will make them stop before they start. What’s worse than that is moving a target after it has set. Amateur organizations set the targets and then penalize the sales force for hitting the goals by moving them higher in-year. This will de-motivate the entire team and you’ll watch sales go down the drain. A total culture killer!
  3. Structure: There are so many ways to structure a Sales Force and when you get it right, it’s magic. If you get the right people in the right job, they will shine. Don’t have your hunters wasting their time farming and don’t make a farmer hunt that doesn’t have the DNA to hunt. This is just scratching the surface, but getting the right people in the right place is a day-one priority. Also, once you get this structure set, it is OK to tweak but don’t change it too often. We experienced a major multi-billion dollar company that decided to restructure the sales force, not one time, not two times, not three times, but four times within an 18 month period. Do you think anyone was concentrating on selling? Set the structure and run with it! Tweak but don’t touch.
  4. Rewards: From a used car lot to Fortune 500 companies, there are always going to be companies that destroy their sales force’s motivation by having an ambiguous commission plan or constantly tweaking the plan to the salesperson’s disadvantage. These sales professionals are selling to make money. Full Stop. When you play with that, you play with your results. Make the commission schedule clear and concise. Remember, this is going to dictate the salespeople’s behavior so if you want your sales to go ballistic, motivate them with good commissions based on a plan that is fair, challenging, and easy to understand that tell them how they are going to get paid.
  5. People and Training: Sometimes, you can’t turn coal into a diamond no matter how much pressure and heat you apply. It’s not that someone has to be born to sell, but if they don’t have the inherent skill set and don’t want to work hard, they are not going to perform. Selling isn’t easy and that’s why good commission structures reward the sales professional handsomely for selling. It usually takes a tremendous amount of hard work and the willingness to learn new skills, but it also takes training. If your salespeople don’t have enough training to understand how to prospect, propose,and close through a disciplined sales cycle than they are going to either fail or half succeed. If you find your sales are lagging, and you have addressed the other steps in this list, then training is your priority!
  6. Results & Forecasting: This is one of the all time favorites because it is just so easy to fix. Companies that don’t track their opportunities on a platform that is easy for Sales to know they are not hitting their targets are asking for failure. This is no different than using a map. If you don’t know where you are, where you need to go, how far you have come, and how to get there, how can you ever reach your destination? Sales isn’t any different. Get proper tools in place and at this point, there are so many inexpensive options available to do this like, Salesforce.com, Zoho and Insightly that you have no excuse. Get it done!
  7. Administrative Nightmare’s: This one is easy to see but the hardest to fix. If your salespeople are spending all of their time doing paperwork either before or after a sales, there isn’t much time for selling. We witnessed this in organizations both in the US and Canada and in some organizations it was so bad that the entire sales force was frightened of making a sale due to the overwhelming amount of work that would follow. Sales people are there to sell. Take away the administrative burden and get them selling! Remember, selling is a profession and good salespeople are professionals. You wouldn’t ask a doctor to fix your toilet so don’t ask salespeople to do anything else but sell.

These are the 7 Steps that will surely help turn your sales team into a sales force. Take a look at your organization and see if you have addressed all the steps. If you have and you still aren’t getting anywhere, there will be several articles coming out in the next few weeks that discuss each one of these steps to help you more. If after that your team is still not a force, feel free to give us a call and our team will see if we can help.

How a Hotel Sales Manager Does a Proper Site Inspection

One of the goals of a Hotel Sales Manager is to get clients to come for Site Inspections and tour the hotel with you. Once you get the commitment, get ready to do some work. When I get a commitment to come for a tour – with a date and time, the first thing I do is make a list of questions and decide on what I want to get out of the appointment.

From there I Google their organization and surf through their pages to get an idea who they are. This knowledge is also good to get for when they do come so you have something to talk about that is in their interest. What are they coming for? Some will come to tour before they sign a booking agreement. Others for future business.

When I get an inquiry, lets just say for a wedding block, I always invite them out and I make time for them. Most hotel sales people won’t just ask them to come and meet with them. They would rather quote a rate, hang up, then shoot out an email. This is not “WOWING” the caller.

When you are sincere and welcome them to your “home” you will have a much better chance to book them. Always invite them to take a site inspection of your hotel. Not to mention that your General Manager will keep seeing you on tours. This looks good for you.

From there I route a Site Inspection Form noting their information and how much I feel the client is worth. The day before I always call to confirm the appointment. I do not email them, I call. This shows that yes, I do have time for you. I think the clients like it better.

On inspection day, I will then choose the rooms that I want to show. To be sure I don’t have any surprises, I walk the route that I am going to take with them to pick up any trash or to get something done before they arrive. And I take the time to inspect my rooms. If I don’t like them, I pick more and keep checking until I find what I am looking for.

On a good day it may only take me 15 minutes to find a good room, and I always find something that I don’t like that must be taken care of. On a bad day I have taken over an hour to find the perfect room and the perfect walk through path. Based on occupancy the night before, I don’t always get the best pickings of the rooms.

I recommend getting show rooms if possible. A show room should look perfect. As perfect as the room looked when it first opened. It should smell good too. I must say that if I’m not happy with the show rooms that my Management Team picks out, I always bring it up at the next Staff Meeting.

We put the show rooms in an out of order status but we sell them if we have to. We try to keep our show rooms out of order but with the past hurricanes and bad weather, we are running pretty good on occupancy so they have to use them. We are an Airport Property with many “distressed passengers” and airline crews.

If you do have show rooms, don’t add a bunch of extra items, flowers etc., that are not in all of the guestrooms. Show them a clean, clean smelling and fresh room. Don’t fudge too much. During the site inspection, I have a list ready for the client with my questions and I tell the client that I have questions for them. Then I ask approval to take notes.

Once they leave, I make it a priority to get the proposal or contract done to get it to them as fast as possible. Clients are impressed when they get their paperwork shortly after they left the property. It shows that YOU the Hotel Sales Manager is interested in a partnership and that you will be committed to them and hopefully them to you.

Are Your Sales Meetings Boring?

Many sales meetings are boring and a waste of salespeople’s time, say the majority of salespeople I interview. A review of what’s going on in the market is good to know, but to be effective, sales meetings need to be a lot more than that venues for quick market updates.

Inviting a vendor’s sales representation to present a product training program never hurts, but if product knowledge were the criteria for success in sales, about 90% of the fledgling salespeople in North America who are about to lose their jobs would be top performers. While product knowledge is important, it won’t turn a mediocre performer into a top producer.

What’s missing in most of the salespeople I meet is a general lack of sales skill. But rarely do I see sales meetings focus on teaching salespeople how to sell more products to existing customers or how to penetrate a prospect who is giving the lion’s share of his purchases to the competition.

Here are several ideas that will allow your sales force to leave their next sales meeting with enough ammunition to improve their performance:

1. Ask two or three of your top salespeople to join the manager or sales manager on a panel. Give the sales force enough advance notice to identify several sales obstacles they are facing and jot each of them down on a separate piece of paper. At the sales meeting, call out the question and allow the panel to respond with their most effective ideas.

2. Invite three loyal customers to attend your next sales meeting and answer questions from the sales force about what services they most appreciate from a salesperson and what it is about your company that makes them such loyal customers.

3. Invite each salesperson draw a number out of a hat to determine the order each salesperson will present a 15-to-20-minute sales presentation on a key product line that the company is emphasizing. What makes this approach especially effective is to capture each presentation on video. When the presentations are over, replay the video and ask the audience to critique each presentation.

4. Ask each salesperson to present to the sales force background and details on one of his or her key prospects. Invite the sales force to make suggestions as to what the salesperson might do differently to penetrate this account.

5. Buy a copy of the One-Minute Salesperson for each salesperson to read, then at the sales meeting, go around the room and ask the salespeople to tell the group what they plan to do differently after reading this little book.

6. Announce a sales contest that will reward the sales force with a weekend getaway if they achieve a measurable goal over a measurable time frame. Goals could include:

o Bring in five new credit-approved customers who purchase a minimum of $10,000 over the next 120 days.

o Identify each salesperson’s year-to-date gross margin. Improve individual gross margin by one percentage point over the next 120 days.

o Achieve a sales goal on an emphasis product line over the next 120 days.

7. Identify specific problems your company’s typical customers frequently face and brainstorm specific techniques to help your customers overcome them.

8. Brainstorm what your company has to offer customers in your industry that your individual competitors cannot match. What sets your company apart from each of your key competitors?

Set a personal goal to make your company’s sales meetings more fun and more effective in 2005.