Poor sales results can be a source of frustration for any manager. Here are three ways to help your sales team improve, so you can get better results in the future:
- Check the prospects they are pursuing
- Understand the context for any sales declines
- Realize that end of the year sales pushes will deplete sales funnels
Often, salespeople are pushed to fill up their sales funnel with prospects who are of questionable quality to begin with. Your salespeople are better off having a few, high-quality prospects which they spend more time on, than many prospects who are really just time-wasters. It is better to find out that a prospect is not really qualified in the early stages, as that can cut costs in pursuing unlikely sales opportunities. You might go back to earlier sales opportunities, to see if there are common qualities which indicate sales that are likely to close. You can also check for common qualities which show that a sales opportunity is unlikely to close.
A drop in sales may not be your team’s fault. If the competition introduces a new product or service, if customers experience a shift in needs, or other problems occur, these can all cause a drop in sales through no fault on the part of your sales force. Your team may not only be working hard to make more sales; they could even be working harder to keep the numbers close to what they were in the past. Partner with your best and most trusted salespeople: Ask them what they think could be responsible for lower sales. Work with them to develop a solution so everyone wins, instead of starting the blame game, which helps no one.
If your sales team works hard to close many sales ahead of the year-end (or even before the end of a quarter), it should only make sense that their sales results the following quarter will drop slightly. You might encourage your team to do more prospecting in the middle of the year, when results are less urgent, so that the pipeline is replenished as opportunities are closed at year’s end. You can also have contests to motivate more prospecting towards the third (and early fourth) sales quarters, so the sales drop is minimized.
In other words, if you check the prospects your sales force is pursuing, realize what the bigger picture is for their results, and anticipate lower sales after the end of a sales cycle, you will have a better understanding of why sales results may be lower. This can help you to identify solutions to improve your sales results in future cycles.
Copyright 2010, by Marc Mays