As a sales effectiveness consultant, I engage in lots of conversations across the entirety of a corporate organization. Getting the opportunity to speak with “C” Level Executives all the way to the front line Account Executives provides an incredible view. What’s interesting is the amazing difference in priorities and agendas across the organization. What’s troubling is the feelings that many top-tier (top 10% of a sales organization) Account Executives share.
What they consistently tell me is you’re NOT LISTENING!
Why is this a problem? Your Account Executives are the connection between your organization and your customers. If the Account Executives aren’t aligned and you (The Sales Leader) aren’t listening, how do you expect them to execute your sales strategy?
- What formal processes do I have in place to listen to my sales organization?
- What informal processes do I have in place to listen to my sales organization?
- How am I letting the organization know I’m listening and that I want continuous feedback?
- What am I doing with what I’ve been told?
How to Listen to Your Sales Team (Formally)
Many sales organizations have “Sales Councils,” or a team of sales executives that meet on a frequent basis. Typically these groups function as the sounding board for the sales leader for insights and validation on sales related issues.
How often do you use this forum as a resource to improve your sales strategy?
How often do you ask someone from outside your sales organization to run this meeting so the participants can express their view in a “safe” environment? Remember, all the participants know who makes the decisions on promotions, territories, and careers.
You can really open up this forum, and increase your constructive feedback by getting a “third-party facilitator” to run your next Sales Council meeting. Allow your team to speak openly, and see what happens. You may be surprised with what your sales team thinks about your lead generation efforts, sales compensation, sales process, CRM, etc. You don’t want to lose out on new customers and revenue due to a lack of attention to your sales team.
Here’s a real-life example that may open your eyes: We just conducted an “Expert Panel” at an organization where the participants responded by saying, “We hate the CRM, but our sales leader said, ‘Use it, or get fired!’…so, we log in twice a week so when the report is run, we’re not on the radar.” Is this (or something comparable) happening in your sales organization? Is your sales strategy suffering because of it? Had you asked and been listening, you’d have realized there was a behavior problem that needed adjusting long before it became a major concern.
How to Listen to Your Sales Team (Informally)
Informal conversations and observations also have the power to produce very meaningful insights. As noted in the book “Promoted to VP of Sales: The Year 1 Toolkit“, research shows that the front line is ignored. Don’t let that happen! Make it a priority to spend time in the field with your Account Executives, and while you’re there, ask them questions that can improve sales strategy such as:
- What should we change about our go to market strategy?
- How is the sales compensation plan?
- What is not working today that needs to be fixed?
- What obstacles are preventing sales from success?
Improve Sales Strategy with Feedback:
Great! Now you have 2 separate methods to garner feedback from your sales organization – formal and informal. This will undoubtedly supply you with a number of options for possible tweaking and/or improvement of your overall sales strategy.
Will all feedback from your sales team be beneficial? Probably not. Will some of it be straight out of left field? Probably. But that’s ok!
As the Sales Leader, it is now your job to take this feedback and make the most of it. Pinpoint the feedback that can be most beneficial to your sales organization and implement it the right way. Your number is on the horizon. Make it!
If you’re a new or experienced Sales Leader- take advantage of the currently release e-book by Matt Sharrers- Promoted to VP of Sales: The Year 1 Toolkit. Matt’s book has been downloaded and read by over 1,400+ people. Matt’s insights, perspectives, research and practical views are incredible- read it.