Your sales kickoff meeting was a bona fide success. Your salespeople are surging with energy, like conquering heroes. They’re saying, “Let’s do this.”
But what happens now that the party’s over?
Out in the field, day after day, your reps will succumb to the demands of the job. Their excitement will fade. So will their recall, and perhaps even their performance edge.
What will it take to keep the sales team at its peak?
In a word: persistence. The lessons you delivered at the SKO must be reinforced all year long.
Prime Your Reps for Success.
The most effective SKOs have realistic training agendas.
As VP of sales, your objective is to maximize the meeting time. You want to pack as much as possible into two or three meeting days.
But too much teaching (what we call “boiling the ocean”) will only overwhelm. Your sales team won’t learn much of anything. Sure, they’ll take copious notes. But they’ll be ill equipped to absorb, internalize, and apply.
Facilitating learning—and ensuring SKO lessons stick—requires a one-two punch:
- Enable the learning process by covering a reasonable number of topics at the SKO.
- Advance the learning process with coaching—continuous reinforcement on the front lines.
Make Coaching a Top Priority.
Coaching is your sales leaders’ most important responsibility. They need to understand this and commit to remaining present and engaged.
Specifically, they must:
Create coaching opportunities.
Go on field rides. Conduct one-on-one sessions. Convene sales meetings. Get creative.
Start cordoning off time for various coaching opportunities. Fill your calendar as far in advance as possible. It’s much harder to sideline something you’ve already set in stone.
Give the team a reality check.
Many salespeople resist coaching because they think they’ve mastered the sales cycle. They believe their negotiating skills, for example, are top notch.
It’s a prickly barrier sales leaders must overcome.
The only way to convince reps there’s room for improvement is to prove it. To do that, you have to evaluate their performance (more on that below). Use concrete metrics to show them the error of their ways. Then give them the knowledge and support they need to grow.
When it comes to instilling important lessons and changing behavior, there is no silver bullet.
Coaching can’t be done a handful of times. It’s an ongoing commitment. It must be delivered consistently over time. Only then will you see results you laid the groundwork for at the SKO.
Evaluate Your Team’s Progress.
How will you know your coaching is having an effect?
At SBI, we look at the following indicators.
- Lagging indicator (revenue)—Is the rep’s average sales price increasing (or average discounts improving)? Or is he or she still “giving away the farm”?
- Behavioral indicator (sales cycle)—Is the sales cycle shortening (suggesting improved negotiating skills)? How many sales calls or interactions does it take to close a deal? Is that number decreasing?
Sales leaders must stay on top of these indicators to identify reps who are falling behind. And they must commit to coaching long term. If they do, their reps’ numbers will continue to improve.
Looking for helpful tools? Download our DILO (Day in the Life of) form to evaluate your sales team members on field rides.