Running a successful sales office
– Michael K. McKean is the CEO and director of new product development for the Knowland Group, a leading provider of business development solutions for the global hospitality industry. The views expressed are his own. –
“A-B-C. A-Always B-Be C-Closing…you close or you hit the bricks.”
This may work for Blake in the classic sales film Glengarry Glen Ross, but sales directors today know it’s not always that simple. No one can create the perfect sales office overnight, anymore than someone can wake up one day as a golf professional ready to win the Masters. Building a successful sales team takes skill, patience, and hard work.
But just as any golfer can quickly up their game with a few short lessons from a knowledgeable instructor, so can you improve your team with a few easy steps.
1. Make your sales managers cold calling experts
Teach your people valuable telesales techniques from the beginning. Things like:
- Start out honestly by telling the prospect why you’re calling and how much of their time you’re going to take.
- Don’t waste the prospect’s time. No one likes a salesperson who rattles on for 30 seconds without letting them get a word in.
- Make sure to schedule a follow-up appointment or phone call before you hang up.
Help your sales managers know what to expect and be prepared for every contingency.
2. Throw out the flimsy leads
Nothing ruins the morale of a group of sales managers faster than giving them a list of dead-end leads. Don’t waste their time and they won’t waste yours. Proactive sales calls should be measured by quality, not quantity. Calling 10 high-level prospects is much more productive than spending hours making 100 arbitrary phone calls.
3. Focus on building relationships
It’s usually not about closing the deal on the first call – especially for large accounts. The first mission for all your sales managers should be to build relationships. Take the time to listen and learn about the potential client before making your pitch.
However, never let the prospect hang up the phone without having a set time to speak with them again. This ongoing conversation will leave potential clients feeling much more comfortable and willing to give you their business.
4. Remember the rule of seven touches
There is a theory that no prospect ever buys a product or service until he or she has been ‘touched’ at least seven times by a salesperson. What this really means is that sales is about creating relationships. And relationships take time. Quite frankly, the rule of seven touches can sometimes turn into the rule of nine touches, or sometimes even 29 touches. As long as your sales manager is reaching out to the prospect in a helpful and comfortable way, then each touch is as important.
5. Networking events can be overrated
While forging those relationships with potential customers is crucial, networking events are usually not the most practical way to go about it. Resources are frequently better spent with sales managers reaching out to prospects one-on-one than competing with dozens of others for a few minutes of their attention.
Networking should be viewed like branding or advertising. Carefully evaluate each opportunity for maximum impact, otherwise it will quickly become an expensive undertaking that generates limited results.
Each of these five tips is a quick way to improve your sales team. Just like a golfer putting a few simple principles into practice, by mastering these techniques you can see measurable progress in a relatively short amount of time.