A key part of sales success is learning how to manage that sales team. In this article we’ll discuss the elements of effectively managing your sales reps.
Construction sales is more challenging than many other industries. Mainly because the sales timeline is often longer. Obviously, it depends on the type of construction business. If you’re sell building materials, the timeline is shorter than selling remodeling or new construction projects.
The Driving Force
Good managers must find ways to motivate their employees in any industry. But most employees have a regular paycheck coming in – whether or not they had a productive day. Sales is different. The driving force for sales reps is money. Any other motivation is secondary. It has to be. No sales; no money. No money; no food, no home, no nothin’.
Your sales manager must do more than manage – they must provide motivational leadership. There are many ways to incentivize a sales team. But just putting out “carrots” and “sticks” is insufficient. A sales team manager must understand how to motivate their sales reps. What works for one sales rep may not work for another. That’s where sales coaching comes into play.
Coaching vs Management
Managing a sales team focuses on tasks and immediate results. There may be long term planning, but it’s typically focused on increasing sales. Managers tend to be task-oriented and are ready to step in to handle any “fires” – problems that arise that need a quick resolution. Coaching is focused on each sales rep on the team. The goal is to develop the sales rep personally and professionally. Great coaches take the time to communicate with each sales rep. They encourage them. A great coach recognizes their role as a teacher.
The manager of your sales team should have a formal sales coaching plan. Elements of an effective sales coaching plan include:
Regular Coaching Sessions
You should meet with each sales rep on a regular basis. For new sales reps this might be weekly. High-performing sales reps may need less time – every 2-4 weeks is often sufficient. A coaching session should include:
Health and happiness review. Even construction sales reps have feelings. Seriously, a good coach cares about how a sales rep is doing mentally and physically. Unhappy sales reps typically have low sales.
Performance review. Here you start discussing how the sales rep is doing not just in dollars – but in growth. Especially for new sales reps. You’ll need to review their performance in terms of time management, people skills, and knowledge of your construction company’s products and services.
Sales pipeline review. What is the sales rep working on now and what’s coming up in the next few weeks? How many leads are they working? How many meetings have they set with prospective clients?
Goal setting. A good coach sets goals with their sales reps based on data analysis and the needs of the sales rep. One sales rep may need goals related to lead generation. Another may need to improve their interactions with prospects. Another may just need a higher sales goal.
Don’t forget to celebrate the wins! A sales rep needs recognition of their successes. The more wins they have, the more wins they want.
A manager looks at the numbers. A coach analyzes the numbers and communicates them to the sales rep in a way that clearly shows their progress. The analysis is part of determining next steps that the sales rep should take to increase sales. Remember that helping a sales rep achieve personal growth is how they will improve their numbers.
Give Them a Push
Even great sales reps can get complacent. A coach pushes them to try different sales strategies and redefine their customer relationships to increase sales. The coach knows when it’s time to push the sales rep to reach higher sales goals.
Document the Plan
The specific goals and next steps form an action plan that both the coach and sales rep agree upon. The plan should be in writing with target dates. A great sales coach tracks the progress of each sales rep and keeps a schedule to meet regularly.
A great coach talks about both their successes and – more importantly – their failures. A sales rep can learn from your mistakes. Especially when you share a failure that is similar to the sales rep’s recent failure and explain what you learned and how you turned it around. Yes, you will show vulnerability. It’s a strength when it’s used to teach others.
Sales coaching is particularly effective when a sales rep tells their manager how the week or the quarter went for them. You may need to prompt them with questions such as, “What was your biggest success?” or “How well do you think you did?” But self-evaluation increases a sales rep’s self-awareness and fosters critical thinking about their performance.
There will likely be many areas for improvement for new sales reps. Try not to overwhelm them. Present one task for them to complete as part of the goal setting for the coaching session. This allows them to focus and makes it easier to measure their progress.
This is where great coaches shine. They inspire each sales rep to be the best sales rep they are capable of being. Actually, they inspire their sales rep to achieve more than they thought was possible. Sometimes it’s in what you say, but often it’s your attitude and demeanor that inspires. Be positive, be calm, and be encouraging. Or as Grandma used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Great coaches take the time to listen to – and learn from – their sales reps. Your coaching should be based upon each sales rep individually. Why? Because they are individuals with different personalities, strengths, goals, and desires. It may be that a particular approach works with several of your sales reps. But don’t dial it in. Be aware of that one sales rep that may need a different approach to succeed.
Give Them More
You’re not the only coach in the room. There are tons of resources available to your sales reps. Use your understanding of each sales rep to point them to blog posts, sales training, webinars, and books to improve their sales techniques.