The greatest leaders are the ones who never let their team rest on their success, or wallow in defeat. At the end of the quarter, avoid screaming at the scoreboard. The final score only gives you the end result. It doesn’t tell you the whole story. It’s your responsibility as a sales leader to help your team uncover and address execution challenges.
It’s lonely for a sales manager at the end of the quarter, especially when revenue numbers fall short. Unfortunately, many of them will go into panic mode, scrambling to rectify the situation. They ramp up the target numbers for next quarter, hoping their sales team will miraculously deliver results. Changing the target number isn’t likely going to be enough to drive success in your sales organization. Instead, help your managers recalibrate and define the steps they can take to improve end-of-quarter results. Here are three areas to assess.
1. Your People
Focus on your people first. Get away from the opiate of the number. Too many times, sales leaders focus solely on the revenue number, and as a result, they fail to correct the key problems hindering their sales team. As Force Management’s Brian Walsh says, “It’s not about the what. It’s about the how.”
Support your people and find ways to meet them where they are. Consider enabling your sales managers to execute a Skill/Will coaching approach. This approach directs managers on how to coach each of their individual salespeople to success, in a way that promotes overall team morale and growth. It’s effective because it gives them a tool to (1) rate salespeople based on their skills and motivation and (2) use that information to meet them where they are and build up them up from there.
If teams are missing numbers, your managers can use the Skill/Will approach to determine which of your reps are succeeding and which ones are facing challenges. If your low performers aren’t making their number and they’re dragging the team down — then it’s likely you have a talent issue that needs to be corrected. If your top performers aren’t making their numbers — you likely have a problem that’s bigger than your people. Your next step is to determine why they’re struggling. Take a deeper dive into the approach to understand how to use it to assess and build top talent.
Beyond skill level and motivation, your salespeople may be facing other execution challenges that are hindering their success. Consider:
- Are your reps consistently losing deals to competitors, including a do-nothing or do-it-internally decision? Then, you likely have a sales execution problem, or your salespeople can’t effectively articulate value and differentiation in front of the customer. Consider these tactics and how to use them to enable your sales force to combat tough competition and win more.
- Do your reps have enough qualified pipeline to hit revenue goals this quarter? If the answer is no, your problem lies in effective territory and account planning, including reinforcement and inspection. Ensure your sales reps have clarity around what a good deal looks like. Then, equip your managers to support and coach reps on moving those deals forward effectively.
- Are your salespeople able to effectively leverage their internal resources throughout the sales process, especially in an opportunity’s final stages? If the answer is no, then your sales process likely needs to be retooled to better identify the resources sellers should capitalize on throughout an opportunity.
2. Your Plan
Remember, your salespeople own the plan to make their plan. Improve this quarter's results by setting the standard for your sales organization around result-driven sales planning.
At the start of every year, your salespeople should be creating and committing to their territory plans. An effective sales plan provides benchmarks for salespeople to hit throughout the quarter and year. The plan also provides you with the critical line-of-sight you need as a sales leader when your salespeople miss the mark.
Use these steps as you assess last quarter's performance and determine how to recalibrate in a way that will drive positive change and results.
- Revisit the plan that was committed to at the start of the quarter.
- Determine where the gaps occurred and how they hindered reps from making their numbers.
- Determine how to correct the problems moving forward.
- Implement a cadence you can use to support your managers in correcting problems and improving front-line results.
3. Your Operating Rhythm
You can’t solve your sales problems with just a timeout. You need a rhythm and a cadence that helps you manage for success and mitigate problems along the way.
All sales leaders should have a structured Management Operating Rhythm®, a sales cadence that keeps you, and your sales managers focused on high-value sales activities. Your operating rhythm not only guides your sales planning and execution strategies throughout the quarter, but it also provides you and your managers with the mechanism to assess problems.
Your MOR is there to prevent your sales organization from having to play catch-up. Use it to determine where your team needs to make the greatest immediate changes. Then, use it to govern weekly, monthly and quarterly sales operations moving forward.
Set Standards, Fix Gaps and Celebrate Wins Next Quarter
If your numbers weren’t where you wanted them to be at the end of the quarter, recalibrate. Focus on defining where execution gaps may be hindering results. Celebrate best practices and help your managers champion those on their team who are executing the right sales activities day in and day out.
This rapid sales assessment may help to provide direction as you outline what your sales organization needs to improve results and work to align on the most impactful initiatives to pursue. It only takes five minutes, then you'll receive a customized report and action steps to consider.