Are you noticing your sales pipeline slowing down or struggling to get off the ground at all? In some cases, it's not the salespeople who are to blame! Instead, all too often, bad leadership is causing a slowdown or, worse, a gap in your sales pipeline. If you're noticing problems with your pipeline, consider these signs that bad leadership could be to blame.
Sign #1: Your Salespeople Didn't Receive Proper Training
When difficult sales pop up, your team has no idea what to do with them. Do you notice that your team members are getting stuck on the same basic type of sales, or that they struggle in the same general area each time they need to close a sale? Do you notice team members giving up when sales become challenging? Their training could be to blame. One or two salespeople on the team who have no idea how to close a difficult sale could be a problem with those team members. Problems with multiple team members, however, often suggest a gap in the training process.
Training salespeople is about more than just sales techniques, though that's certainly an important part of the process. Your salespeople should also be able to answer as many customer questions about the product as possible. Most of the time, by the time customers contact your salespeople, they have already checked out what information they can find for themselves, often including doing their research online. If your salespeople can't answer the questions customers have when they contact them, customers may turn elsewhere for their needs--or your sales pipeline may bog down while they try to do research elsewhere. Poor on boarding and training can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales for your company, making it critical that each salesperson on the floor receive proper training.
Sign #2: Your Salespeople Don't Have Clear Goals
In order to create more effective salespeople across the entire organization, they need to have clear sales goals. What is the company goal for the quarter? What about the month? How do those goals break down to impact goals for individual salespeople? Different salespeople may have different capability's, but each member of the team should always be working toward improvement and toward helping meet those overall company goals. Good goals should be:
- Measurable. What is it that your salespeople are hoping to accomplish? How will you determine whether they have met those goals? Without specific goals in place, it can be incredibly difficult for salespeople to meet expectations.
- Reachable. Effective goals for individual salespeople represent something they're capable of doing, not just an arbitrary goal thrown out there or the company goal divided by the number of salespeople on the floor. Some people are simply more effective salespeople than others. To prevent discouragement, it's important to provide each salesperson with a goal that they can reach within the allotted time frame.
- Clear. Does each salesperson know exactly what their goals are? Are those goals broken down in a way that makes it easy for each salesperson to achieve them? Ideally, you want to create goals that are easy to understand and broken down to make it easier for a salesperson to apply them to their daily tasks.
Ideally, not only should your sales team members have clear goals, they should be improving their performance and productivity over time. You shouldn't see the same sales numbers from someone who has been on the team for years that you saw when they first joined the team. An effective leader will not only identify goals, they will identify how those salespeople should be progressing toward their goals, strategies they can use, and anything else they need to know about the sales process as well as providing encouragement along the way.
Effective leaders will help each salesperson set their goals and track progress toward those goals over time. With new salespeople, you may need to have regular meetings to help track their progress and offer suggestions for future improvements. By setting clear goals, you can often improve your team members' performance by 10-20% per month over the course of several months--which could translate to substantially improved sales for your company as a whole.
Sign #3: Your Team Lets Office Politics Interfere
Sometimes, it's not just your sales leaders who cause problems within your department. Playing office politics can shut down your entire sales team, leading to low productivity across the board. In other cases, you may find that office politics limit your sale's teams resources and, ultimately, their ability to provide the high quality customer service your prospects expect. Are you struggling with office politics? Try some of these strategies to limit their impact:
- Avoid gossip. Gossiping takes time away from your actual job tasks while still leaving you mired down in "work." Not only that, gossip appears highly unprofessional to any customers who happen to overhear.
- Communicate clearly within your team. Share information as you receive it. While you don't want to offer privileged information to the whole sales team, you do want to ensure that they receive regular updates and have a solid idea of what's going on in the office, rather than needing to guess on their own.
- Assume customers are always watching. Even if the sales floor seems empty or you're fairly sure that customers are engaged with someone else, keep conversations about what's going on internally away from the sales floor--and, when possible, avoid them when you're on the clock altogether.
Do you need to improve leadership in your organization to create a better sales pipeline? Are you struggling with low sales numbers or a sales pipeline that seems constantly stuck? We can help improve your numbers and develop more effective leaders who have a better understanding, not just of how to take on sales themselves, but of how to develop more effective salespeople throughout the department. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you reshape your sales pipeline and improve your interactions with your team by improving leadership.
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