By Marty D. Blake, Chief Operating Officer, Optimé International Inc.
The path to building a high performing sales organization which exceeds expectations year after year is paved with a number of building blocks and one of the key blocks is consistency. Consistency of capabilities. Consistency of processes. Consistency of tools. Consistency of training and development. All of these are critical to leading an effective and efficient sales team that is positioned to win.
When a sales organization has an inconsistent approach with their customers, whether they are internal or external, you will almost always find less than stellar performance. Consider this – According to world leading researcher, Gartner Inc., in a typical firm of 100-500 employees, an average of seven people are involved in the buying decision. If you don’t have a consistent approach to selling, your message will be lost and you will not hear theirs.
We use the phrase ‘individual best effort’ when it comes to lack of consistency. It’s not that team members are doing the wrong things, in fact, many of them are likely doing the right things. But, as an organization, if you don’t have a consistent approach to working with your customers, then that ‘individual best effort’ becomes very difficult to manage and direct to a successful outcome.
THREE WAYS TO BUILD CONSISTENCY
Clients often come to us looking for guidance on how to build a structured and consistent approach to selling into their organization. While it might seem difficult for them as they race to reach their goals and manage their teams, we show them that it’s not as complicated as they may think.
1 – Have a strong selling process in place.
There needs to be clearly articulated expectations of how a sale is made in your organization. Each person on your team needs to fully understand every step that that is required to engage with the client, what tools and materials exist to support a sale, and what needs to happen to close a sale and place an order. And don’t forget the post-sale engagement and hand-off to your internal team to fulfill promises made and customer expectations. Once you have a well-defined process, you have to integrate it into everything your organization does.
2 – Having the right tools.
This one should likely come first – because it will become a significant part of the selling process I just discussed. “Tools” might mean something different to each organization. It might be a powerful CRM system, custom designed for your company. It might also be a simple template. Essentially – it is the mechanism that you use to plan for every single sales meeting, sales call or customer annual plan. Whatever your engagements may look like – having a consistent set of tools across the organization will ensure that everyone is working with clients in a logical and uniform way.
3 – Reinforce. Reinforce. Reinforce.
So, once you have the best processes and tools in place – you need to continually reinforce them with regular opportunities to develop through training – right across your entire organization. Remember, this is not an event – not a one time thing. Keep pushing the envelope on development, enroll and engage new hires joining the team and challenge your current team members to both ‘sharpen the saw’ and acquire new higher-level capabilities. This is an ongoing process and within that training environment, it’s critical that your leaders and managers are embracing these elements of consistency that are so important to the organization – by taking accountability to develop the talent on their team.
ORGANIZE THE INDIVIDUALITY
Leading a best-in-class sales organization doesn’t have to be complicated – but it does take planning and a structured consistent approach. Don’t fall into the fear that a consistent approach will remove individuality from your sales teams – it won’t. Consistency levels the playing field and creates and instinctual approach to customer engagement thereby allowing each individual on a team to rise to the challenge. They already know what to do…now they have the freedom to focus on their personal strengths and their clients.
Check out www.optime.com to find more tools and tips to take your sales organization from good to outstanding.
Good luck and good selling!