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Ten Actions You Can Take Right Now To Improve Your Center’s Sales Results

If it is time to increase your sales results, try several of the following techniques. Do not be hesitant to try some of the tougher ones. They will help you “mature” both your sales force and your floor-management.

1) Put the Stack Rankings On A White Board

This is an easy one that all centers should do. We are amazed at how many sales centers hide the sales results. They may have some team results visible, but not individual results. This is usually because they do not want to make the lower performers feel bad, having to see their 28% of quota up on a large board.

There is nothing more motivating, however, than to see yourself at the bottom of a list. It will dawn on you, “Hey, I think I’d like to be out of that bottom slot. I guess it is time to start selling.” The end result will be better performance.

2) Eliminate Certain Negative Vocabulary

In many centers, very negative telephone associates have taken over. They have begun to steer the center’s agent population away from any positive ideals, including the one that says, “Selling is good for us and our customers.”

Before it comes to this, tell your reps that the days of saying, “I wasn’t hired to sell,” or “All we’re trying to do is push products that no one needs,” are over. If they say these things to you, simply ignore the comments. If they say them to other reps, introduce coaching that eliminates them. Require these negative agents to replace the cancerous comments with more positive comments.

3) Eliminate Your Dead Weight

Sales is a unique animal. It is not for everyone, although everyone is capable of selling successfully. In many centers, the HR function is much too employee-friendly and no longer seems to be working for the company’s best interests. Do not let low performers stay in the center indefinitely. Move them out quickly or retrain them to start performing at quota. We joke (sadly) in some of our client centers that the supervisor has so little power to move people out. Their coaching of bottom dwellers could sound like this. “Listen, Bob, if this keeps up, I’m warning you, 18 to 20 months from now, you’ll be out of here, mister!”

Up until recent years, many field sales organizations would eliminate the bottom 10%-20% of their sales force every year! This was a great motivator and it kept the company’s best interests at least on a par with the employees’ best interests.

4) Raise Quota!

If your sales people make quota, but do not make very many sales attempts each day, it is time to up the bar. We realize that a job can become pretty comfortable for a manager and few managers want to throw their centers on their sides. If, however, you want to increase sales, there is no better way to do it than to raise the sales quota. If you do not have a sales quota, today is the day to start outlining one (really last year was the day!)

One way to do this humanely but with black & white expectations is to tell sales people, “Three months from now, your new sales quota will be _________ . Our management team is going to start coaching you to that level of performance right now. That way, in three months, you will easily be able to attain quota and exceed it.” We start coaching and expecting the new goals today, although no one gets in trouble for missing the new goals. Within three months, most sales associates will have no problem making the new grade.

5) Increase the Amount of Real-Floor Coaching that Takes Place Every Day

This one will pay dividends for the rest of your life. In most centers, supervisors and floor managers have a number of hours they are required to be on the floor, “coaching”. The trouble is that 95%-98% of this time is usually spent problem-solving.

If your center has a true sales coaching culture, you already know how well this works. There is no other single strategy we have found for sales success than to implement an effective floor-coaching plan.

We have a saying. “No manager every problem-solved his/her way to quota!” With every new client we work with, we build a proper floor-coaching strategy and schedule that gets results. The best part is that it usually only requires the floor manager to be on the floor for an hour each day in a coaching capacity. In one hour per day of real floor-coaching you can transform your center.

We have another saying (okay, we have a lot of sayings). “Today’s strengths will be next month’s skill deficiencies, without coaching.” Agents do not analyze their performance and the individual skills they used to make their numbers. They just get into good grooves. Observe them. Tell them what they are doing well. They will keep doing these positive things and you will extend that higher-performing period.

6) Simplify Your Sales Training

We see all kinds of training. Most of it is far too complicated and convoluted. We must never forget that all the sales training we do prepares the sales associate for about 50-55 seconds worth of actual dialogue on the phone. That is usually about it.

Look at all your sales training. Throw away any old techniques you no longer require your sales associates to use on the phones. Simplify the rest. Increase the amount of role-playing in the training and reduce the amount of content. It is like cleaning out a closet. At first, it seems like a daunting task. As you get into it, however, it is fairly easy and completely liberating.

7) Increase Agent Compensation

Make a deal with your sales people. Tell them that they are going to be required to sell at a higher level, but you are going to compensate them for it. It is unrealistic to expect high performance for a low-paying job. Increase compensation to get the right sales people, and to keep the ones you have. Once you do, however, you have the right to demand better performance.

8) Start Shopping For Sales People, Not Nurturers

If you are in a service-to-sales center, start looking for people will sales traits, not just service traits, when you hire. Do not prepare them for a nurturing, loving service job if you want service-to-sales performance. Tell them up front. Make sure you have their commitment to sell.

When they call to inquire about the job, ask them to demonstrate their sales ability. Listen closely to how they sound, from volume to clarity to confidence. During the interview, ask them to “sell” you the pen on your desk. It seems corny, but those who hesitate are probably not going to be your future top performers. Selling is similar to acting (I know that seems derogatory to some of you, but it is true). We have to go into character on the phones and be somewhat of a chameleon, changing to the nature of the customer dialogue. Service people are not used to this and do not like it. True sales people may not always like it, but they understand why it must be done and can “turn it on” quickly.

9) All The Evidence Is In The Calls

Start listening to more calls. The entire management team should be listening to several calls every day. If a week has gone by and you have not listened to a call, you are shortchanging your center.

Often, we will hear center managers talk about trends in their center. If these trends have been derived from hearsay or general conversations, they are probably inaccurate. Listen to the calls and you will know exactly what is really going on in your center.

10) “Shape Up” Those Nurturing Floor Managers

Besides increasing floor-coaching, it is time to change your coaching philosophy. You probably have some really loving, caring, nurturing floor managers. Until you transform them into strong, confident, assertive sales performance coaches, you will not achieve your hopes of a profitable sales center.

Whether you have to send them to the Wharton Business School or just sit them down and outline your new expectations, it is time to make the change. You have most likely waited far too long to bring your floor managers up to speed. The nature of our center will be reflective of the nature of our floor management team. “Soft and loving” will not produce solid sales people.

In some cases, you may have floor managers that are no longer the right fit for this job. This is difficult to deal with because we hate to hurt loyal people’s feelings. If you feel like you owe them, place them in new positions in the company, but do not let poor sales coaches determine the fait of your center. You will not like that fait. Neither will your stockholders. In many cases, the floor manager who has been removed will be relieved.

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