We all have some sort of principles that we live by, some of us write them down and some of us just know what they are in our head. They are the things that guide us in our decisions, and the choices we make.
The field of sales is no different, every salesperson and every company should have a set of guiding principles, or what I like to call the five silver bullets of sales.
- Training and Coaching
- Non-Negotiable Sales and Customer Service Standards
- Goals and Objectives
- An Accountability Structure
- A Training Process
Let’s take a look:
Training and coaching
Every sales manager is responsible for making sure their sales staff is trained in four specific areas. Most salespeople who leave the field do so because they don’t have the basic tools. Those tools are:
• Sales techniques: Every salesperson should be trained from the day they start to the day they leave. Those techniques include but are not limited to; closing techniques, business and non-business conversations, overcoming objections and anything else that is unique to your company.
• Product knowledge: You cannot expect your salespeople to sell engagement rings if they don’t know everything about them. Part of their training must include two things; training them on your current product lines and training them on how to stay up to date as products change.
• Operations: How does your invoice system work? How do things get entered into the computer? How does your layaway program work? These are all examples of operations and things that every salesperson should be trained on.
• Customer service: It goes without saying that customer service is the backbone of selling and the training here should never end. Make sure all your salespeople know of your standards and take the time to role play and continue training no matter how long a salesperson has been with you.
These are the standards that a sales manager should expect from their salespeople but that’s only part of the story. It’s easy to tell people what you expect, it’s another to help people get there. That’s called coaching and it is a vital part of a sales manager’s job. What’s involved in coaching:
• Lay out the expectations: If you expect certain standards to be met, then you must be clear about what you want.
• Give feedback: Constant feedback to your salespeople, both good and bad, will help them be the best salesperson possible.
• Morning huddles: Get together with your sales staff daily; talk about the day just past and what to expect today. Recognize the positive things that have been accomplished by your salespeople and talk about the things they could do better as a team. These meetings are important for several reasons but keeping touch with your staff and letting them know that they are being held accountable are the most important.
• One-on-one meetings: The morning huddles are great for sending the team a message, but one-on-one meetings are vital in the success of the individual salesperson. Take the time to meet with each salesperson on a regular basis; talk about their successes, help them set individual goals and don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism.
Coaching involves getting the best out of people and giving your staff help in order to achieve their goals. Helping your staff get better is your primary job as a Sales Manager. Be proactive with your staff and coaching, and you will be rewarded.
Non-negotiable sales and customer service standards
All great companies have a set of non-negotiable sales and customer service standards. These are things that the company feels so strongly about that they would be willing to write up and eventually terminate a person for not adhering to the standards. Sales Standards are those things that will have a direct effect on sales and/or profits. Customer Service Standards are those things that will have an impact on the customer’s first and last impressions of the company. Any organization is not going to be as successful as it could be if these standards are not adhered to.
Sales and Customer Service standards should never be compromised. All your salespeople should know what the standards are and what is required to meet them. There are five criteria for implementing Standards
- The Standards Themselves
- The Justification Behind the Standard
- Trained on How to Adhere to the Standard
- The Rewards for Adhering to the Standards
- The Consequence Should the Standards Not be Met.
As a sales manager, your first responsibility is to make sure your customers are being taking care of. Having a set of sales standards and customer service standards will help you ensure you are doing just that. Here are a few ideas of what I think your non-negotiable customer service standards should be:
- Don’t tell people what you can’t do, tell them what you can do.
- Must introduce yourself and whenever possible, use your customer’s name.
- Must sincerely thank every customer and invite them back.
- Must send thank-you notes for any purchase over $300 and to those customers who have good rapport with the salesperson.
- Must look for opportunities to provide heroic customer service.
- Must use proper phone etiquette. Always answer the phone with good morning, afternoon or evening, the name of the store and your name. If you must put someone on hold, ask permission, and take complete message if the customer is leaving a message.
Some examples of sales standards include:
- Must acknowledge every customer with a warm friendly greeting and a smile within the first 10 seconds.
- Must attempt to add-on with every sales opportunity.
- Must attempt to close once the merchandise is shown to the customer.
- In every sales presentation, must either make the sale, offer VIP Card getting permission to follow-up or turnover the sale.
It’s hard to be successful in anything without goals and the job of any successful sales manager involves setting goals for their team. Here are some things to remember when setting goals:
- Set monthly and yearly goals: Set a goal on any statistic that you are tracking. For example: Total sales to goal, add-on percentage of total sales, closing ratio.
- Daily and weekly numbers are not goals: Those numbers are considered targets and can be used to help your staff reach their goals.
- Goals must be attainable: Goals should motivate people, but they shouldn’t be impossible to attain. The sales manager must set goals based on facts and not opinions. Using mathematical formulas will insure that goals are set properly.
- Goals should be written and posted: As with your standards, goals for your staff should be written down and posted where everyone can see them daily.
- Set individual and team goals: Every salesperson should have their own goals to strive for and those should relate to the team goals.
There are obviously more things that go into good goal setting, but the bottom line is this, goals should challenge your staff. Don’t forget to constantly reevaluate your goals and adjust them as needed.
Accountability numbers allows a manager to manage the store and the staff based on facts and not opinions. The biggest mistake a manager can make is managing based on their opinion, too often opinions are incorrect. Statistics don’t lie, they just are what is. Accountability numbers or Statistics also allow for the manager to give the positive reinforcement that your sales people need to feel appreciated and recognized. Below are some things that should help you do both:
- What numbers should you track: I believe that total sales to goal, closing ratio and add-on percentage of total sales are the primary numbers.
- The Numbers are the results: The manager cannot manage a result, they must manage, train and coach the actions that got the result!
- Track daily, weekly and monthly: Don’t wait till the end of the month to catch a problem. Tracking constantly will allow you to stay ahead of potential issues.
- Only Compare Individuals to Store Averages: Never compare one salesperson to another salesperson, you only compare individuals to the store averages. The last thing I would want is to cause internal conflicts among the staff.
- Keep them posted: Keeping the numbers keeps your staff thinking about the numbers. While I don’t encourage staff competing with one another, there is nothing wrong with them seeing how other staff are doing. It might be the shot in the arm they need to kick it up a notch.
Accountability is the only way to ensure that your standards are being met.
A Sales Training Process
I recommend IAS Training’s Sales Training & Sales Management Training Programs, Tests for Aptitude & Proficiency, Sales Management Accountability Process and the Weekly Sales Training Process. If you create an environment of personal growth and development, your people and thus your stores will be successful.