IT Staffing Sales Effectiveness
Sales best practices for improving sales win rates, shortening the sales cycle and increasing overall quota attainment. Sales strategies to make revenue growth repeatable, and scalable
One area in which we invest a lot of time with our customers is educating them on the importance of change management and user adoption. Training, learning and development doesn’t end when the training program concludes; it’s only just begun. In fact, the real work, the heavy lifting, begins once your learner or learners have completed their training. Providing your learners, whether they be front line managers, salespeople or recruiters, with regular and consistent opportunities to practice applying the skills promotes retention. Learners only change their behavior when their direct managers and leaders provide continual reinforcement through a user adoption plan that includes a series of communications, tasks, events and activities before, during and after the program concludes.
Not too long ago I had a customer who hired me to do an assessment of their front line sales managers. The owner wanted me to provide objective feedback on the effectiveness of a few of their Branch Managers including their ability to coach and develop talent. I kicked the process of with an introductory phone call to make introductions and properly set expectations at which time the manager shared with me "I provide coaching all day, throughout the day. My coaching is very hands on and in the moment." I said that is awesome, I look forward to working with you and seeing you in action. When I arrived in the office however I discovered that this manager, like many managers, believed that the purpose of sales coaching was to correct negative behaviors by telling their reps or recruiters what they did wrong, in real time. He would say "do more of X" or "stop doing Y."
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Many sales organizations have invested more time, money and effort over the past few years training their managers to improve their coaching skills then they did in the previous 25. This makes perfect sense when you consider a recent report conducted by the Sales Executive Council shows that no other productivity investment comes close to improving sales performance than sales coaching.
There are managers who coach and mentor their employees and there are those who don't. Sales and Recruiting managers who fail to coach are not necessarily bad managers, but they are neglecting an amazing opportunity and a proven tool for developing and retaining talent and accelerating the growth of their business. I've worked with hundreds of IT staffing leaders over the years and have observed what distinguishes them from managers who fail to coach. What has stood out in my dealings with these leaders who do coach is their attitude and mindset: They simply believe in the value of coaching. They think of their role as a manager as less about managing process, and more about increasing the value and self-worth of their employees. Coaching is a natural part of their "managers tool kit. Keep in mind, these are not professional coaches, they're front line managers who manage a group of sales reps and/or recruiters, they have their own book of business and they're crazy busy, hard-working people like every other manager. So why do they consistently commit to making the time in their daily schedule to coach their direct reports? Here are four reasons why managers should dedicate time to coaching.
Anyone who has been in sales leadership or sales enablement for any length of time knows that the key to transforming average performers into top performers is sales coaching. Yet the excuses for a lack of coaching including time limitations, other competing priorities, compensation plan, or the absence of a formal coaching strategy are just a few of the common excuses for why front line sales managers and recruiting managers don't coach.
Before I dive into metrics to track sales enablement effectiveness, we should first take a quick refresher on what sales enablement is and why it is important. Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales (and recruiting) organization with the technology, tools, processes, methodologies, training, coaching and playbooks that help salespeople sell more effectively and recruiters recruit more effectively.
Frequently I get asked by customers and industry colleagues, "Dan, what are the trends you're seeing in the marketplace?" "Dan, what are some of the best practices you see high growth IT staffing firms adopting? "What are the common characteristics shared across high performing sales teams?" While I wouldn't say there is one specific characteristic or best practice, there is however a growing trend. The trend I'm seeing with many of the most progressive staffing CEO's including the fastest growing IT staffing companies is they're adopting sales enablement as a formal business practice. While this has been a common business practice in other industries for years, only the truly commited, the early adopters, seem to be incorporating sales enablement as a formal business practice in their staffing business. As I wrote in a previous blog, there seems to be much confusion over what sales enablement is and why it matters.
If you work in the sales profession than chances are you’ve heard the term sales enablement. While it has been a hot topic, there seems to be a bit of confusion around what exactly it is and whether or not it's a short term trend or a practice that truly delivers results and is here to stay long term.
IT staffing organizations should be ensuring that their sales reps and recruiters possess the proper knowledge and skills in order to execute on every customer and candidate conversation. I like to refer to this as “conversation ready.” Video coaching is a proven method for certifying that a sales rep or recruiter possess the knowledge, skills, messaging, and tonality and is prepared to execute in the heat of the conversation. This is why top performing staffing leaders incorporate video coaching and video training into their coaching strategy including video recorded role-plays, social learning, sales call planning, certification assessments and other activities.
The end of the year is upon us. Whether your sales team has already met their goal and is taking some much needed time off, or is working while they wrap presents to meet their quota, I've always found year-end to be an ideal time for sales self-education and to focus on improvement for the year ahead. Reading a good sales book is one of the best and quickest ways to improve sales skills and knowledge. I've also found that a really good sales book can be a an excellent source of inspiration. Here are five classic sales books to read this holiday season, all of which will motivate and inspire ensuring you have a successful 2018.