As we head into 2019 many of us are taking the opportunity to reflect on the year gone and plan ahead. Indeed, Britons everywhere will be goal setting over the next few weeks, with two-thirds of people planning to make new year resolutions, according to YouGov. And while the age-old resolutions around exercise, weight loss and healthy eating all remain popular, the new year also presents the perfect opportunity to set fresh targets and goals for your business.
Sales managers should take the time to reflect on their team’s achievements and weaknesses over the past year and use these to plan for future success. This may seem obvious; after all, strategic planning is consistently at the top of large corporations’ lists of priorities, yet up to three-quarters struggle to implement these strategies in order to achieve the goals. With that in mind, your sales resolutions need to be well-planned and carefully crafted in order to set the pace for the year ahead. Here are five key new year resolutions we think all sales managers should be making:
Communicate effectively with your team
Effective communication within the sales team can take considerable effort. The mobile and territory-based nature of modern sales teams and the omnipresence of technology means that email and instant messaging technology can often be the preferred method of communicating, but it’s important to maintain face-to-face communication where you can. One personal goal you could make for yourself is to schedule quarterly ‘sit in’ sessions where you join each sales person on the road and in their meetings, gaining a better understanding of their territory, clients, challenges and opportunities. Similarly, regular sales team meetings and one-on-one sessions with all sales members are important to maintain year-round, helping to develop rapport and promote the sharing of knowledge, concerns and suggestions.
Once you’ve established the best medium for active communication with your sales team, take the time to clarify your expectations, goals and targets for the year ahead. Team sales goals should be communicated in team meetings, while individual targets and development plans can be discussed in one-to-ones. Clear communication of expectations and goals ensure that everyone on the sales team knows what they’re working towards, and personal development plans will help to make your sales people feel valued. With two-thirds of workers saying they’d leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated, you can’t afford to leave your sales people out of the loop.
Always be recruiting
Exceptional sales stars are hard to come by, and the competitive, fast-paced nature of the industry means that not every sales person will stay with your company for the long haul. Sales recruitment should be treated as an ongoing part of your role, as opposed to a one-off exercise when there are departures in your team. And with 51% of sales people leaving for a new role within two years of joining a new company, according to our BMS Index, you need to navigate the challenges of hiring talented sales people quickly by making recruitment an ongoing priority.
January brings with it many business challenges, including being the month when employees are most likely to think about changing jobs. Be prepared before it’s too late – identify the skills and territories you may need covered within your team, and start looking for the best talent to help fill these gaps as they arise. Think about your current team, what’s missing and who might be preparing to leave in the new year. If you make a habit (indeed, a new year’s resolution) to always be recruiting, you’re less likely to make panicked decisions that can result in underqualified candidates.
Become a better coach
Sales coaching should be one of your most important new year resolutions. Effective coaching can not only increase sales people’s performance, according to CEB research, it can also boost team members’ intent to stay with the organisation by as much as 40%. While sales coaching can take considerable time and effort, the new year presents the perfect opportunity to work on your coaching techniques and invest the time and resources into training and developing your team.
Ongoing coaching not only helps to develop your sales people, but it’s a good opportunity to ensure their goals and behaviours align with your company strategy. With 61% of employees unaware of their company’s mission statement, it’s clear that sales managers need to be doing more to define business goals and communicate how sales people contribute to them. Tailored one-on-one coaching sessions with sales representatives will signal your company’s commitment to your team’s development as well as boosting company culture and improving the sales skills within your team. Make it your mission to improve your sales coaching in 2019.
Help your team to grow
Like you, your sales team will have set new year resolutions for themselves. They’ll likely come back into the office hungry for new challenges and thinking about opportunities for their career and progression, and it’s up to you to take advantage of this – or risk losing them to a rival firm.
The new year is the perfect time to sit down with every sales person and discuss where they’re at and where they want to be. Come prepared – look for ways you can develop them, draft up a development plan and consider new opportunities they could take on to help their growth. New accounts, new territories, mentoring and shadowing can all help to encourage this development.
Find new ways to motivate
Sales motivation can be an ongoing challenge of sales managers, particularly as one third of UK staff couldn’t remember a time when they felt motivated at work in 2015. Sales people are motivated by everything from financial reward, such as salary raises, bonuses and vouchers, through to non-financial incentives like greater work-life balance, formal and information recognition.
The key to motivating your sales team lies in the element of personalisation. In 2019, find out what motivates each sales person and align these motivations with your wider sales and business goals. If someone is highly money-motivated and is saving for a deposit on a house, for example, they will be more likely to work harder for a bonus or other financial compensation. Someone who is starting a family may be more enticed by flexible work conditions or the ability to work closer to home on occasion. It’s about finding out what drives each sales person and ensuring your business goals are framed in a way that supports these.
Team up with the best
No matter what your sales resolutions are in 2019, you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you share them with others. At BMS, we can help you to not only hire the best talent to hit the new year running, but also train and grow those already within your team. Contact us here to start a conversation.
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