Time. Such a fleeting thing for most of us. Busy sales managers are on a merry-go-round as they try to keep up with long To Do lists, fewer resources and constantly changing economies, technology and processes. We can’t add a 25th hour in our day, so the question becomes how do we get more time? By being more timely.
A survey by the Sales Management Association (SMA) found disparity on how sales managers actually spend their time compared to how they WANT to spend their time. The largest difference is in how much time they want to spend with their sellers. The demands of corporate administration outweigh sales managers’ best efforts to accomplish the real goal of a sales manager: Make sales numbers through field salespeople!
Duh, right? This isn’t anything you don’t know. You know you are stretched thin. So, wouldn’t it be great if you could e-x-p-a-n-d your time? You can… while you help your sellers prepare to beat the competition, capture more market share and sell more …when you are timely with your sales team!
The time you spend developing your sellers to be more competent and confident pays huge dividends with increased sales and giving you precious time! There are several ways to be timely with your team:
- Field Rides and Partner Selling
- Individual Coaching
- Sales Meetings
All of these actions are necessary and important ways to develop your sellers and meet sales quotas. But which one will expand your time most quickly? Your sales meeting. An effective sales meeting makes a HUGE difference for your ENTIRE team.
How much time do most sales managers spend with their sellers? The SMA survey found that most sales managers spend just 45 minutes a week with each seller. A sixty-minute sales meeting can quickly double that!
It’s really easy to brush off bringing the team together. After all, isn’t every minute in the field the most important use of everyone’s time? Probably not, because the benefits of consistent and timely connections outside the “front line” include increases in:
- Readiness – prepare to maximize every sales opportunity by strengthening sellers’ skills, mindset and knowledge.
- Recharging – it’s tough out there. Sellers need time to be re-energized to give it their all back in the field. Better with you and their colleagues rather than the local coffee shop.
- Repeatable – the team needs time to review and learn from each other so all can repeat what goes well and stop what is not working as soon as possible. Sellers like to know they’re not alone in the field. Their sales colleagues have the same frustrations, challenges and home-runs. Now they can stop wasting time trying to figure out what they should/should not be doing or calling each other for (?)
- Retention – Turnover decreases when there are regular touch-backs with you and the rest of team.
So, if these benefits are important, then how do you ensure your meetings are timely? Several ways:
- Hold regularly-scheduled meetings.
Meetings need to be held often enough to keep sellers at top performance. Autos need oil changes every 5000 miles, how often do your sellers? Weekly meetings with a purpose are still the ideal.
- Focus the time with your team on what is most important – help them sell more to reach (or exceed) their goals and energize them. Many meetings default to “sharing” of numbers, product updates, operation issues, or process changes. If there is a lot of “sharing” needed, narrow it down to the basics for the “live” time together. Use other means (handouts, emails, etc.) to share the nitty gritty details.
- Focus on different “times.” Past, Present and Future are all important. Most meetings I have observed focus on the past and the present. More of that is “sharing” of information. A meeting becomes timely when more focus is on the future – equipping sellers to sell more, get in front of more people and build their confidence and competence to exceed quotas.
When Alice Kemper was a sales manager at Harte Hanks Communications, she broke her 60-minute weekly sales meeting into 45 minutes of training and 15 minutes of need-to-know info. Her results speak for themselves. “Our team had less turnover and higher results that many of the other teams. And each time a new branch was opened, the new manager-to-be was selected from my team. That time investment was a strategy (for….).”
A guideline: Break whatever meeting time you have into:
10% focused on the past (sales results, wins, losses, etc.)
10% on the present (current promos, operations updates, etc.)
80% building for the future
For a 60 minute meeting that’s about 10 minutes of what happened, 10 minutes of present information and 40 minutes to help them capture more sales in the future!
Want to capture more of that elusive time? You will, when you expand your time and efforts as you deliver timely sales meetings.