About Urmas Purde

Co-Founder of Pipedrive. 10+ years of sales and sales training experience. These days makes sure feedback from our customers gets built into product.

6 Deadly Mistakes Great Salespeople Avoid

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Every now and then I meet salespeople who are extremely creative in developing lists of excuses. You know the ones – the economy’s still bad, our prices are too high, and so on (there’s actually a neat little list up at Fearless Selling). We’ve previously talked about what makes a successful salesperson.

But after hearing these excuses over and over again, I decided it was time to turn the subject around and talk about what kind of mistakes great salespeople avoid; how and why do others lose their potential sales, and how is all of this connected to our conception of what sales success is.

The mistakes: 

1) Not blocking in the time for prospecting.

This, ultimately, is the lack of discipline. If you don’t take the time every day to put in new conversations into your sales pipeline, you’re going to run into trouble at the end of the month when you have no new opportunities coming up.

2) Focusing on the wrong KPIs.

This one’s a simple mistake to make. If you’re that person who only keeps their eye on the month-end revenue target, then you’re not doing it right. You can’t control revenue. But you can control the activities that’ll help you find new opportunities, or advance the ones you have. Set a target for how many emails, calls and demos you should do every day or week and follow that target. I can assure that you’ll eventually notice an increase in your month-end figures purely because of focusing on specific activities.

3) Being too receptive to criticism.

When I took my first sales job, I was immediately told that I need to get covered with teflon – the stuff they cover frying pans with – so that no bad sentence or insult told would ever stick. You know that after a certain amount of prospects saying no there will be one in need of your product or service. Don’t let yourself being influenced by the ones didn’t buy when going to the next one that could be the buyer.

4) Preparing too much.

Yes, you still need to have sales skills, you probably need some scripts, and yes selling is often all about preparation. But there is a thin line between wasting time and actually going out selling. Trying to figure out the best possible response for every situation – it just makes no sense. You learn much better by doing sales with real prospects. Don’t get scared of not knowing everything, no one ever does. Plus, you still have that teflon skin when something does backfire.

5) Burning bridges with leads who didn’t buy.

You as a professional salesperson are out there to consult your prospective customers as to whether they have a genuine need for purchasing or not. This consulting process brings value to the consumer, as well as you, regardless of whether they purchase – they will at least have a better understand of their needs and a good understanding of solutions to use after you are done. If they don’t purchase, you should never burn any bridges, because in 6 months time their mood, resources or interests may have changed. The decision-maker may move into another organization etc. Point being, once you start holding grudges, you start losing potential deals in the future.

6) Not creating a buying atmosphere.

It’s all about your intent – defining it for yourself, selling the intent to your prospect and establishing trust within the process. The best sales professionals bring buyers closer to being honest with each other, not take them further away. Don’t try to sell your prospects something they don’t need, don’t mislead them, don’t cheat. They can feel it and they won’t buy. Or they distance themselves, won’t share their actual needs with you, and thus make their decision on the wrong grounds. This means that when they finally receive your product or service, they may be inherently disappointed – in you, in your company, in your product – it will backfire.

Now the first thing I ask of you is simply not to commit these mistakes. Instead, do these two things:

1) Think about the specific activities that help you obtain new sales opportunities and advance the ones you have. Regardless of whether they’re calls, meetings, emails or other pursuits, find them out, set them as goals and keep on doing them daily.

2) Turn on the Goals feature in Pipedrive and start tracking of how many new opportunities you add every day or week. Or how many opportunities you manage to advance into a stage that gives both you and the customer a good reason for final negotiation. That way there will always be something to close…

Do you have anything to add to this list? Post them to the comments section below.

 

How to avoid the trap of “making sales people busy”?

We recently launched Sales Pipeline Academy to help you improve your sales (pipeline) skills. We’ve received several good follow-up questions, here’s one from our customer George:

“Many companies drive number of visits by their sales people. But this can drive the wrong behavior – lots of random meetings. Don’t get me wrong – it’s important to be in front of the customer. But it needs to be in front of the RIGHT customer — one that has a good fit with the product. /…/ 

What do you encourage companies’ management to monitor to prevent this trap of making sales people busy on the wrong kinds of visits?”

This is a great question (boy do we love good questions, so keep ‘em coming!) and this inspired me to reply in the form of a blog post. First and foremost, you’d need to convince the company management to get rid of the EITHER OR mindset.

The key principle is that you should only be having meetings with qualified clients. If a salesperson is spending time seeing unqualified clients then he’s made a mistake in an earlier stage. Not qualifying or not doing it well enough can indeed lead to the wrong kind of behavior. However, you CAN measure qualification success. And what you can measure, you can control.

I’d suggest three things to address this issue:

  1. Monitor stage-to-stage conversion — in this part of your sales pipeline analysis, take your top sales agent and see how many leads he/she qualifies from stage to stage.
  2. You can set this conversion rate as a benchmark for the rest of company. If the standard sets out a 50% stage-to-stage conversion, but one agent takes it up to 75% without closing more deals in the end, then it’s clear he’s bringing along too many unqualified leads.
  3. Last but not least, keep in mind when you’re setting benchmarks for conversion (or anything else) that you need to sell and explain them to the team. The implementation of the benchmark cannot be successful if you bluntly impose it upon people.

Happy closing!

How to build a sales pipeline? The 4-step guide.

build a sales pipelineIf you’ve ever looked at your diary, notebook, sticky notes, and Inbox in the middle of a busy sales period and thought ‘this isn’t working’, then you’re not alone. I used to try to organize my thoughts and ideas without structure and the result was that I kept missing opportunities and sales forecasts. Then, I found the answer – the concept of sales pipeline. I now had order where there had been chaos; I could take the initiative and take control of the entire sales process. Here are a few of the ideas that worked for me when I was building my pipeline.

1. Decide what your ideal pipeline looks like

Let’s start by mapping out your pipeline so we can see how it looks. When you get those first ideas about people and companies that might need what you sell, you’re already taking the first steps in building a pipeline. You probably have more than one ideas for prospects. Some of those will go all the way through and will close, and others won’t, but these conversations and how they progress form your pipeline. You build a pipeline by creating a number of steps from that initial idea to a closed sale – these are your sales stages. These might be:

  • Targets (very early days, not yet contacted)
  • Contacted (you’ve called or emailed)
  • Meeting Agreed (you’ve agreed an agenda and a date for the diary)
  • Proposal Sent (you’ve submitted a formal proposal with a $ figure)
  • Close (now it’s time to get the signature on the bottom line)

But, that’s only part of it. It’s important to remember that your sales stages have to mirror the buying stages of your prospects or customers. You’ll see I included ‘proposal sent’ in the stages – that’s because typically one has to submit a fully costed proposal to customers, as it’s a requirement in their ‘buying cycle’. Everyone’s buying cycle is different, but trust me, it helps to have a good idea of your customers and how they like to buy.

2. Calculate the ‘magic numbers’

The magic question is: how many deals do you need to add to your pipeline to make your objectives? It would be great to win every deal you’ve submitted a proposal for, but this doesn’t happen. If you know how many deals you win on average, you can easily calculate the number of deals you need in each of the early stages. We explain more about this in a short video blog. If you calculate your numbers, you’ll be able to see how your pipeline looks and what number of deals you need to be adding to the top of the pipeline to reach your goals.

3. Build stage-to-stage momentum

Once you have your pipeline stages laid out, you have to keep deals on track and moving from ‘target’ to ‘deal won’. When you’re moving your deals stage-to-stage what are the factors or variables that will help you advance your deal? It could be sending a written a proposal, identifying the stakeholders or it could be budget approval – there’s an event at each stage that moves the deal along.

It’s a good habit to set yourself objectives for these key events. You can control the activities you do to keep the pipeline moving, not the results. Setting yourself objectives that relate to how many proposals you send and new prospect calls you make per day is the best guarantee that your deal flow doesn’t stall.

4. Find your routine to fill the pipeline

Activities that add new deals to your pipeline need to be part of your routine – daily, or depending on your business, weekly. Back in my days of active sales I liked to start every day with a cup of coffee and that’s when I did calling and prospecting to find new deals. It worked for me because it was a habit. You might have to try out different ideas before you find a routine that suits you; a particular time of day, a day of the week or a regular slot in your diary when you can really focus on putting deals into the pipeline. When you keep that focus and habit for finding new targets you don’t need to worry about your sales pipeline.

Pro tip 1: do similar kinds of calls together with a team-member. This introduces a competitive element and adds a bit of ‘peer pressure’.

Pro tip 2: use good sales management software. I’m confident Pipedrive will help anyone close more deals.

If you follow these ideas to build a sales pipeline, you’ll like the results. In summary, work out what your stages will be and what it takes to move deals from one stage into the next. Then, adopt a healthy approach to your pipeline building activities – it will help you meet your numbers. And, that in turn will help you build a successful business.

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Is Your Sales Pipeline Healthy? Here’s a Useful Guide

Those with some sales experience under the belt know that sales is a numbers game. But how come sales results change so much even after you’ve defined your sales stages and calculated your conversions? How do you tell if your pipeline is ‘healthy’? Apart from the obvious ‘Am I hitting my sales target?’ here are 5 key questions to ask yourself:

sales pipeline health

1. Do I have enough prospects at each stage of the pipeline?

A healthy pipeline will have prospects at each stage. It sounds obvious but if you focus all your activities on closing deals in the later stages, without filling the pipeline at the beginning, you’ll be left high and dry once those deals have closed and the beginning of your next month won’t feel great.

I like to know that I have deals in each stage that can realistically be moved onto the next stage, and keep the pipeline moving. How much is enough? If your stage-to-stage conversion rate is 50% then “enough deals” is based a ratio of 8:4:2:1 for each stage. You can use the sales pipeline calculator to find the exact numbers for you.

2. Is my pipeline moving?

A pipeline needs to flow. If a deal stays too long at one stage (and how long is too long will depend on the nature of the business) then chances are it’s not going to progress or close. If that’s the case, take a hard look at the deal and either qualify out or move to a separate nurture stream.

If deals stay in one stage longer than you expect, it’s time to sort them out. Move any deals that feel ‘lukewarm’ into your nurture stream, leaving behind deals that will continue to flow through the pipeline. Don’t waste your time on deals that look like they’ve stalled.

3. Do I have enough leads at the first stage to hit my target?

The top of my funnel is no-one’s favorite place to be working – we all want to be closing deals. But the top of the funnel requires special attention. Back in my active sales days I developed some habits that helped me keep my funnel topped up. My early stage was called ‘ideas’ – these were people that I hadn’t yet contacted but thought I had a good proposition for. I kept a list of these and jotted new ones down when I thought of them. I liked to keep this list topped up – at least 20. If a qualified lead came in as a referral, great. But if not, I had my own list I could tap in to in order to fill the pipe.

4. Do I know which deals to focus on?

I know I won’t close every deal in my pipeline. I’d like to think I could do that, but experience tells me otherwise. Some sales people have a very scattergun approach to sales, and chase after everything that moves. The best sales people set qualification criteria and rigorously apply these at each stage. They know which deals to focus on and have a better idea of how many are likely to close and how many will drop out at each stage. Qualify, qualify, qualify – as the old saying goes.

5. Is my pipeline accessible and up to date?

A healthy pipeline should be open and visible to everyone involved in the sales process. You’ve got to keep it up-to-date and review it regularly otherwise it’s worthless. I’ve found that there’s often an added benefit to having a central view of the sales pipeline – a bit of healthy competition within the team. It also means that the team can leverage other people’s connections, if needed.

If your pipeline is clearly visible, across your business, there are fewer places to hide if you’re not updating your information or keeping on top of your deals. Do check out Pipedrive if you don’t yet use sales management software. It sports a handy sales dashboard among other things.

Looking after sales pipeline health is equally important whether you’re running your own business or ‘working for the man’. After all, a healthy business depends on a healthy pipeline. If you can answer yes to the majority of questions above then chances are you’re in pretty good shape.

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Deal ‘rotting’ – or how to keep your deals moving in Pipedrive

We’ve been hiding a secret from you. Not in the worst kind of way, it’s just that we rolled out a new feature some months back which we haven’t yet told you about. But first a bit of background.

Why do deals sometimes go ‘rotten’

I’ve sold big-ticket trainings for a good chunk of my career. We hadn’t built our own CRM system Pipedrive then, and our “CRM” sucked big time, so I visualized my sales pipeline on my office wall, using orange post-it notes. It was on the wall facing the sun, so in summer the color of the post-its started to fade after about 2-3 weeks. Incidentally, this coincided with the maximum length of a healthy deal. If I hadn’t closed a deal in 3 weeks, I had a very slim chance of closing it at all. The deals on faded post-it notes had gone ‘rotten’.

Deals sometimes go ‘rotten’ when intent and circumstances on the buyer side are weak, but more often than not they go bad when a sales person doesn’t do the job of following up very well. This may mean asking qualifying questions like “do you have all the information to make the decision this week”, or simply failing to pick up the phone at the right time.

‘Rotten’ deals in Pipedrive show the deals you need to work on

The ‘rotting’ feature is designed to keep your sales pipeline lean and healthy. It works essentially as a visual reminder that the deals that have not been touched for a good period of time could use a little attention. Once it’s enabled and configured, your main pipeline will display a red hue over the deals that have remained idle for awhile. So it’s a bit like post-it notes starting to fade.

You can choose the number of days that will trigger deals to be displayed as ‘rotten’ for each stage in your pipeline. For example, you could set up your pipeline to have deals rot in your first stage after 5 days of inactivity, and have your deals rot after only 2 days of inactivity in a different stage of your pipeline.

Learn how to set up deal ‘rotting’ or simply watch the video below.

How to measure sales skills

measuring tapeAs a sales manager and trainer in my previous career I spent a lot of time trying to measure and quantify sales skills. The word trying is telling here, because although we managed to come up with useful tests and training methodologies, there were a significant number of those that failed the tests and did poor in training programs, but closed sales like there was no tomorrow.

I kept looking and the best proxy I have found is sales pipeline metrics. In my experience, which is extensive by some standards, there is no better indication of a sales person’s skills. More specifically I would highlight 4 indicators: pipeline velocity, size of deals, number of deals and conversion.

If you’re just getting started in sales pipeline management, you may want to check out this post about defining the sales cycle for your business before reading on. If you know the basics, here’s how these four metrics help to measure sales skills:

1. Measure how fast deals go through the pipeline

You can measure the average age of deals at each sales stage or the average across the whole length of the sales cycle. Alternatively, you can measure the average time it takes to close a deal. Let’s compare two hypothetical sales people to see why this is useful. If Tim closes deals in 6 weeks on average and Sarah does it in 3 weeks on average, there must be a big difference in their skills or work methods.

Based on these numbers Tim doesn’t have the habit of continuously gaining small agreements (sometimes called mini-closes) during the sales process. Velocity tends to be low (or deal ages high, whichever way to look at it) if you don’t pay attention to signs of danger and don’t clear up potential misunderstandings and are hunting for the “big yes”.

Sarah’s pipeline velocity is a good indicator she uses confirmations like “So if I understand correctly you’re willing to consider our solution if it helps you save more than $5000?” Furthermore, she probably takes matters into her own hands during the sales process, and reguraly checks in to see if another decision has been made by a potential customer.

Pipeline velocity increases with time ie. it’s higher for more experienced sales people. If not, it’s a danger sign. You can get even more specific if you start measuring deal age by each sales stage.

2. Measure the average size of a sale

Like deal velocity, the average size of deals is something that should increase with time, assuming the business you’re in doesn’t have constraints for deal size. Average size is a very good indicator of negotiation skills and confidence. It shows whether someone has the guts to go after the big fish and whether you can identify needs during meetings or calls. If people have some freedom to decide who to contact, average size of the deal shows how well one can choose the right prospects.

Another thing the average size of a deal shows is how good a salesperson is at finding out the real needs of prospects and matching them to more and/or more premium products.

3. Measure the number of deals or leads in the pipeline

It’s useful to measure how many leads/deals someone can add in a time period and what’s the total number of deals in the pipeline. If the number of new deals/leads is smallish it’s a good indicator that either they are not very good at initiating first contact or they simply don’t work hard enough.

Number of deals added shows sales skills as well as work ethic. The number of deals added to a pipeline on a regular basis is, and will be, one of the best indicators of sales success, regardless of intelligence or skills.

4. Measure total win conversion, and conversion by stage

Most managers and sales people measure win ratio, and once again the information is much more useful if you look at it by sales stage. For example if Sarah has a 66% conversion from “First meeting done” to “Proposal made” stage and if it’s 33% for Tim, this may mean one of two things. It’s either that Sarah is much better at turning a prospect’s needs into identifiable “pain” or that she tends to waste time with hopeless cases. Therefore, you should always look at this metric relative to other team members.

This last point applies for all the metrics I’ve described. If you know pipeline velocity, size of deals, number of deals and conversion for each team member and each sales stage, you have a pretty good idea of everyone’s sales skills, at least relative to each other. What’s most important in my opinion is that these numbers can be dramatically improved by small changes all the time, for example, by deciding not to hang on to initially promising leads that have become unresponsive. This change alone can result in better numbers, and there are many more to make.

Please note you don’t need to track every metric at all times – it’s better to pick the metrics that matter the most in your business and focus on those. And sometimes it’s useful to turn these into index-type indicators, for example  #Deals x $ Deal size x %Conversion / deal velocity.

In conclusion, in my view pipeline metrics are the best indicators of sales skills. If you’ve come across even better ones, please do add a comment or get in touch.

Image courtesy: michaelaw

Sales tools for modern email warriors

There used to be a time where most sales people were “road warriors”. Rarely in the office, they were out there looking for the next big deal. Things have changed, and today many of us spend an increasing amount of time at our desks and with ever-growing number of unread emails. (Or is it just me?). I’ve put together a short list of tools that help to get organized and win more time for talking to customers.

The basics – schedule time for reaching your activity goals

If you have set activity goals (which you should), make sure you’ve allocated time for getting them done. The main reason for underperformance is bad execution, not lack of sales skills. Setting a schedule helps to organize your week and ensures that you don’t miss meetings or calls with clients. There are lots of calendars out there, I’ve ended up using Google Calendar because it syncs well with other software.

Get smart about using email

If you let your inbox dictate what you’ll get done each day or week, there’s a very slim chance you’ll get anywhere. Luckily there are a couple of tried and tested email/Gmail tools that can help you stay in control over your inbox.

My personal favourite is SaneBox. It helps you focus only on important emails. And it really delivers on that promise! It’s like hiring a little invisible robot that cleans your inbox after it has analyzed your contacts and e-mail behaviour. SaneBox has assessed a couple of emails incorrectly for me, but the good news is it learns as you go, and gets better.

Boomerang for Gmail gives you the option to clear certain messages out of your inbox until you need them, as well as set reminders to follow up with a client if you haven’t heard back in time. I know many of our customers use it.

Yesware is another Google add-on that may be useful in sales. It shows how clients are responding to your emails and which messages are opened and shared. It also gives you the opportunity to create customized email templates, for example a template for a “cold” email to a new prospect. Last but not least, Yesware allows syncing all your emails to the CRM software of your choice. See Timo’s post about it.

See where your time “leaks”

It never ceases to amaze me how fast a day can go, without getting much done. If you’re not sure where your time disappears, check out Rescue Time. It keeps tracks of all your activities and shows where you could be wasting time. Furthermore, with the Focus feature, you can choose how much time to spend on a certain task. If you fall off course it can even block access to websites like Facebook or your email account.

Last but not least, use sales software that makes your life easier, not harder

Sales software should do more than be a register of your customer data. A good sales CRM shows how well or poorly you are doing and helps you benchmark against your goals and focus on the deals that need attention the most. And it shouldn’t slow you down with endless amounts of menus, options and confirmation boxes. We’ve poured our hearts into making sure Pipedrive helps to do all of the above, but of course we’re not the only game in town.

Any of these tools can help you increase productivity but bear in mind that different tools work for different people. It’s best to try several and stick to those that work for you, otherwise you could become weighed down with software you aren’t using effectively. When used properly, however, the benefits you see will be priceless.

How to define sales cycle stages

Early on in my sales career, I realized a couple fundamental truths about sales. That you can’t control results but have complete control over activities you do. And that when you put effort into activities, results will improve.

This is straightforward when you work on your own, but when you work in a team, some ground rules are needed. Otherwise you may have people doing more activities, but without results improving, because they are not doing the right activities. A team needs a shared understanding of the optimal sales process and speak the same language, if you will.

For example, if the best practice is to make initial contact, identify needs as the next step and then send a quote, you don’t want some of your sales people sending out lots and lots of quotes without asking customers about their needs first.

Setting the right sales pipeline stages gives you more control over sales results

Working with the sales pipeline model helps you define the best process for sales and measure what gets done. You can then start managing sales activities at key stages within your sales process, and ensure that the whole team focuses on things that give the best result.

A typical sales pipeline might look like this:

  • Target (very early days, not yet contacted)
  • Contacted (you’ve called or emailed)
  • Meeting Agreed (you’ve agreed an agenda and a date for the diary)
  • Proposal Sent (you’ve submitted a formal proposal with a $ figure)
  • Close (now it’s time to get the signature on the bottom line)

If leads go through the sales cycle in this order, and you increase the quantity of leads in these key stages, you’re guaranteed to sell more.

Sales pipeline stages will differ in each and every business based upon the sales approach, the product/service sold, decision making process of prospects, and other factors. No one sales pipeline design fits all.

How to define sales pipeline stages that suit your business

1. Think through your customers’ buying process and the main decision points from customers’ point of view. Then write down the matching Sales Stages for your team. It should take no longer than 10 minutes.

2. Discuss the Stages with your team. Get input and initial understanding.

3. Spend some time checking that your Stages match all your typical sales scenarios. This is best done in a smaller group.

4. Review the Stages with your team. Make sure everyone understands the aim of defining sales stages and agree on measuring activities at each stage.

5. Revise the sales stages in 1-2 months. If a stage seems to be confusing then rename, delete or add new ones to reflect what is really happening with your sales pipeline.

I’ve defined sales cycle stages. What next?

The power of sales cycle management is the ability to establish activity expectations and put measurements in place to identify and fix leaks in the sales pipeline. Defining sales stages gives you a good baseline and common understanding. Once this is done, there are numerous ways to improve and optimise the sales process.

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Let time management take care of sales management

The secret of success of every man who has ever been successful lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do. – Albert Gray

Heads up – this post won’t teach you anything you don’t already know. But I believe it’s a useful read it nevertheless.

Twenty years as a salesman and sales trainer has taught me that developing a couple of basic good habits is way more effective than any “sales trick” or “proven method to get through to the decision maker”. Focus on the right activities, spend more time with customers and you’ll close more sales. Guaranteed.

Here are three habits that will help you better manage your time, and ultimately your sales results.

Create activity goals

A sale is a result of specific actions, for example making cold calls or sending out price quotes. These activities are not always pleasant and they usually don’t appear urgent. So if “urgent” things like meeting requests or a batch of new emails show up, the sales activities tend to get pushed back.

The best thing anyone in sales can get is set yourself activity goals. First calculate how many sales calls or meetings you need to make to hit your sales goals. Just count how many calls, meetings and proposals you need to make, on average, to close a sale. (here’s a sales calculator for that). If you’re just starting out, make a guess, and correct it later when you have more data.

Book slots in your calendar for reaching said activity goals

Once you know how many calls or meetings you need to make each day, set aside some time when you make this happen – and do nothing else. Book it in your calendar and let it show publicly, politely decline any meetings requests that come for that time. Treat that time slot with the same respect you treat a meeting time with your top customer. Because in a way, that’s what it is.

Learn to focus on one thing only

The best time management tool is Sign out button. When making phone calls turn off all applications you don’t absolutely need for the task at hand. You don’t need to check email regularly, it’s way more effective to reserve a 30-minute slot every morning and evening for correspondence. Needless to say that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram won’t help you you either.

Set activity goals, take time to reach them and get rid of distractions. This is nothing new to most people, and yet so many salespeople don’t do it, starting with yours truly at times. And the most effective advice is often something that sounds simple, and actually is simple if you put in a little bit of effort.

I’d love to hear in comments how many readers consider to master these things already. And if I’ve missed any good tips how to develop these habits, let me know as well.

How to manage sales – 3 big mistakes to avoid

I’ve been in sales and sales management for over 10 years, dealing with medium-sized and large companies before and mostly with smaller companies now. One thing I’ve noticed is that larger companies have had more time to do is make mistakes, and (most of them) have learned from them. Let me summarize 3 common mistakes here for the benefit of smaller teams, but perhaps also as a reminder for bigger organizations.

Three big sales management mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Keeping Track

Sometimes, it’s a little too easy to focus only on the end result. We can get so distracted thinking about how high (or low) the numbers are that we forget to think about how we got there. It’s essential that you look not just at the results themselves, but understand how you achieve those results… or how you missed achieving them. Without tracking things like the number of calls you make, and how many you need to make to close a sale, you won’t be able to repeat your successes or avoid failures. Keeping track will also help keep all team members on the same page, ensuring that everyone is following a proven protocol.

2. Having Lots of Sales Meetings

That sales meeting you think is helping your numbers? It’s actually costing you money. For every minute your high-earning sales reps aren’t out actually selling your product, you are losing dollars. Setting goals or celebrating success together is time well spent, unlike prospect update meetings in a group. There are simple ways to ensure productivity and consistency among your sales team, without eating up their sales time. Options include using cloud conferencing tools which let traveling employees connect remotely, or lead tracking software that keeps everyone up-to-date. Your sales team is a vital asset; don’t waste their talent.

3. Demanding Unrealistic Metrics

Management’s job is to look at the final numbers and lecture accordingly. In sales, though, this just isn’t enough. Your sales pipeline needs to produce and keep producing, and this requires proper management, not bottom-line ultimatums. In order to maximize the potential of your sales pipeline, you need to analyze methods to determine what’s actually working, and what is utterly failing. Regardless of what your market analysis tells you how sales “should” improve, a truly successful sales manager focuses instead on the realities of what works for their company and their salespeople. After all, sometimes management can be a problem too.

Like every other aspect of business, managing sales is a balancing act. Too often, the sales team is pressured to deliver metrics which land somewhere between challenging and impossible, with no basis in the real world. Careful documentation and analysis can help you fix what’s wrong and emphasize what’s working. Meanwhile, let your sales team do what they do best– sell your product– rather than sitting in meeting after meeting. By shifting your attitudes about the right way to handle your sales, you just might witness a massive widening of that revenue stream.

Photo courtesy: darrendean

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