The sales business is not defined by how you play the game. It is defined by whether you win or lose. A sales leader or sales manager is entrusted with the job of leading their team to the championship every year. When there is no championship, managers need to find ways to improve their team for the upcoming season. Here’s some ways for sales managers to build a winning team.

Throw the Right Sales Pitch

A sales pitch that doesn’t work can be viewed as nothing more than a waste of time. After all, there are no moral victories in sales. There are only sales. And to make those sales happen, leaders need to know what kind of pitches are being made.

The decision-maker pitch is valuable and could be the result of a lot of previous meetings and interactions. So when it’s time to throw that all-important pitch, don’t throw some curve. Be direct and make your pitch sound conversational, even though it is not a conversation.

Show the decision maker the costs, which may be high. Also show how high the cost would be without your services. And don’t keep decision makers guessing. Decision makers need to know why they are in a sales meeting right away. Lead off with your conclusion. Your solution should be introduced first and implanted in their minds of the decision maker so you can start showing why your solution is the right one.

Be Virtual Coaches

Sales managers and leaders need to be coaches to new and existing employees. That process involves more than just the traditional role of sharing leads, sales pitches, company policy and so on. This is where the virtual side of sales comes into play. Virtual interviews comprise a major part of the hiring process and they can even can continue on the job. But there’s more to being a virtual coach than just virtual conversations.

Virtual sales sessions enable leaders and managers to see just how sales reps act in a sales situation. Setting up a mock sales session session can be very revealing. Sales reps cannot rely on the same strategies they use on the phones as they would use in person. Listening to a sales rep in this virtual session is a telling factor on the specific ways in which they need to be coached and where they need to be improved.

There are also virtual coaching applications which enable managers to monitor the digital behavior of their sales reps. This will show how well sales reps are progressing through their sales cycle. It’s a way to check up on reps and make sure coaching, training and skills instruction are not going to waste. Don’t think of it as spying, think of it as virtual coaching.

Manage What You Measure

Famous 20th century management consultant Peter Drucker is noted for the famous saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Any manager will tell you it is not so simple to walk into a roomful of sales reps and say “You must all do a better job.” That simple statement can leave sales reps confounded as to exactly how or where they need to improve. If and when there is a need to do better, managers need to analyze the performance of their sales team.

Managers can track things such as lead conversion rate, average deal size and many other specific metrics. Then, it is up to the manager to focus on an area, or areas, that are in need of improvement. However, there must be a way to measure improvement. When that identification is made, it can lead to training investments.

Following that training, managers can measure improvements whether it be lead generation, increased customer retention or shortened sell cycles. By monitoring the areas that need improvement, managers can do their jobs effectively and give sales reps the guidance, assistance and support needed for success.

Metrics are a valuable tool in identifying progress as well as areas that are in drastic need of improvement. Taking the time to monitor each of those metrics can make a sales manager’s job a whole lot easier. Their time will be better spent and the areas that need to be improved will be the ones managed closely on a day-to-day basis.

Operant Conditioning

Certain behaviors are expected in a business setting, which opens the door for sales leaders to use operant conditioning. This is a type of system that rewards productive behavior and penalizes negative behavior. But it goes beyond just rewarding sales reps who exceed their quotas and demoting reps who fail to sell.

All sales reps learn to behave certain ways within a company and they learn those ways through certain stimuli placed before them. Various stimuli in companies can be company policy, company structure and even managers themselves. By using stimuli to place specific consequences before sales reps, sales leaders create a way to modify their behavior.

However, the process does not end there. The reinforcement must be continual. Each behavior must be reinforced by managers or else the behaviors are likely to desist altogether. And as the operant conditioning theory suggests, there must be a reward and punishment system in place.

Rewards can include office perks, promotions, raises or individual awards. Penalties could be something as simple as more supervision over the course of the day, or more required written updates on daily progress by each sales rep. Those sales reps facing those negative consequences would likely modify their behavior to avoid those negative consequences in the future.

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