Is your sales team doing the best it can? Or is there something in the process that can be improved?

Ever wonder what makes the best sales teams? I recently read 12 Best Practices That Help Sales Managers Make Their Teams Successful and came up with the following questions from our sales executives when they evaluate sales organizations in companies like Avnet, Tech Data, and Citrix.

1. Is there a sales/marketing plan for each product in the organization?

  • Give details like how was it determined and who authored it.
  • Do you know what your target market profile is for each product, who the target prospect should be and how to reach them?
  • Is there an account plan for each rep for each account?
    • What are the guidelines used to draw one up?
    • Is the manager meeting with the reps weekly to make sure the details of the plan are being followed or modified accordingly?
    • What paperwork is submitted weekly to see if the plan is being followed?

2. Is your team keeping the pipeline full at 20 qualified prospects per rep?

  • Do they understand the importance of bringing in new business/opportunities to the company and not relying totally on references or word of mouth?
  • Can you formulate an ongoing, creative lead generation program to insure that you have more qualified prospects?
  • Does the manager know how to determine the criteria for each account that is part of the pipeline based on milestones?

3. Do the reps stay in front of the prospect/customer frequently? How?

  • Do they understand the importance of account penetration strategies and how to use them?

4. Is closing business taking too long for some reps?

  • Do the reps sell to the “right people?”
  • Can they (sales reps) qualify?
  • Do they know the profile of the type of prospect you are trying to market to, vis-a-vis, your overall marketing plan?
  • Do the managers role play objection handling and closing with them on a regular basis?
  • Do managers debrief all reps periodically after going on sales calls with them to help them get to the “next level” and serve as mentors for them?

5. Have all of your reps been formally trained in consultative selling and do they understand what selling “solutions” means?

  • Have the reps sold products that met business needs?
  • Can they present themselves as consultants that will jointly (with the prospect) come up with solutions that solve problems or are they selling product as a “one-off?”
  • Can your reps merge sales skills with product training and do they know the difference?
    • Can they handle sales objections as well as product-specific objections?
  • Have you evaluated which reps can migrate from commodity to solution selling and which can never do that, if appropriate?

6. Does every rep have appropriate tools? Do they know how to use them?

  • Do you have a training program for reps that combines technical skills with the sales skills needed to sell your specific offerings successfully?
  • How do the reps learn your products’ niche?
  • What do they use to answer the 20 most frequently asked questions?
  • Do they have success stories and testimonials to use for reference points during the sales cycle?

7. How was the compensation plan determined?

  • Is it being looked at on an ongoing basis to see if it is still accomplishing what you want it to?
  • What incentive programs do you have aside from commissions for the reps?

8. Who is managing your reps directly?

  • Have they ever managed a sales force before?
  • Do they understand how to lead a sales team in consultative, solution-selling skills?
  • How are they managing the pipeline?
  • What weekly and monthly reports do they use?
  • Do they go into the field and critique the reps after a call?
  • Do they have weekly sales meetings that combine product information with sales successes, role playing, objection handling, etc.?

9. What criteria are you using for hiring new sales reps?

  • Are you hiring based on the skills you will need to grow the company?
  • Do you role play during the process?
  • Do you check job and customer references?

10. Do you have updated sales material?

  • Are there benefit-oriented PowerPoint presentations accessible to all reps?
  • Is there one place for reps to find previous RFP answers without having to reinvent them?
  • Do you have a master proposal for each product?
  • Does your literature reflect a good understanding of how your products fulfill needs or does it just give product information?

11. Do you have a reseller channel strategy that treats your resellers an extension of your sales force?

  • Does the criterion used for selecting them reflect the type of organization capable of closing the targeted accounts you wish to penetrate?
  • How will you get them to keep your offerings at “eye level?”
    • What programs are in place to teach them how to position, qualify and close your offerings?
    • Do they have tools modified for their use?
  • What plans are in place to stay in front of each reseller consistently?
  • How are they being measured on an ongoing basis?
    • Are they submitting forecasts and account plans?
  • What criteria are being used to renew their agreements with you?

Next Steps

These questions are the first step to rebuilding and refocusing your sales team.

What questions did you find most effective? Are there questions you use in your company already?

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