How are the sales guys doing?

A company asked me last month whether I thought their sales people were doing a good job for them. I asked what their goals were and were they meeting them. I asked how often they revised the goals and how they evaluated their success. “Hmmmm” came the answer.

Goals and accountability: that’s the secret. It seems so obvious but it’s so easy to skate over. When you engage sales people, agree with them on specific goals. Whether it’s particular people you want to work with, the quality of work you want to do, or dollar volumes. Set the goals and set the time frames. And keep tabs on successes. This works well for all parties. The goals can be reevaluated if necessary and intelligent discussion can often uncover things that both sides can do to help things to progress. Sales is not a one-sided function. The company management has a considerable responsibility to provide the sales team with materials and information and encouragement: they can’t work effectively in the dark. But how can you know how they are doing if you don’t have a measure. Most important of all, keep talking to them and keep asking questions and insisting on answers.