Taking Over a New Sales Team: The Initial Team Meeting
Setting Yourself Up For Sales Management Success
The stage is set. You are taking over a new sales team. Whether this is your first team or you are a seasoned sales manager, one thing is for certain: You only have one chance to make that first impression. The importance of your initial sales team meeting cannot be stressed enough. This is your opportunity to create a vision, set the tone, establish expectations, and generate excitement in the journey ahead.
Precursor: Decide the type of sales manager that you want to be
That’s right. This is a new chapter in your life. When you lace up your shoes today, you get to choose your identity. Yesterday is a memory, and this is a fresh start to choose who you want to be as the new sales manager for this team. So who are you going to be?
You have two choices:
You can choose to be an administrative sales manager.
An administrative sales manager is a “steady rudder” kind of guy. You don’t rock the boat, you steer the team toward smooth waters, and you keep the crew happy. You focus on preparing sales reports, analyzing sales performance metrics, and astutely handle the assigned responsibilities required by the company of the sales manager. Your presence does nothing to improve the performance of your reps, and the success or failure of each member of your team is their own responsibility. Metaphorically speaking, you are the captain aboard a cruise ship.
Or you can choose to be a performance sales manager.
A performance sales manager handles all of the team’s administrative responsibilities too, but they have an internal burning desire to get the most out of every member of the team. S/he clearly establishes a vision for the team that includes becoming sales champions. S/he sets aggressive goals for their sales reps, and shows them how to accomplish them.
The performance sales manager prides themselves on field coaching and rep development over a perfectly prepared corporate sales report. If asked to bet their job on being a great coach or a superb administrator, they will always choose the path of rep development. S/he is acutely focused on helping each member of their team to be the best that they can be, and judges them against their own potential instead of the results of others. This person makes each rep better because they are there. This person is synonymous with the Admiral aboard an aircraft carrier. They have no interest in guiding the boat…their troop’s lives are on the line and they will make sure that they stay safe and have a shot to win the war.
If you choose to be an administrative sales manager, there is no reason to read any further. This article is not for you.
However, if you choose to be a performance sales manager (not just lip service but you are truly committed to it), then read on. This is the way you want to kick things off with your new team.
1. Break their complacency
2. Create a championship environment
3. Provide vision for the team
4. Establish personal and professional credibility
5. Break the status quo
6. Show them how they are going to get there
7. Establish daily agenda – time management
8. Create individual accountability
9. Give them a reason to follow you
10. Follow me pledge of commitment from manager
Step 1: Establish a championship environment
You want the reps to see that there is indeed something different when they show up for work the first day with their new team. You are about to share your vision of building a championship team, so you want the place to look like you have just won the Super Bowl. Light the place up to make it an arena fit for national champions. Only your imagination (and your budget) can limit the celebratory atmosphere, so light the place up. Balloons, streamers, confetti, signs, music, red carpet, photographers, journalists, groupies…you get the idea. Make it fun, festive, and worthy of champions. Make it a moment they will never forget, and also one that they will strive to achieve once again when they accomplish the objective.
You will use this as a springboard into your team kickoff meeting by telling them that the first step in becoming a champion is belief: You must believe you are a champion before you can become a champion.
Meeting dialogue example:
“Today, we are celebrating becoming the best sales team in the country because that is what we are going to become. So we are just celebrating our championship in advance! Enjoy this small celebration, because when we get there, this is going to pale in comparison to the party we are going to have then!
Today, we are going to discuss our vision for the future and then I am going to show you how we are going to get there. I will never give you a goal without a solution…a goal without a solution is just a wish. I am going to give each of you a solution to becoming the best you can be, and you are each going to have an important role in what this team becomes.
While I have a big vision of what this team will achieve, I want you to know one thing: The team never takes priority over you. My focus is to help each of you maximize your abilities each and every day, and I will always focus on helping you with your needs, your goals, and your issues.
My belief is that great teams are the result of individuals who have become the best that they can be. Therefore, my promise to each of you is to work with you personally to help you achieve your personal greatness. You let me worry about the team. My focus is on you, and that will ultimately make us a great team!”
Many sales managers focus on the team result and this is backwards. The reps are not there for the team…the sales manager is there for them. After their personal survival needs are met (food, shelter, and water come from having a job), only then can a rep disengage from their personal desires and be a part of something bigger. Strangely enough, the more a sales manager tells them to worry about themselves, the more they want to contribute to the team.
Step 2: Establish personal and professional credibility with the team
Provide background information including success as a sales rep and sales manager. In order for the sales reps to buy-in to the rest of the meeting, they need to be sold that the manager has the qualifications to lead them to where they need to go.
Transparency is the key in establishing a bond with the sales team as it is the first step in gaining their trust. We must always do what we say we will do, and our actions from this point forward must be 100% congruent with our message and directives.
Step 3: Break the Status Quo
• Current standard: 100% to objective is the minimum standard, but lower will be tolerated.
o 100% is just doing the bare minimum for the job. Lower means we are not doing our job, and this is not acceptable performance any longer.
• Implement sales performance shifting:
o We want the reps to focus on a target much higher than 100%. Once this is ingrained into their minds, they will start shooting past the minimum standard without even realizing it. It is similar to setting your clock in your car ahead ten minutes. Every time you look at it you get a bit panicked that you are going to be late and instinctively speed up.
o For more detailed information on Sage Warfield’s proprietary tool, Sales Performance Shifting, read our article “Set Your Clock Ahead and Blow Past Your Sales Objectives”.
The “new” 100% is 150% to objective. This is our focus. If we get to keep our jobs at 100% but lose them at 99%, why would we ever focus on 100% when it leaves no margin for error? I am not willing to risk my future or your future focusing on doing the minimum. This focus is not just about performance…it’s about job security.
When numbers are put on the board from this point forward, they will be relative to a 150% target…not 100%.
• Daily sales objective at 100% = $1500
• New daily sales objective at 150% = $2250
• So, if a rep closed 3 deals for $1500 on the first day of a ten day reporting period…
• Sales board numbers posted will be:
o Monday’s results: 3/1500 = 67%
Why? They are 67% to objective for the day.
• The sales goal for the ten-day reporting period is $2250 x 10 = $22,500. Therefore the other number that goes on the sales board that Monday is the percent to the new 100% for the whole period:
o Period results: $1500/$22,500 = 6.7% (this is the cumulative sales for the reporting period divided by the new 100% goal)
o In addition to the sales board, we want reps to voicemail the sales manager at the end of each day with these figures.
Note: Adding the voice element intensifies the emotion of personal accountability and is a very important part of the process. We strongly discourage waiving the voicemail requirement.
Step 4: So HOW do we get there from here?
• We have to give 100% each and every minute of the day both physically and mentally.
• We have to have a plan for our day every day. If we “wing” it, our results will wing it too.
• We have to use the sales process on each and every call. You may think that shortcuts save you time, but they really don’t. Shortcuts cost you time and money.
o Some of you may say, “I don’t like the process. It feels canned”.
o First off, if it is “canned” it means it “works”. If it didn’t work, it wouldn’t be canned.
o Secondly, don’t confuse process with your unique style. Process is structure, and our “structure” is designed to build value. We also value your unique style, and we want you to use your style to build life into the structure we have designed for you. This is how you use the process to build consistent results.
o Demo a typical sales call using the process.
• We have to believe in our product with every ounce of our soul. We have to have 100% certainty that our product is doing more than just making a sale. It changes the lives of our clients and their families, their employees, and their communities when they are able to reap the benefits of our solution. If you don’t believe this, we need to talk about it. And if you still don’t believe it after that, you need to go find something else that you can believe in at that level. Because if you sell something that you don’t really believe in then you are just a con-man and none of us want to be a part of that.
• In addition to belief, we have to have an attitude of servitude…to want to help our customers with every fiber of our being.
o Question: If you knew someone was going to die and YOU had the cure, would you tell them about it and help them OR would you keep it to yourself and figure it was none of your business?
o We have to feel like we have the “cure for cancer” and if we don’t get to them then they will die. Not only is “business death” a very real thing, but functions within their business die as well. We have to attack the market every day with this internal philosophy and belief. What we do really makes a difference, and we have an obligation to do something to help.
• We have to share our successes and failures with each other in order to learn and grow. While a team can’t help you when you are in the middle of a sales call, the collective experience of the team can help each of us to learn much faster and enjoy greater success. That’s the power of team collaboration.
Step 5: Create a daily agenda/business plan for the rep
• The day in the life of a rep…
• Walk through what their day should look like from bell to bell
o Time for preparation & planning
o Time for prospecting
o Time for presentations
o Time for follow-up
o Time for referrals
o Time for administrative
Step 6: Establish individual accountability
• Sales board posted conspicuously for the team to see daily results
o Daily and period-to-date results posted by sales reps each day
o Personal voicemail from rep to manager each day vocalizing sales results
• Individual recent performance rankings posted after each reporting period (Stack Ranking Report)
o YTD figures don’t show recent results and sometimes allow sales reps to hide from recent performance. By the time it is noticed, they may have gone too far downhill to recover.
Manager Note (not disclosed to team): Suppose you are the owner of a basketball team, but have to be out of the country for thirty days. If your team wins 10 games in a row, but loses four of its next 5 games, which scenario is most relevant to how they are playing today: The team has won 11 of its last 15 games OR they have lost 4 of their last 5? Losing 4 of 5 is the most relevant since it identifies a current trend and should be cause for concern.
o Calculate and display most recent three or six reporting period results in a stack-rank format from best to worst performance.
This serves several purposes:
• Creates competition and peer pressure between the reps
• Makes recent performance visible and important
• Allows sales management to identify problems early enough to fix them. A recent stack rank provides us with a tool to focus on individual recent performance and growth. Someone with a solid YTD result but poor recent performance is uncovered quickly.
• It rewards recent performance for a rep with a poor YTD result by allowing them to have pride in their work ethic, growth, and performance.
Step 7: Give them a reason to follow you—the sales manager on this mission
• Recap the big picture elements of the meeting and initiatives introduced
• Breaking it down – This is about:
o Shifting our focus to a larger goal
o Working hard
o Believing in our product
o Caring enough to make a difference
o Using a process to attain consistent results
o Being accountable to ourselves
Step 8: Conclusion - Follow me…
• Work should be your safe haven from life
o No financial issues
o No relationship issues
o No spiritual issues
• This is a place for us to have fun together and to make a difference in the lives of others.
• My promise to you:
o I will never talk down to you or treat you poorly
o We will focus on the development of your individual performance not on the team’s results. This is about you…not me.
o I will treat you as a respected professional and only address the issues. If we discuss a deficiency, the focus is on the action and not the person. It is not a personal attack.
o I will always trust that you are trying to do the right thing even if things go wrong. I will never question your intent.
This is going to be a great ride together. If you talk with people that have worked with me in the past they will tell you this:
o You will never make more money than when you work with me
o You will never have more fun than when you work with me
"Are there going to be changes for you?"
Yes! Anytime you expect to get a different result, it has to come through change. If we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always got. But, if you embrace it, I can promise you that you will be personally rewarded, have more fun at work, and make more money in this job than you ever thought possible.
So if you are with me…say “I”!!!
Let’s get to work!
Posted March 15, 2013 / By Chris Hickey
Tags: sales coaching, sales leadership, sales management, sales management training, sales turnaround, turnaround management, sales consulting, sales management coaching, interim sales management, sales force effectiveness, sales coaching
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