B2B Sales Turnaround Case Study: Print Advertising - Sales Team
Print Advertising – Sales Team Turnaround
This is an eight person outside sales team selling print advertising products to small businesses. The sales cycle is typically two to four weeks, and the reps normally work directly with the decision maker in a simple sales environment. The team was collectively performing at 82% to objective, and the highest performing sales rep was at 107%. The team services a statewide area with typically 3-5 reps canvassing a major area for six to twelve weeks; meanwhile, the remaining reps individually canvass one or two small markets in sales canvasses of two to four weeks.
Although the previous sales manager travelled in the field with the reps, most of their time was dedicated to administrative activities instead of field coaching and individual performance development. After initial sales training, there was no follow-up training to insure that the reps were able to transition their knowledge of the sales process from classroom to the field. This resulted in bad habits being developed and a breakdown in the sales process.
The sales reps lacked vision and direction necessary to achieve optimal sales success. Performance standards drove reps to focus on achieving the sales objective instead of maximizing their individual potential. Daily sales results were private between rep and manager, and this fostered a lack of peer accountability regarding outside call activity and sales results. There was little focus on time management including dedicated attention toward new account development.
Although the sales quota for each two-week reporting period was considered the minimum standard for the sales organization, the reps were not placed on performance improvement plans unless results were below 80% to objective for three consecutive reporting periods. Therefore, without intending to do so, the company had set 80% as the new acceptable minimum performance level. The target that a sales rep focuses on s/he will achieve, and it was no coincidence that the team’s average was 82% to objective.
We need to break the status quo, and set a new performance standard. But simply setting a new standard alone is not enough to create sustainable improvement. We need to set the standard and show them how to accelerate their sales to that level. Setting goals without a path to attainment will always result in failure except for the naturally gifted and internally motivated superstars.
For example, if a coach tells a baseball player that the new goal is to hit .300, but doesn’t show him how to accomplish this (through the use of new tools, techniques, or strategies), he will not be able to do this. As the saying goes, “if we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always got”.
In order to be efficient in time management, they must be given a process for how to manage their days. Most sales reps are effective in making sales calls, but fail to dedicate time in their day to other activities that are vital to their sales success. Therefore, we will give them strategies and tools for managing their daily life that includes time for account research and planning, appointment setting/follow-up, and administrative tasks.
Psychologically, we need to break the “sales peddler” mentality so that they don’t feel like they are just schlepping advertising to their clients. In order to do so, the reps must change their image of themselves with regard to their relationship with their clients and their importance to them. They must view themselves as difference-makers and life changers for their clients instead of rainmakers for the company. They must believe that the customer is getting more value out of their relationship than they are getting in commission. This is a fundamental foundation of sales rep achievement. Without this belief, they will always be peddlers and peddlers seldom achieve consistently solid sales results.
While our primary focus in sales management will always be on the individual (instead of the team) so that we can help them reach their personal potential, we want to establish a goal of becoming a championship team. After their individual needs are met, sales reps want to be able to connect with others and be a part of something bigger. Creating team goals helps meet this need.
Lastly, we must establish individual sales accountability with each member of our team. Sales reps cannot be allowed to hide their performance and productivity from themselves or from the rest of their team. They must feel some daily consequence for their decisions and actions…both to themselves and their teammates.
This team's sales results increased from 82% to 145% beginning in the very first reporting period, and went on to lead the nation in sales for the remainder of the year. The following year, the team won the National Championship as the #1 sales team in the nation.
Our sales case studies are designed to provide you with a "big picture" snapshot of sales problems faced by various companies, the broad strategies used to guide the sales turnaround, and the subsequent results. Certainly there are many strategies that can accomplish a single desired result, however, the key to the success of any sales strategy resides within the implementation.
We pride ourselves on being experts in sales force turnaround implementation, and many of the specific tools and processes we use to accelerate sales are proprietary to Sage Warfield. While our website provides a plethora of tools, tips, and strategies for you to use on your own, our case studies do not contain an "IMPLEMENTATION" section in order to protect Sage Warfield's intellectual property. However, we welcome you to contact us directly if you have specific questions regarding implementation. We would love to hear from you, and will do our best to help.
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