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How to Recalibrate Your Sales Teams

Updated on September 13, 2012

My primary role in the company that I work for is to manage the sales teams to achieve the annual revenue target. Because this is a diverse business I need to have a good understanding of all of the products and services that we sell and what is occurring in certain product ranges.

In the past couple of months the Marketing team responsible for travel have spoken to me about the downturn in sales for a couple of travel related products. This has prompted me to remember the three step process to get campaigns back on track by calibrating the sales teams. The process is:

1. Understand why

2. Change behaviour

3. Calibrate

Let’s look at each in detail and how this process can get your teams back on track selling preferred product (and increasing your revenue)

Understand Why

The first activity is to understand why the behaviour has changed. There are a number of ways to conduct this market research, but the easiest is to listen into customer conversations and if the preferred product is not offered or rejected by the client then ask the consultant why.

Both customers and consultants will be very willing to let you know why they don’t want a specific product, but usually for customers it is value for money and availability. For consultants it could be that they have had a run in with the wholesaler, the system is too difficult or they are being directly incentivised by a competitor.

The next process is to ask the management team why. Allow them a couple of ‘Dorothy Dixon’s’ about price or availability, then ask them how they are going to change the behaviour of the staff. By putting the onus back onto the direct line manager and their target, KPI and bonus achievement this will focus them on ensuring that the preferred suppliers are offered and supported.

In this case the most likely issue is a perceived value for money, so it is most likely the selling technique used by this team rather than the actual product.

Change Behaviour

Know they you understand the real reason why, you now have the information to find a solution. This can be achieved through a range of activity including:

· Wholesaler training to help the team have a better and deeper understanding of the product so that they can effectively sell the product

· Sales training to help the team handle objections and to sell the benefits

· Coaching combined with a non-negotiable to always offer preferred product first

· Develop an incentive campaign to bed down the change in behaviour

By having an expectation that team members will always offer preferred product first means that people will generally comply with this direction. If they are coached to ensure this occurs combined with a strong, relevant incentive campaign will mean that people will learn how to sell the product and it will become a natural part of their day-to-day work.

Recently I ran a campaign for another product that incentivised higher levels of cover for a base product ‘sale’ campaign. We outsold the base product, even though it was on promotion through this type of process.

Calibration

Once you have changed the behaviours you can’t just stop. It needs to be reinforced. This is achieved by:

· Issuing a non-negotiable agreement that this product will be offered and the benefit sold to each and every customer

· Regularly coaching about 3 presentations a fortnight to embed the behaviour

· Add this requirement to their bonus structure and to their performance review document

As with any sales activity you need to check the stats from time to time to ensure that the market hasn’t changed or the old habit return and calibration helps to stay on top of this.

Why, Change & Calibrate

By following this simple process you can ensure that your team stays on track, can hit those preferred suppliers sales targets and enable your team to reap the rewards in extra sales and overrides. At the same time this ensures that your customer also reaps the benefits, preferred suppliers will help your customers out, allow changes to flights etc, whereas other suppliers won’t.

At the end of the day we are here for our customers, so we need to ensure what we sell them provides the best value for money, not just the lowest price.

Cheers Michael

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