Get Your Solution Selling Team Back on Track

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Every sales manager’s nightmare is the one where you watch your top producers walk out the door, one after another. Of course you were counting on them to perform as they have in the past. In fact that’s why you took on such a high revenue target this year. It is critical that you stem the tide of exiting sales reps, fix the reason for the high turnover, and get your sales team back on track.

Taking this nightmare seriously puts you in the top 9% according to an American Management Association survey of 1,000 companies. They found that the bulk of those sales managers surveyed were not very concerned about losing their employees. What they did not consider are the reasons you should be worried: top sales talent is hard to find; it takes time to onboard and train new sales reps; there is increased competition for fewer jobs; and unhappy employees do not perform as well as engaged employees.

The first step should be open and honest exit interviews. If your reps have already secured another position, they will be more likely to answer your questions frankly. Be sure to frame your queries with your sincere desire to improve the situation.

The interviews could steer you in many different directions. The source of the problems could be poor management, mismatched hiring, inadequate sales compensation, unfairly drawn sales territories, overly complex sales processes, or the lack of tools that would make their job easier. These causes of turnover are fairly straightforward to fix and a good dose of solution selling training could help re-set your sales reps’ focus on customer needs. But consider a more comprehensive reason for sales turnover…the lack of a high performance sales culture that would sustain your team now and into the future.

The backbone of a high performing sales team is a common vision. Every team member should know in just which direction they need to pull, feel that their efforts are valued, and know how reaching team goals will benefit the organization as a whole.

Here is a step-by-step plan for creating a common vision:

  1. Gather the team together in several meetings to define your purpose as a team (why you do what you do), the end goal (what does success look like), the values that the team will work and live by, and how the team will carry out the vision in their day-to-day behaviors.
  2. Performance Expectations. Clarify expectations so each team member knows what they must do to succeed and what others are doing to reach the agreed-upon goal.
  3. Culture of Accountability. Establish a culture of accountability where adherence to the common vision is measured and rewarded and underperformers improve or exit in a timely manner.
  4. Encourage the sharing of ideas and issues in meetings that are ruled by mutual respect and honest, straightforward talk.
  5. Rewards and Recognition. Reward top performers and celebrate as milestones are reached. Too often, this step is ignored in the bustle of daily tasks but it is a critical one. If you want to keep your sales team on track, they must want to come to work each day. One of the major reasons they engage is how they are rewarded and recognized combined with the personal relationships they have built on the team. Engaged sales reps are more productive reps.
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