High turnover, high absenteeism, decrease in referral hires and, of course, decreased mood and activity on the sales floor are clear signals that a sales culture is suffering. In order to turn things around, managers often set rules and guidelines to motivate the team, either through new goals or setting clear expectations.
However, what do you do when the signs a sales culture under attack are not as self-evident, and the answers are not so straightforward?
When You Know Your Sales Culture Is Suffering
Here are a few of the more subtle clues your culture may be suffering:
Reps don’t ask for help or feedback. Usually when they are engaged in the success of the team, sales reps engage their manager. Not asking for help can be a sign that they know they are not performing.
Lack of accuracy in forecasts. Now funnels and CRM updates are always a challenge when managing a team, but when people stop updating their opportunities, it may be a sign that they know they will not be there to close the deal.
Disagreements on the team. Although disagreements among team members is not unheard of in a team made of competitive spirits, but when your sales reps stop working as a team, it means everyone is not on the same page.
Lack of goal attainment. The inability to reach sales goals commonly is the most obvious sign a sales team is suffering, but often is ignored. As deals aren’t closing and targets are missed, managers think the problem is because the team needs training, it’s not the right team, or maybe the product, pitch and approach need to be address. Far too often, though, this is nothing more than a culture that accepts failure.
Addressing a Suffering Sales Culture
Most of the prescriptive responses to a suffering sales culture are to introduce more competition, bonuses or realign the compensation package and goals to make them achievable and aligned with the company goals. Easy fix, right?
Changing goals or additional goals may not encourage your team; it may stifle your team.
Here’s another approach: Give your reps some extra time. Recently, we faced an issue with one of our teams, and the manager responded by spending more time listening to calls, coaching individual reps and joining calls. By doing this, he was able to give guidance and help the team close deals, which improved the team’s overall morale.
Often the best prescription and fastest cure for a sick team is to ring the bell and light the light with closed deals. On top of that, sales reps, especially with younger professionals, want more of your time and attention to show you care.
In the end, all the other little issues, such as showing up, hitting activity metrics, having a spirited sales floor and maintaining a cohesive team working together, can be solved if your reps are closing deals. And, often more important, if they feel alignment and loyalty to their manager, they’ll be motivated to meet the goals and expectations of their manager.
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