It is definitely great to have an independent team of sales reps. But does this mean that the ultimate goal of a sales team leader is to be useless?
That would be the biggest misinterpretation. Even the most self-sufficient team needs an overwatch who will check on it, making sure that it follows a schedule. Otherwise, the independence would soon get out of control.
This is why you should stick to regular meetings and keep in touch with your team, their techniques, results and possible obstacles they come across.
On every meeting, your team can bring up specific cases they managed to close or ones that posed a challenge to them. More attendants at these meetings mean more objective opinions and more solutions. Above all else, you can easily keep track of your team's activities, detect any weak spots on time and have your salespeople work on them.
- Make the meetings regular. We recommend holding a group meeting once every week, or at least bi-weekly.
- Follow a clear template on every meeting, be it a team meeting or a one-to-one. That way, there will be no room for doubt as for what needs to be solved.
- Have an agenda, some steps you want to go through. That way, both sides will be better prepared and you'll be sure that no important point was forgotten.
- Make it interactive: your reps will stop paying attention unless you involve them. Ask each rep for a quick update on the last period at the start of each meeting.
- Make sure that you (the team leader) are the one who does the least talking. Your role is to watch over course of the meeting, the role of your team is to talk about what needs to be discussed.
- Your team should feel the added value of the meetings. Do your best to motivate them, give them individual tips on how to improve or further boost their results
Steps to go through on each meeting
1) Pipeline movement
Discuss every opportunity separately. A well-structured sales process breaks up into milestones. If you meet all milestones (solution fit, key stakeholders identified, offer confirmed, etc.), the opportunity moves forward. Mind that milestones are not activities such as “first call” or “first meeting” as they won’t tell you much about what’s happening with your prospects. As simple as that.
Observe whether all the milestones really happened on every opportunity stage. If they didn’t, come up with a fix. If they did, set up steps to get it to the next stage.
TIP: As your company grows, ditch Excel or similar amateur platforms where you might log your numbers. Your time is too valuable. Get a CRM, which allows you to take advantage of its dashboard, where your stats will automatically update, so that you've got everyone's numbers at hand whenever you need them.
2) What happened and what's the progress since the last meeting?
By setting a target, you're also able to set numbers of activities for the sales representative. Let’s say, the yearly target is 1M USD in new revenue. 1M breaks down to onboarding 3 new clients every month, that's preceded by creating 6 opportunities, and by making 20 demo calls. If the numbers are there, great. If not, talk about the reasons and possible solutions.
By checking these “chores”, we make sure that we're successfully heading towards the numbers we seek.
3) Goals for the next period
To make sure your team will stay motivated and not slow down, plan ahead until the next meeting. A large goal that they should hit by the end of the fiscal year might seem daunting until it is broken down into smaller goals that lead to it step by step. These smaller goals will be the engine for your sales reps, their main motivation.
TIP: Notice how your reps look when they're leaving the meeting: are they in a better mood than when they arrived? Are they energized? If not, then consider what could you do differently on the meetings. Ask your salespeople for their opinion - what would they like to see covered, what are they missing?
Should you go for one-on-one or group meetings?
That will really depend on what opportunity or KPI you would like to focus on. Especially in larger companies, you should make time for an individual meeting with each of your representatives from time to time, but you should also go for group meetings where you'll discuss enterprise deals and bigger projects.
So, we suggest you do a combo of both: a group meeting with everyone, including the marketing team, etc., and individual meetings with the sales representatives.
As you dive into the metrics on your team meeting, share info on monthly, yearly targets, and leave any individual feedback to one-to-one meetings. No one likes to be scolded or called out in front of colleagues.
On the other hand, praise publicly. And be specific.
Say that Jordan managed to surpass his goals for six months in a row, be generous in giving him the kudos he deserves. It sounds way better than your generic "good job".
Wrapping it up
A well-structured system of sales meetings can mean the difference between success and failure in your company. Although, especially once you've onboarded a team of self-sufficient sales reps, you might tend to sleep on regular meetings with them, don't do it. These meetings are not just about you keeping an eye over your team; they are also about them interacting, sharing and commenting on their recent experience. Use these meetings to make sure the targets you're aiming for are met, that your salespeople are not feeling alone in facing challenges, and that no opportunity gets neglected or stuck.