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Maximising sales team performance

Training & Development | Consultancy | Support

By Its ALL about Sales, Feb 4 2020 08:00PM

Although I had always been the person people came to if they had a “sale” that they needed help with, almost 20 years ago I decided to take sales coaching and training far more seriously.

I became a real sponge for knowledge on how to sell, how to sell professionally and sales leadership.

Reading, studying, seminars etc.

I found myself saying to myself…

“That’s what I do”

“That’s exactly how I do it”

“I didn’t realise I do that, but I do”

I started thinking I must a bloody genius with amazing intuition.

Then it started dawning on me. The realisation that I had been incredibly lucky.

I had started my sales career many years before with two different companies (BMW and one of the finance houses) that had given me really good sales training - not just induction training - SALES training, and although the events were a dim and distant memory the really sound foundations that had been put in place had remained with me. I was gutted (not really) - I wasn’t a bleeding genius after all

Why do I say lucky?

I am always staggered by the number of salespeople that I work with have never had any sales training let alone had it refreshed or developed. OK maybe they shadow someone for a day or two (learning someone else’s bad habits) as part of their induction but that’s not sales training.

I’m lucky for another reason.

As a trainer I actually get to work with the companies that ARE prepared to invest in their sales teams, laying great foundations and developing sales and leadership skills. I always make a point of highlighting to delegates how fortunate they are to work for a business that values them.

By Its ALL about Sales, Jan 27 2020 12:00PM

You’re a great salesperson, you know it and you enjoy it. Regularly exceeding targets and you have been for what seems like forever. Maybe it feels a little too easy or even boring.

Time for you to step up to management? Be careful what you wish for.

At the moment you are responsible for your own performance, not your colleagues, not the overall team, yours, furthermore, if you ever find yourself struggling you’ve got your manager to call on for help.

A good manager will shield you from all the crap that they may be getting from above. Their role is to clear the path to make sales as easy as possible for the sales team, keeping you motivated and focused enough to smash targets, often creating the atmosphere you enjoy.

If sales managers are very lucky they will have hierarchy that fully understand about the importance of a good sales culture and clears the way for them but far far too often this isn’t the case. Sales management can often feel as though you are continually locking horns with the leadership: Budgets, resources, commissions, staffing levels, targets, defending individual salespeople when it’s needed, taking it on the chin for the team if they under-perform while giving the team all the credit when they over-perform. The list goes on…

Oh, and then there is the 9-5 day job, the bits you see. Managing and motivating “the good the bad and the ugly” of the sales team to continuously perform, day in, day out, month in month out.

Do you really want the sleepless nights?

Don’t get me wrong, I love management especially SALES management and if you are good at it it is hugely rewarding (not always financially as often good salespeople earn considerably more than their managers) but, if you work for a great sales manager the role is nothing like as easy as he/she is making it appear.

We’ve helped a lot of salespeople make the transition into management but even with great training it’s worth understanding just how different the roles are.

Good luck if you decide to take the plunge.

By Its ALL about Sales, Jan 15 2020 12:03PM

"Everyone is a salesperson"

I hear this said at so many companies it's untrue. While I can understand the sentiment it's a very dangerous strategy to follow. Ambassador possibly, Representative maybe but salesperson NO!

Sales is a highly skilled, specialist discipline and becoming more and more so as we move forward. Despite this I am often amazed how few officially designated salespeople understand "how" to sell, and why they do the things they do.

To then encourage staff members that do not work in sales, have never had any sales training, do not understand how any sales process works, let alone one that is tailored to suit their business, and is very unlikely to understand what part they should play in that process is actually unfair on them.

If, however "everyone is a salesperson" is a mindset that you wish to instill in your business then give people the tools to work with.

A tailored "Sales for support staff" or "Sales for your Non-Sales people" course will help avoid both missed and lost opportunities, and you never know might help identify that sales superstar you have hidden in the admin department.

By Its ALL about Sales, Jan 3 2020 12:00PM

Imagine you had spent a lot of money buying a piece of machinery. A piece of machinery that made anything, let's say..... Chocolate!

It chugs along, keeps going, coughs every now and again but works (most of the time).

If you found out that there were ways to make it run far more smoothly and effectively and generate far more chocolate, enough to cover the cost very quickly, you would get it upgraded, wouldn't you?

And what about this? What if you have employed someone just to keep the machine ticking along nicely, that's their role, and you hear about ways to develop this person so they don't just keep it ticking along, they get it buzzing, keep it maintained and churning out more chocolate than ever before, You would get them developed, wouldn't you?

Surely it would be crazy not to...

Now, what if it wasn't chocolate it was money, and what if it wasn't a machine it was your sales team? Why is that so different?

I never cease to be amazed how few of the SME sized sales teams that I work with have had any sales training at all let alone any development, and virtually none of the managers responsible for leading and optimising performance have had sales leadership training or coaching.

Maybe if "sales team" sat on the balance sheet as an appreciating tangible asset rather than an overhead or "cost of sales" we might value, and look after, them more.

By Its ALL about Sales, Dec 17 2019 12:00PM

It seems to be becoming a more common issue, one that we are getting more and more calls about.

Salespeople are great at managing their existing accounts. They are terrific at converting incoming leads but they are not going after new business so when these dry up they are left with nothing in the pipeline.

Often there is an attempt to shift the focus onto the marketing "team" asking for more leads, increased footfall, better "special offers" ...

All of a sudden (?) there is a need to talk with new people, build new relationships. This is when we usually hear the cries of "the data is rubbish", "no-one wants to talk to us".

Often the great existing clients have been clients for years and we are maxing out what we can do with them, so where is the future growth coming from?

Building a robust pipeline is the lifeblood of most sales operations. OK the way we develop this pipeline is changing significantly, but the need to do so isn't.

Sales IS evolving, there is no doubt, but the core principles haven't changed (much).

"Sales 2.0" isn't the paradigm shift that its cracked up to be (yet), more a development of the way we get people into the funnel and the tools we use. but it's a great excuse for avoiding the bits of "Sales 1.0" we don't like very much.

By Its ALL about Sales, Dec 5 2019 12:00PM

Firstly, for context, I love genuine thought leaders. Without them we would still be living in caves...

I have two real concerns about how easy it has become to access "thought leader" content these days and both of them revolve around different "agendas"

I will come back to my greatest concern later on...

My first concern is that people are setting themselves up as thought leaders, in fact they are told to do so by other thought leaders (What's that all about?)

More often than not what they are saying isn't anything new, let alone original, and isn't overly thought provoking BUT what they have managed to do is re-package it in a "branded" way.

It may well be useful information but it is simply curating (that's a great word isn't it), re-branding and mass marketing it. When (IF) there is any original angle to the content it is often just regurgitated post after post after post, because there isn't real depth to it.

The whole idea of being a true thought leader is about sharing, giving and unconditionally helping others which then attracts followers and business follows. When the agenda is to attract business by using questionably original reconstituted content to set yourself up as a thought leader it starts to feel very sleazy.

Maybe we need to be more discerning?

My bigger concern revolves around potentially genuine thought leaders, and especially the new, sometimes radical ideas that get some traction. These genuine thought leaders often use phrases like... "I can visualise a time when..." and they may well be right. Eventually some of their ideas may well become the mainstream, but even in todays rapidly changing world it is unlikely to happen tomorrow and it is unlikely that everything that it replaces becomes immediately redundant.

In the same way that electric vehicles will probably, eventually become the norm it will be an evolution that takes decades, not years and the combustion engine will be about for a generation or two, then the processes and technologies that are breaking ground at the moment will take a long time before they are the everyday norm. They may also only be available to large corporations with only radically diluted elements realistic for small businesses.

The problem is, and I see this far too regularly in the world of sales, these new ideas and developments can fuel procrastination. They can create a feeling of analysis paralysis resulting in people not knowing what they need to do. Often no-one is putting things into context.

This can however often suit people's agendas as it can seemingly validate their choices not to do some of the things that they feel less comfortable doing.

Maybe, again, we need to be more discerning?

By Its ALL about Sales, Oct 29 2019 12:00PM

Are we all becoming infected with the “virus of hurry”? I remember well many years ago when my parents would say to me “less haste more speed”.

We have all got so much to do these days that unless we work at breakneck speed we will never get it all done…. Or will we?

About a decade ago I attended a time management workshop that changed the way that I worked and how much I could achieve. I was reminded of this very recently by a radio program that I heard. It made me want to pass on the tips that I had picked up, and just to say “Thank you Julie” for the extra time that you have given me over the years.

Ok 5 simple tips that could help you slow down, get more done, be more efficient, be less stressed and make more money.

1: This will feel counter-intuitive but allow MORE time. Just allow yourself a few extra minutes for scheduled tasks. It is amazing what this can do. Also... allow a few minutes between tasks/meetings. You can either make the notes or follow up actions from the meeting or make yourself available for your colleagues – which means that they won’t need to interrupt you later. Think about how much more you can get done without those interruptions. You may even finish things ON TIME!

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