Strategic marketing consultant Peter Lamb led a two-hour interactive sales workshop at INK+BEYOND on May 3. His presentation was designed to get newspaper delegates to rethink the sales culture at their organizations.
Lamb first asked delegates evaluate their sales teams and strategies – the highs and lows, the successes and failures – and share their responses with the group. The interactive exercise got the audience—which consisted of numerous sales managers from newspapers across the country–to start thinking about their own presentation skills and leadership style.
The consensus from many in the room was that one of the most common weaknesses among sales managers is doing things earlier; whether it be firing a bad employee or changing a poor commission structure.
Lamb told delegates that they need to be more proactive in their approach. Part of getting “ready for battle” each week means preparing yourself on Sunday night for a Monday morning meeting. He recommends that managers send out a meeting agenda to their reps the night before to make sure everyone is prepared. “Your sales meeting is getting the culture right,” said Lamb. “The whole idea is if you’re prepared and outlined specific expectations for every single day, the culture will follow.”
Lamb asserted that the Monday morning meeting should always be at 9:00AM sharp and should never be more than an hour. He divided a successful Monday meeting into 15-minute increments:
- First 15 minutes: Every rep shares a success story from the previous week.
- Second 15 minutes: Break down the numbers, by rep (versus last week and last year). If you are adventurous, rank people worst to best rather than the other way around. “Shame the poor performers – embarrass your reps,” said Lamb. “Your job is to make them get better.”
- Third 15 minutes: Go through housekeeping (special sections, deadlines,etc.)
- Last 15 minutes: Use the final part of the meeting as a training session. Who does the training? Anybody except the sales manager. “People listen to their peers; pick one or two good reps and ask them to instruct the others on how they get results.” If you want to be adventurous – get a customer in and let them talk about their business and their needs or bring in other people from your company to teach your team and give them something to walk away with.”
Lamb also championed the importance of role playing exercises as a way to coach reps. “It builds confidence, teaches them think on their feet and it’s free.” It’s better for reps to practice and screw up in the office before going out in the field and blowing a commission.
Lamb went on to share his leadership strategies and offered delegates a profile of a great sales manager:
- They spend no less than 75% of the time every week in the field: the great sales managers accompany the reps.
- They let their reps fail because that’s how they learn. Lamb told delegates that failure is a coaching opportunity. “If they are losing a sale, let them drown don’t jump in and close it,” he said. You are the mentor and it’s your responsibility to do that and not bail them out.
- They’re always looking for ways to improve performance among their team. Your role as the leader is to set up competition among your reps to make them better. Commission plans and contests need to be creative and tailored to individual needs. Every rep is motivated by something d