Management, Leadership, and Success -

There's a lot to talk about here, and I think that these issues are paramount to forming and growing a successful sales organization. I've been witnessing an especially depressing work environment where people are not valued, managers work tirelessly in the service of themselves, and there is no organized training, development, or reward system for employees - even though the company (which will remain nameless here) touts itself as being employee-dependent and offers pathways to "improvement".  The issue is that while these programs exist, their application for low-level employees is entirely dependent upon managers allowing employees to interact with the system, and there is no internal control system to ensure that all employees have the opportunity to do so.

I believe strongly that you "manage" things: Systems, plans, policies, paperwork, reporting --- all the systemic things that help employees do their jobs. People do NOT need to be "managed" - they need to manage themselves, and be given all the necessary resources to do so.

You COACH people. You develop them through formal training combined with on-the-spot coaching. And, coaching happens in-the-game! Coaching in the business of personal selling requires having a "game plan" - which has been my overriding theme forever.

Leadership in our business means bringing people to their goals. That's THEIR goals first because if your people achieve their goals, you will achieve, and surpass, your goals. Almost everyone wants more than they're getting, so this is no surprise, and it's leadership that gets them there. you concentrate on them, and you all winIncluding your customers. Most sales managers and owners I've met concnetrate on their own goals - the company goals, but in one-to-one selling environments they can't get there without individual performance at the point of contact. So, change your focus.

When dealing with individual sales performance I like to begin by ranking my staff by the two critical metrics that make up sales performance: Close Ratio and Average Sale. Determine the store averages for both metrics, then see who is above and who is below these two averages. Close ratio is the big item here because relatively small variances are actuall big in their affect on overall performance. For example, if average sale is equal between two individuals, but one closes at a 20% level and another at 22%, that's a 10% variance in total sales. If one is at 20% and the other at 25%, that's a 25% variance in total sales.

Close ratio is the toughest thing to fix because it requires changes in the way salespeople engage customers, determine needs and wants, offer solutions, present products, and close sales.

Average Sale can be easier to undersatnd and fix if you look at the one thing that MAY be the indicator of performance - sales-by-salesperson-by category. Lookiing at it first as percentages of total sales will show you where work is needed. For example, in most stores the highest ticket sales are bedroom sales. Salespeople who are weak in bedroom (set) sales will have issues with average sale - but any category can be viewed this way and a training program developed for individuals by category.

Close ratio also has a "prime factor" and that is Be-Backs! Customers who return to the store (and MAYBE to the salesperson) a second time on the same project. More "Be-Backs" equals higher close ratios every time. My long history of tracking these matrics shows that first-time shoppers on a new furniture project, buy around 10% of the time. But, on the second visit, the close ratio exceeds 70%.

Enough for now? Watch for more.