Success in sales is based on many things: good salespeople, good leads, good marketing, good products, good market conditions and so on. But what about sales management? That’s important too and it involves a senior person holding salespeople accountable for their actions.
Let’s explore 7 questions a sales manager should ask his sales team (or anyone involved in sales activities).
- Who are you selling to?
Painfully obvious, right? And are you targeting the “right” customers? Do we even know who the ‘right’ customers are? On what criteria do we base our evaluation of customers? That they will be with us a long time? That profit will be high in the proposed transaction? That they will be good to work with? That they have a good reputation? That they will give us referrals? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these … but it needs to be well-defined.
- Where did you get those leads?
Sometimes salespeople get so caught up in the sale they forget where the leads came from. Are they “inbound leads” meaning the prospect initiated contact? Have they been in your marketing database a long time? Did you meet them at a social event? The point is, if we are finding good leads somewhere, we should replicate what we’re doing. If not, something needs to change.
- What exactly are you proposing to sell?
This could be simple because your business has only one product or service and it’s well-defined. More likely, there are some complexities because discerning customers want a variation of your product. For example, they may want revised payment terms, a discount or a different specification. Salespeople, in their urgency to sell, can sometimes vary the proposal in ways which don’t benefit the business. And create problems later.
- This is the big one… What are you doing next to close this sale?
Like everything in business, sales can get complicated. Sometimes even the most astute salespeople just don’t know what to do next. Shall I call the prospect (again!) and see if they’ve come to a decision? Should I consider varying the price or delivery terms? Should I go to someone different in their organisation to try and get more information? Should I just wait? Should I invite them for lunch? Successful salespeople make these decisions quickly and definitively. But everyone can benefit from an outside view on what will work best.
- How long have you been working on this opportunity?
Part of successful sales is, of course, selling! But another important part is to move on from opportunities which linger on forever without any success.
- What’s the probability of you closing this one?
This is related to the above question and “forces” the salesperson to consider their priorities.
- What’s stopping you from closing these deals?
Sales can be lonely… And there’s a lot of rejection. The ability to talk about obstacles to selling is important. That doesn’t mean complaining. It means constructively identifying legitimate barriers to getting sales across the line and discussing them with people who can clear some of those barriers.
Why not test questions in your next sales meeting? While not ALL of these should be discussed in EVERY sales meeting, but alerting salespeople to these important subjects will add value in the long term. And that means…. more sales.