Sales is critical to your company’s success. You’ve invested a lot in having a sales team yet you question what they’re doing and whether you’re getting your money’s worth. Sales is both art and science, perception and procedure, reaction and repetition. Like any prudent investment, you need to pay attention to your sales team and cull the best from them by providing the right tools, guidelines, and instruction.
Highly successful sales organizations are exemplary in three key areas: sales tools, sales people, and sales rhythm. Having two out of three won’t cut it. If you only have one, you’re in trouble. We’ll perform an in-depth evaluation of your sales operation and look at your existing internal sales processes, people, and tools. Then we’ll provide you recommendations for changes to drive sustainable growth.
There is no cookie-cutter personality that makes a good sales person. Rather there is instinctive “wiring” that often determines whether an individual will be successful at sales. A Harvard Business Review article specifies these two delicately balanced attributes as “the ability to feel” (empathy) and “the need to conquer” (intense personal satisfaction). What qualities are most important in your sales people? A job benchmark can help identify them. First we identify a team of critical stakeholders within your organization to establish a position benchmark for sales, starting with key accountabilities, those attributes that produce sales results. Similar to performance objectives, they are a more detailed description of why the job really exists. Using the key accountabilities as a foundation, your expert team will determine the combination of traits required for a person to reach superior performance in the job. Achieving the goals of the job will require specific skill competencies, knowledge, thought patterns, behaviors, motivators, certifications, experience and intelligence. In fact, the stakeholder team will analyze 55 job-related factors to create an ideal candidate formula. This is how we let the job talk while keeping the process objective and bias-free. When we’re done, you will have a tailored benchmark for sales based on the unique characteristics your organization requires. You will be able to assess both external candidates and internal employees against this highly customized benchmark, seeing how they rank against the benchmark as well as to each other. Not only can the benchmark assist you in hiring, but also with the job’s key attributes clearly defined, it provides the playbook for ongoing performance management and development.
It’s often been said that one of the hardest jobs in any sales organization is the one of sales manager. It’s the classic squeeze play – managing up and down at the same time. Equipping the sales management team with a straightforward, plausible coaching model and teaching them how to use it through real-world role plays can greatly enhance their effectiveness and their results.
The Medlin Group believes there are certain steps to consider in holding your sales team accountable:
To create a culture of accountability, the leader themselves must first hold themselves accountable and set a personal example that is congruent with how they hold others accountable based on a defined set of standards and consequences. The Medlin Group will assist you, the sales leader, to define your standards and their associated consequences so that you can tangibly elevate the level of awareness and accountability of your sales team.
Sometimes a sales person can get so caught up in what they have to do that they forget what they should be doing. Success in sales is not complicated but it is rarely attained if the foundational tenets of careful listening, planning and organization, building strong relationships, and asking for commitment are forgotten. Has your sales person leveraged or neglected the basics? A refresher course is always a wise investment.
It’s the sales funnel. It’s basic, it’s required, and it’s timeless. Without it, your business will fail. If nothing goes in the top, nothing will come out the bottom. The sales pipeline needs to be constantly filled and intensely managed. When it is done well, there will be no surprises. A good sales person allocates their time to mirror their funnel, focusing on activities that move prospects to close. The Medlin Group will assist you in defining your sales funnel, setting your sale rhythm, and articulating your standards for pipeline management.
Can you articulate to your sales team what you intrinsically know how to do well yourself? Can you effectively communicate what you want your sales people to do? It’s more than making the number. It’s coaching each team member to his or her highest level of sustained performance. Your direction will be more potent when it is customized to how an individual hears – what motivates them to action and what they tune out as white noise. What you say matters as much as how you say it. The Medlin Group can help you uncover how each sales person that works for you receives the messages you send. If you can talk to them in their language, you’ll rarely be misunderstood or ignored. Better yet, the lines of communication, coaching, and direction will be clear and compelling.
Call it what you want – consultative selling, complex selling, C-Suite selling – it’s not easy. You’ve got a sophisticated product line that involves intricate combinations of solution offerings, products, and services that span locations, require advanced installation, and come with an eye-catching price tag. The potential buyers know that implementing a solution from you will alter their own strategic direction, competitive approach, and marketplace position. In this type of selling, the thin line between success and failure is precarious and it rests solely on your sales professional’s to execute. Does your sales person have the unique skill sets required to operate and be successful at this level? We can help elevate the expertise of your sales team to the level of mastery necessary to be successful, provide recommendations for improvement, offer customized role play classes, and evaluate soft-skill performance.
How would your top salesman handle receiving the final “No” from the CEO? What would they do when the decision-maker refuses to make a decision? How would they justify selling your products when the CFO says they don’t believe there’s enough value to justify your high prices? What would they say to a client that had a miserable experience with your firm in the past? The best way to prepare for a sales call is to role-play it. We devise customized role-play scenarios based on the identical situations your sales team is facing. Then we put them through impromptu role-plays to prepare them for the real thing.
"It is my pleasure to share an unconditional and enduring recommendation for The Medlin Group. I have worked with Ken & Judi Medlin for over 20 years - first as a colleague of Ken's at AT&T and then as a client of The Medlin Group in two distinct sales leadership roles and challenges. While at AT&T, I had the opportunity to lead a turnaround of the Mid Market business segment. I engaged Ken & Judi to build a leadership framework to baseline and develop the skills of my leadership team and to establish a foundation to engage each other in teamwork to accomplish a seemingly impossible turnaround goal. This work led to significant transformation of our go to market model, selling strategy, and of course, sales management practice. Ken and Judi were instrumental in clarifying our challenges and bringing a highly customized solution including a broad array of tools, case studies, and workshops that spanned over three years together. This work created a common language, a shared understanding of our goal, and a level of teamwork that was directly related to our successful outcome - we did turnaround the business and delivered excellent results across the multiple dimensions of revenue growth, market position, customer experience and satisfaction, employee retention, accounts receivable, and profitability. In parallel to the work with our leadership team, we expanded the engagement with The Medlin Group to work with our front line team to assess ability and potential and to introduce the role-play approach into our sales development program. Ken and Judi are expert in this approach - and expended a lot of blood, sweat, and tears with our leadership and front line sales team to implement this strategy as an on-going tool in our program. In my view, this is the single most important investment a sales team can make to increase skill and effectiveness in a solutions oriented, account managed relationship with business customers. As Vice President of Sales at Bucyrus, I asked Ken and Judi to perform a leadership assessment and workshop with my new sales leadership team. Although this engagement was simpler and shorter - it set the stage for my new leadership team to tackle another seemingly impossible goal. We delivered a record result - and a sequential 44% increase in sales. Of course, there were many aspects to this performance - but the ability to function effectively as a leadership team in the face of challenging goals must start with a clear objective and a functioning leadership team - this is a sweet spot for The Medlin Group. Ken and Judi bring diverse real world leadership experience, functional know how, professional program management, and most of all - an authentic desire to help people and teams perform to their greatest potential. I am happy to recommend Ken and Judi and look forward to my next opportunity for their support and partnership! "
VP, Sales & Marketing Operations
Caterpillar Global Mining