Around this time of year, many sales teams experience a summertime slump. Customers and colleagues go on vacation for a week or two. Kids are at home and parents are focused on them. We are still experiencing a slump due to the recession from the lockdown that started in March.
So, my question for CEOs is: how will you help your sales leaders keep your salespeople energized and motivated to keep selling, no matter what?
My secret weapon for keeping salespeople fired up to close deals is simple: Planning.
Are your sales leaders teaching your salespeople the planning skills needed to be successful? Are they holding them accountable to build a solid plan and execute it? Coach your leaders to do this and share the following instructions with them. Some of your salespeople will be better at this than others, but even the best need some coaching to keep them focused and fired up.
What Sales Leaders Can Do
Most salespeople are not naturally good at planning. They may need help to literally plan their day. A calendar can be a salesperson’s best friend. If used properly, it will help assure prime selling hours are protected and other activities are scheduled outside of that time. However, before they can plan they need to prioritize. Why? It’s easy to get into a slump when you are disorganized and unsure of your priorities.
Here’s what I recommend: Once they have prioritized their activity, help them plan daily, weekly, monthly, and annual selling activities and put them on their calendar along with other recurring meetings including time for planning.
Planning may seem like busywork, but it’s time well spent. Remember the daily activities of salespeople have a direct impact on your revenue! Here are my best tips to help your salespeople plan so they feel good – and stay motivated to sell.
How to Help Salespeople Create Plans
Salespeople should choose a time first thing in the morning or at the end of each day to plan for the following day. They should not start the day with email. Planning their day should take about 15 minutes. Before they check email and voicemail (and before everyone else’s priorities get in the way) they should make any necessary adjustments to their daily plan which should include a block of time for prospecting, moving deals forward, and any needed follow-up. Their plan should protect their prime selling hours and ensure that other work is scheduled outside of that. Be sure they have daily planning time on their calendar.
These days with people working from home, some with their kids, you may have to encourage them to schedule in breaks and some may be working some different hours to get all their work in. Many are working longer hours than ever before. Be sensitive to the times we are in and help them build a schedule that makes sense and includes exercise and breaks. The goal is success. To have success, they have to stay motivated. Working long hours without breaks is not good for anyone. It reduces productivity and can cause crabbiness. Let them know you expect them to take time to eat, exercise, and rest for a few minutes and help them plan those activities into their day. No one wants to talk to a crabby salesperson.
Have salespeople add a 30-minute appointment on their calendar each week for planning. During this time, they should look at their upcoming week. Put scheduled meetings on their calendar, and include time to prepare for sales calls, time to do follow up on sales calls, and networking. They need to include several blocks of time a week for prospecting (ideally they should choose a time of day when they’re at their best). Two days before each sales call, salespeople should add a 30-minute block to write out their plan for the meeting. Make sure they have learning time on their calendar as well.
Salespeople will need one hour a month for monthly planning. I suggest doing this 10 days before the end of the current month and they should take a look at the big picture so their weeks run smoothly. Salespeople should put any planned meetings or events on their calendar for the month ahead. If they have a sales presentation or virtual meeting coming up, be sure they block off plenty of preparation time to prevent having to pull an all-nighter. Last-minute rush jobs are never our best work.
In October or November, salespeople should plan for the year. They should allow several hours to set goals and make a plan. They can schedule the events, programs, promotions, and other activities they’ll need to meet goals, as well as the planning time needed. I recommend blocking time 12 weeks in advance of a show or event to do the planning.
Give Yourself a Plan
It will take time to work with each salesperson. We’re currently in a period of intense change, so it’s likely your plans will shift as you pivot to find market opportunities. As a leader, make sure you give yourself time to plan and decompress. Use your own calendar to plan and schedule so that you have time to do the things you need to and get some time for yourself. If you’re tired and crabby, please don’t coach your salespeople on planning! You need to be at your best when engaging in any kind of coaching.
Keep them fired up so they don’t slump.
Try these ideas to fire up your sales team this summer and let me know how they work. Summer is a great time to work on basics and these basics will add consistency and predictability to your sales.
Here’s the link to schedule a chat with me and some ideas to fire up your sales team.
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.