Listen Up! What Your Sales Reps Aren’t Telling You

After years of being in frontline sales, you finally have your own team, are responsible for a sizable portion of your company’s revenue generation and are confident you’re going to hit your quota. You’ve also learned a lot along the way – for example, no matter how approachable you try to be or how many team outings you host, there are some things that your sales reps just don’t tell you.

To be a good manager, you must learn how to listen to your sales reps, anticipate their needs and quickly recognize signs of unrest. Here are three important issues that tend to slip by sales leaders but can have serious impacts on their teams, and how to effectively address them.

They’re Not Using Your CRM

Although many sales leaders feel that they already know what a day in the life of an account executive looks like, you might be surprised to learn that your employees are using spreadsheets on the side, or saving deal notes in their email drafts folder, because they don’t find your CRM user-friendly or mobile-ready. In fact, 55% of reps feel that their CRM is more of a hindrance than a help.

The best way to tell if your reps are using your CRM is to do an analysis of the data that lives there. If your reps are half-heartedly entering minimal information just to appease management and get by, the data will let you know. And if you don’t like what you discover, it’s time to make a change.

It may be time to replace your outdated legacy CRM with an intuitive, next-generation sales platform built to drive rep adoption through ease of use. As sales veteran Mike Logan explains, “It’s all about providing your reps with a sales productivity tool that they love and makes their jobs easier. That way, the reps aren’t putting the data in to serve their managers; they’re doing it because it helps them run their business better. By solving for the rep first I get my data as a byproduct.”

They Think Forecasting Is a Waste of Time

Forecasting, or the process of predicting future sales revenue over a given period of time, is a crucial exercise that informs sales leaders and other executives how to most effectively and efficiently manage the business. When it comes to allocating resources, providing guidance to investors and other crucial tasks, companies often live and die by their sales forecasts.

However, in the words of famous sales guru and author Jason Jordan, “By the time you get to a frontline sales person, they really would rather not have to forecast at all. I’ve never heard a sales person say, ‘If I didn’t forecast I would never make my quota.’ No forecast has ever changed the actual forecast.” Rather than spending time crunching numbers and making (somewhat) educated guesses about the future, your reps would rather be taking the necessary actions to improve their conversion and close rates. Of course, the forecast still needs to be done.

To appease your reps and your boss, try using an automated sales forecasting tool that can help you more accurately predict sales performance and produce the results in a ready-to-use visual report. Jordan continues, “Depending on the size of the organization, every manager spends 5-20 hours a month forecasting or doing reporting that ultimately leads to forecasting. That’s hundreds of thousands of hours a month sales leadership is spending doing nothing but handing guesses upward into the organization. If they could take that time and spend it managing better downward, it would be much more productive.”

They Want to Be Coached

Let’s be real: being a good sales coach is hard. That’s probably why 73% of sales managers admit to spending less than 5% of their time coaching – because perhaps the only thing worse than not coaching at all is coaching poorly. While your reps may visibly rebel against 1:1s that take the form of performance evaluations or weekly play-by-plays, they crave real, genuine sales coaching that teaches them how to overcome challenges in their sales process and performance.

The problem is that reps are often unsure of the areas where they need improvement and when and how to ask for coaching. That’s why, as a manager, one of the most important coaching skills to learn is to teach your reps how to evaluate their own performance. All reps should have access to the data they need to independently track progress, make more strategic decisions and ask for specific advice.

Scientific sales leaders are choosing sales software that has the power to capture and process big data and provides real-time analytics plus robust permission controls. This way, reps are getting their hands on the reports they need when they need them and take a more active role in their own coaching. Examples of sales reports that a coach might provide his or her reps include call and email outcomes, time to first action, sales goals and more.

Listen & Learn

The relationship between sales rep and manager is a powerful one full of opportunity for spurring both personal and professional growth. As such, it’s important for managers to truly listen to reps and pay attention to what they might not be saying. For more insight into how your reps might be thinking and feeling about sales processes, tools and more, download our free white paper: 5 Reasons Why Your Reps Don’t Want to Use CRM (But Should!).

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Rachel Serpa

Rachel Serpa

December 14, 2016

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