If you manage a sales team or are the senior member on your squad, you’ve likely been asked to parachute in on an at-risk sale. While you’re not literally strapping a parachute to your back, you are being asked to solve other people’s problems. That may be in the job description of a leader, but the way most leaders go about salvaging sales does nothing for the long-term success of the team.
Unfortunately, taking the time to jump on every sales call and solve problems 1:1 means putting out the same fires over and over. When we sat down with Josh Fonger, we learned that great sales leaders focus on solving problems once – but for the entire team (and even the team members that haven’t been hired yet!).
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To begin extricating yourself from parachuting into your at-risk sales, you have to slow down and determine what your salespeople tell you/send to you that normally causes you to parachute in.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t solve the problem on this sale, Josh says. However, we do have to begin tracking what our salespeople are doing that’s causing the sale to become at-risk.
Once we identify the triggers that cause us to strap on our packs and prepare to launch ourselves into a sale, we can then begin permanently solving the problems that put sales at risk in the first place.
R – Repeatable: Josh recommends that if we want to stop salvaging sales, we have to have a process in place that is accessible and easy to find. A black book or word document no one sees doesn’t serve the team now or new members in the future.
Whatever you or your salespeople are capturing is accessible and easy to find – and is used consistently. If salespeople intermittently capture problems that put sales at-risk, it means that they’ll either continue to lose sales for preventable reasons or more 1:1 time from the leader as they parachute in.
I – Improvable: If leaders are taking time to document the reasons that sales are becoming at risk, they first have to document the way things are currently being done. If some team members are good at prospecting, others at closing, and others at developing relationships, Josh recommends capturing each of their best practices throughout the sales cycle.
Once that’s done, problems will become apparent that individual salespeople may never see. Additionally, the best practices can become the beginning of a prospecting system that is guaranteed to produce better results than ‘winging it’. Once a basic best-practice sheet is available, the work of improving the process begins.
M – Measurable: First, leaders should measure how many sales they’re currently salvaging, which salespeople those deals are attached to, and the solutions to salvage them in the future (for instance, if a deal is stalled because the gatekeeper wouldn’t allow access to a decision maker, establishing decision makers earlier in the conversation would be a potential solution). After the new system is implemented and problems are being permanently solved, leaders should see if the numbers of sales they’re asked to salvage goes down – and of course, if the same problems are recurring or new problems are cropping up.
To measure the effectiveness of this system, Josh says to conduct spot-checks on account notes to ensure folks are using the systems we’ve developed. Monitoring random sales calls is also helpful because salespeople won’t know which calls will be recorded – encouraging them to follow the systems the team puts in place.