Anyone who knows me knows that I wholeheartedly believe that sales people can be the most difficult people in the world to manage.
And I should know, I am one.
As a group, they are boisterous and smooth talking. They don’t really do detail and most seem to enjoy flying close to the edge.
But those are the traits that make them good at selling. A good sales person can connect with you and get you to sign on the dotted line. But without the detail and record keeping, they’ll never be a great sales person.
Training up a new member of a sales team to keep the kinds of records we want is always tricky, but the reward is huge and well worth the perseverance.
So how do you get them to take down the detail and keep up to date records on their deals?
I’ve got three words for you: Listen, Document, and Incentivise.
Sales people love to talk, so ask them what kinds of information they would find the most useful to record. If you’ve got a big team, get them to brainstorm the top five things they need to know about an ongoing sales opportunity. Yes I know you will have your own thoughts but getting this 'buy in', with some ownership from the sales person will just make everyones life easier.
Hopefully these 5 items line up with the five things you, as their manager, need to see.
But even if you don’t, you now have ten pieces of information that need to be recorded.
Now that you know the vital information, add it to your CRM. Create any custom fields you need and take some time to organise the page in a sensible manner. By making field population easy for them, you stand a better chance of getting your team to fill in the necessary information.
Tip: Making fields mandatory is a great way to get people to fill in the absolutely vital information, but if you make too many fields mandatory, the records become a pain to populate. So be sensible. The trick is be to be sure that the information you are requesting is available at this time, don't make your sales people guess - you know they will and it devalues what you are trying to achieve.
Now you need to give them some kind of incentive to start filling in these records. You might start basing sales commission off the Opportunities or you could make one of their KPIs relate to fully populated records—no records, no bonus.
It may sound harsh, but in my experience, the actual adjustment period is quite short. Once your sales team start seeing the benefits of good record keeping reflected in the opportunities they’re winning, they’ll turn it into a normal part of their process.
Lets be honest, if they follow the rules and record the data required in an intelligent way everyone will be happy - the sales team win more deals and you both reap the financial rewards, not to mention the streamlined approach to pipeline management that you as a manager get - as they say "Its all good" !