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Why An Open-door Policy Doesn’t Work

Why You Need A Sales Operating System

Updated March 2021

Do you need a way to accelerate improvements within your sales organization? What about scheduling more meetings? (Politely holds ears while you grumble.) Please hear me out, because I’ve got a solution that will result in better use of your time and will help you focus on more tactful strategies. It is called a Sales Operating System (SOS). No not the universal code for extreme distress, rather a way to improve your overall sales performance and to save you from your own sales anguish.

Does This Sound Like You?

Do you feel like an effective sales manager because you’re in constant motion? You probably field nonstop phone calls and plenty of interruptions! You have brief ad hoc exchanges with your salespeople throughout the day.

You feel you have an “open-door policy.” Salespeople can come to you at any time with issues. Why doesn’t this work? How many of your underperforming salespeople ever walk through your open door and say, “I’m not doing well” or “I’m not sure what I should be doing differently to get better results?”

Probably never.

So, should you let them continue to flail? We worry about being micro managers and want them to do their jobs. They should be able to - they’re professionals. However, according to Cision PR Newswire, “16.3% of employees said their manager was horrible at soliciting feedback on their employee experience, and 40% rated them okay – they ask for feedback only once or twice a year.”

Yes, you talk with your sales team frequently. I call those “drive-by” conversations, but you may not be talking about the right things. Most drive-by discussions are about the status of a deal or a quick decision that needs to be made. While you feel engaged and are extremely busy, it’s sort of like trying to manage a game from the sidelines. You’re yelling nonstop at the players from the bleachers when what you really need to do is to call a time out so that you can discuss strategy, get organized, and get back out there.

Your Sales Operating System

The best way for us to improve anything is through structured learning and accountability. According to Businesswire, a Globo force survey, “89% of HR leaders surveyed agree ongoing peer feedback and check-ins have a positive impact on their organizations.”

Whether it’s playing a musical instrument or speaking a foreign language, we learn best when there’s a logical series of steps, clear assignments, and helpful feedback regarding our progress. A Sales Operating System will give your organization structure and help you develop a regular cadence of activities to keep your people on track. Your days will be more focused and less hectic. Everyone will get more done.

A Sales Operating System is a consistent rhythm of meetings and communications with members of your team including:

  • Weekly one-on-one meetings to talk about the salesperson’s activities and provide meaningful feedback to keep them focused and develop their skills.
  • Weekly sales team meetings to recognize accomplishments, share business insights, challenges, best practices and provide training.
  • Monthly forecast or pipeline review meetings to review the salesperson’s opportunities and determine where to focus.
  • Quarterly planning updates to look at how the salesperson is doing against the plan. What’s the plan for the next quarter? Can it be updated based on what you’ve learned?
  • Annual meeting to set goals for the year and to create plans for how to achieve them.

With pre-determined agendas for each meeting, everyone will know how to prepare for these meetings and what to expect.

Why a Sales Operating System Works

With a Sales Operating System, you will have better conversations with each person about their activities. How are they spending their time? What’s working? What’s not? As a manager, you will be able to provide more focused coaching and make more timely adjustments because you’ve got the broader picture, and you get it in a systematic and focused way. You’ll be managing from facts instead of listening to stories.

You’ll also reduce those time-stealing interruptions because each person has frequently scheduled meeting times with you. And guess what? When they save things to discuss later, the most critical issues rise to the top, and many of the less important ones will either go away on their own, or the salesperson will learn to deal with them on their own, which is practical learning.

There is one thing to keep in mind if you decide to implement it. Almost without exception, every time we help businesses put a Sales Operating System into place, the sales manager will tell me it takes too much time, and the salespeople will say they hate it. But soon, there’s a predictable shift. The salespeople start depending on the meetings and say that the one-on-one time with their manager is the best thing that’s happened in a long time.

The Results Speak for Themselves

Sales leaders discover that a Sales Operating System frees up their time to spend on the most important things. In a world of very busy people, you’ve got to think: “First things first; second things never.” With an SOS, you’ll soon discover that the rest doesn’t matter as much as you might think it does.

If you want to see a sample of a Sales Operating System or a one-on-one meeting agenda, reach out to us at info@pivotaladvisors.com or phone (952) 226 – 3381.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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