How A Sales Operating System Can Benefit You
Are you feeling disorganized? Do you track your daily and weekly meetings? Are you always putting out fires? Have your one-on-one sessions and ride-alongs dropped off? If you feel like you’re underwater and don’t recognize that specific meetings and tasks have fallen off your plate, then it’s time for you to set up a Sales Operating System.
What is a Sales Operating System?
A Sales Operating System is a collection of proven management tools, processes, and knowledge that empowers sales leaders to drive their teams with objectivity, consistency, and passion. A Sales Operating System allows you to grow sales proactively to changing markets and fine-tune your organization in real-time. In short, it is the rhythm or cadence for how you manage your sales team.
Why Do You Need a Sales Operating System?
An implemented, consistent rhythm of meetings for managing and supporting the sales team can:
- Give you access to the information needed to run your sales team and make good decisions.
- Provide your salespeople with meaningful feedback to keep them focused and develop their skills.
- Drive accountability.
- Provide opportunities for coaching and development.
- Create better communication among team members and executives.
- Ultimately save the sales leader time because the team effectively operates within the system.
Creating a Sales Operating System
When creating or implementing your Sales Operating System, identify which meetings you will have and their frequency. This includes team meetings, one-on-ones, ride-alongs with salespeople, forecasting, planning, etc. Decide which are critical and create a schedule to ensure they happen. Periodically it is a good idea to evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings. You’ll want to use an effectiveness checklist, not just a verbal checklist to get feedback from the people attending the meetings. Make sure that your meetings are:
- Well organized
Can you list everything you do in a week? How many things are on that list 10? 20? Typically, it’s a list of about 25 tasks that fall into three main buckets: managing people, managing customer needs, and managing the business. A few items on that long list include selling, going on sales calls with people, participating in leadership meetings, meeting with your teams, doing one-on-one’s, and so on.
What falls off that list when you’re busy? We consistently see these three things: one-on-ones, coaching, and sales team meetings. Oddly enough, when asked what are the most impactful things for driving your teams? Sales team meetings, coaching, and one-on-ones are at the top of the list. So, why do the activities that are most impactful to your organizations fall off?
One-on-one meetings, coaching, and team meetings shouldn’t fall off the radar even if you are putting out fires all week. Team meetings are a time to set expectations, reinforce good behaviors, and update salespeople on the team and company goals. According to O.C. Tanner having a weekly one-on-one meeting increases productivity by 67% vs. having a monthly one-on-one meeting which increases productivity only 31%.
One way to make sure these meetings don’t fall off or go missing is to build them into your Sales Operating System. If you want more information on sales meetings, please check out our blog on, “How To Run An Effective Team Meeting.”
Communicate with your team
As you host meetings with your teams, you will want to communicate the importance of preserving and attending the meetings. When you communicate, you will need to:
- Listen and ask questions
- Provide feedback
- Follow up
To communicate effectively, it is essential to know the ‘audience’ for whom the message is intended. When you are talking to your team, they might want to know the details of specific deals, whereas your CEO might not care about particular details. According to Smarp, “72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy.” So, make sure your message is clear and concise, because if an idea is not understood, you can never express it to someone else. The message should be clearly defined.
Clarify – Have an Agenda
Next, you need an agenda for every meeting you are leading. A plan makes sure only the essential topics and issues are discussed and that you stay on track. Agendas ensure that meetings start and end on time so that attendees aren’t stuck in an unproductive meeting. A plan also allows others to speak and provide updates, encourages participation, and lets people share their wins and be recognized. If you want more information on a good meeting agenda, check out our blog on, “Is Your Sales Team Adopting EOS?“
Listen and Ask Questions – Empathically
To make sure your team understands you and you understand them, you need to hear them out. Empathic listening is a technique that allows you to develop and enhance relationships with a stronger understanding intellectually and emotionally. According to 3WordMeetings, “the average person spends between 70 – 80% of their day engaged in some form of communication, and only about 55% of their time is devoted to listening.”
In order to be a better empathic listener:
- Do not judge – let go of your own opinions and focus on your salesperson’s perspective.
- Listen carefully to feelings – don’t just take in the facts, but how did your salesperson feel?
- Ask questions – dig deeper and ask lots of questions to get a clear understanding.
- Follow up – check-in with your salesperson after the initial conversation.
Listen to your sales team on an individual level and group level. As a leader and coach, your goal should be to have your team members arrive at a conclusion so they learn vs. just telling them what to do.
Provide Positive Feedback
Positive feedback is one of the best tools in your arsenal when you are trying to encourage change. Officevibe statistics strongly support the value of feedback: “four out of 10 workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback; and 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week as opposed to 18% of low engagement employees.” The purpose of giving effective feedback is to improve the situation or a person’s performance. When your feedback is harsh, critical, or offensive, people have a hard time learning from it because they may become defensive or insulted. Feedback promotes engagement and supports a standard of work that allows others to see what can change to improve their focus and results.
Positive feedback should be specific, timely, and given often. Treating feedback as if it were a discussion between you and your salesperson helps you build trust, connection, and is more effective.
Timely Follow Up
It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-on-one, team meeting, or a weekly email; most meetings will have a set of takeaways, deliverables, or actions. Be clear on what those items are and how you will follow up on them. Send an email right after the meeting, or the next day.
Following-up with your team reinforces excellent performance and behavior and provides necessary feedback. If you fail to “inspect what you expect,” people will pick up on that quickly and be less compelled to do what is asked of them. Following up keeps everyone on track and allows for strong accountability. If you want more information on accountability, check out our blog “Accountability – what does it really look Like?“
Now you know how a Sales Operating System can benefit you and your sales team. You’ll have more time, structure, and knowledge after you have this setup and implemented.
If you want more insight or have questions about Sales Operating Systems, please reach out to Kyle Smythe at firstname.lastname@example.org.