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Directors’ Briefing Selling

your sales
Getting the most out of your sales team is 1.3 The key attribute for many sales people is
essential if you are going to achieve your attitude and enthusiasm (see 6).
company’s full potential. But it is not always
easy. Sales people operate in a stressful • Demotivated sales team members make
environment where they are exposed ineffective and reluctant sales people.
to rejection and frustration. Effective
organisation and motivation of the team
is vital. 2 Recruiting

This briefing covers: 2.1 Use appropriate channels to find

potential recruits.
• Getting the right sales people.
• Planning and monitoring the sales effort. • Advertise in publications such as the Daily
• Allocating account management Telegraph or the Guardian.
responsibilities. The weekly Grocer magazine is also used
• Motivating and rewarding the team. by sales personnel from all industries.
Visit or call 01293
1 What you want • Use internet job sites such as www. and
1.1 Use your sales strategy to define the type
and number of sales people you need.

• For example, if you have decided to cold-

call prospective customers, you may prefer
sales people with telesales experience.

1.2 Look out for skills that reflect your

business needs.

• At least some experience of sales and sales

negotiation is needed, particularly in newly
established businesses.
• You may need sales people with existing
contacts in your customer base.
• Decide how much knowledge about your
product and market you want.
• Develop existing skills through training
(see 3).

England Reviewed 01/04/11

Directors’ Briefing 2

• Ask existing team members if they know of • Use basic pay to reflect the importance
potential recruits. of sales activities that do not generate
• Network, and get recommendations from commission, such as customer care.
your customers. • If individual sales people’s efforts have little
• Approach competitors’ sales effect on sales performance, you may offer
representatives directly. higher basic pay. For example, the job
may consist largely of order-taking rather
2.2 Choose your sales team carefully. A poor than selling.
sales person has a disproportionate power • If the pay package includes significant
to harm your business. performance-related pay, you will need to
convince sales people that your company
• Plan thoroughly before you interview. offers good sales potential.
• Involve existing team members in the • Consider other ‘perks’ that sales people
recruitment process. may find attractive.
• Make sure team managers have the right For example, a company car.
skills for their roles (see 6.2). • Be aware that high sales remuneration can
cause conflict with other employees in less
2.3 Use an appropriate employment contract. well-paid areas. Make sure sales people’s
pay packages can be justified.
• Many contracts include a clause that
aims to limit sales people’s ability to take
3 Training and development

customers away when they leave.
• Set out a code of conduct and define If you plan to
clearly what is unacceptable behaviour. 3.1 New recruits will need a basic induction. introduce non-
For example, poaching customers from sales people into
other sales people or submitting ‘creative’ • Give them information about your products, selling roles, you
expenses forms. company and market. may need to
• Brief new recruits on your company sales overcome sales
2.4 Use competitive remuneration to help strategy and policy. Ensure they understand aversion. Gradually
attract and retain good sales people. your standard terms and conditions of sale. wean employees
• Spell out all other relevant details. into the role, by
• The aim is to achieve an appropriate For example, your policy on dress code, inviting them to
balance between basic and incentive pay travel expenses and entertainment costs. attend internal
(see box, page 3). sales meetings and
• Low-basic, high-commission pay structures
are often suitable for young firms, as they
keep fixed costs down.
3.2 Monitor and develop employees’ customer
contact skills.

• Many sales people need to improve their

June Lonsdale,
Anglo Recycling
Technology Ltd

customer visits.

listening skills and learn ask intelligent

Using the right tools • Use rehearsal and role-play to develop your
team’s customer contact expertise.
A Provide appropriate sales materials. • Develop sales people’s negotiation skills.
• Set up relevant training courses and
• Create a set of standard documents, monitor their impact.
such as call sheets, standard contracts
and proposal forms. 3.3 Use individual coaching to build
• Provide promotional material. For confidence and expertise.
example, brochures and price lists.
• Give support documentation, such as • Accompany individual sales people to
telesales scripts. key meetings so you can observe them
in action and give meaningful, objective
B Give your sales team the equipment feedback.
they need. • Plan opportunities to meet and motivate
employees, before and after sales calls
• A good database is essential. (see 6).
• Your sales team may need powerful • Work with sales people individually to
contact management software if you overcome problems, build strengths and
have many high-value customers. provide opportunities for development.
• Mobile phones and laptop computers
are basic tools of the trade. 3.4 Monitor progress by holding quarterly
performance appraisals.
Directors’ Briefing 3

• Be positive. Focus on opportunities to 4.2 Agree key performance indicators.

improve performance.
• Pay particular attention to those areas • Define what number of sales should come
where employees may feel little incentive from which number of visits, calls or
to perform. contacts — your sales ‘conversion rate’.
For example, keeping good sales records. • Set out the sales and contribution required
• Discuss with individuals whether from each sales person.
underperformance is their own fault or a • Assess levels of customer retention and
problem with some aspect of your sales repeat business.
strategy or sales support. • Beware of setting the wrong indicators.

For example, measuring the number of

4 Team objectives telephone calls made might be appropriate
for simple telesales but not for managing
4.1 Work with your sales team to set key accounts.
sales targets.
4.3 Monitor individual performance in weekly
• Negotiation is essential to secure sales one-to-one meetings.
people’s involvement.
• Be aware that sales people are often keen • Base monitoring on the key performance
to focus on customers who bring them indicators.
short-term benefits. • Concentrate on assessing the profitability of
• Agree monthly targets based on your sales activities, rather than volume.
sales forecasts. • Understand the challenges of different
• Set targets for individual accounts, accounts or territories that may be more
individual team members and different difficult to sell to.
sales teams. It may be necessary to adjust your targets.
• Avoid setting targets too high. • Use individual performance monitoring to
Failure to achieve unrealistic targets can identify weak links.
demotivate your team. • Use tracking software to help improve
• Avoid raising targets because of previous your understanding of sales people’s
good performance. performance, and your ability to
It is better to agree increases based on the develop them.
company’s overall performance.

Incentive pay 5 Organising the team

A Structure incentive pay to reflect your 5.1 Plan your sales team’s activities using your
business objectives. sales strategy.

• For example, do not pay commission • Clearly communicate your sales objectives.
based on sales volume if your aim is For example, in relation to new and
to increase the number of high-margin existing businesses.
sales you make. • Outline how you want to deal with
different accounts.
B Use incentive pay structures that • Agree how much time is to be allocated
reflect the challenges of the sales selling different products, to different types
environment. of customer, in different areas.
• Agree a sales budget. For example, for any
• Rates of commission should be linked promotional material or equipment the sales
to the selling price, and to the amount of team require (see box, page 2).
effort needed to make the sale. • Tell the team about sales margins and pricing.
It could range from 5 per cent, if the • Set out your policy on incentive pay
product is easy to sell, to higher rates if (see box, page 3).
a major effort is needed.
• Offer weekly or monthly bonuses for 5.2 Allocate responsibility for different
sales people working in competitive accounts, products or geographical
markets, such as advertising. territories.

Review incentive pay annually and adjust as • It is wise to negotiate responsibility with
necessary. individuals in the sales team.
Directors’ Briefing 4

• Keep to a minimum the number of people • This is particularly important for team Expert
handling each account. Many customers members responsible for winning major contributors
prefer a single account manager, even contracts.
if other individuals are involved in selling • Hold regular one-to-one meetings to Thanks to Guy
particular products. discuss objectives, performance and Aston (Huthwaite
• Maximise your sales team’s productive problems. Watch out for signs of low International, 01709
time by using sales support and customer morale or personal problems. 710 081).
service employees. • Take every opportunity to praise,
• Put your best sales people into new sales congratulate and motivate.
initiatives, letting you benchmark what can • Work to minimise stress levels among
be achieved. employees.
• Where different sales people are handling
the same account, set out how they will 6.2 Improve team managers’ leadership skills.
communicate (see 5.4).
• Be aware of the danger of creating conflict • As well as being good sales people,
between team members. team leaders must also have strong
For example, if two people both feel they organisational and administrative skills.
have contributed to making a sale, or both • Team leaders need to be a coach,listening
want to be allocated a profitable client. to, supporting and developing each team
5.3 Set clear ground rules for the level of
responsibility and freedom sales people 6.3 Work to build the team.
have. For example, agree whether they
decide when to contact customers, or if • Keep a league table of team and individual
they have to follow a set call plan. achievements.
For example, identify territories or
• Outline how far sales people can plan and customers where sales have been
carry out customer contacts independently. particularly successful and reward all
For example, telesales might follow a script, those involved in that success, including
routine sales contacts would be handled support and customer service employees.
independently, and key sales people would • Plan social events for the team to
plan (and attend) key meetings. relax together.
• Set out what budgets are available for
travel and customer entertainment.
• Tell sales people what freedom they have to
negotiate discounts.

5.4 Organise and communicate information.

• Get sales people to complete weekly sales

activities reports.
• Hold weekly team meetings, monthly for
field-based employees.
Share news and discuss problems.
• Get sales people to report back customer
comments, enquiries and complaints.
• Agree priorities for the next week or month,
including specific objectives.
• Allow sales people to access sales © BHP Information
information using an extranet or internet Solutions Ltd 2011.
service such as ISSN 1369-1996. All
rights reserved. No
part of this publication
may be reproduced or
6 Motivating the team transmitted without the
written permission of the
publisher. This publication
The motivation and support of your sales team is for general guidance
is a key factor in achieving your sales and only. The publisher, expert
contributors and distributor
business objectives. disclaim all liability for
any errors or omissions.
6.1 Give sales people the support they need. Consult your local business
support organisation or your
professional adviser for help
and advice.

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Tel: 020 8672 6844,