While that may be a fun word to hear when it’s your birthday, it usually does not bring good news for a sales manager. Anyone who wants to properly manage a sales team, let alone a business knows that surprises are not good.
While it’s good to have a positive energy, a sales team cannot run on hope and hope alone. Because a sales pipeline run on hope results in surprises… and more often than not they are not good surprises.
When you build up a pipeline full of hard-to-reach customers, big clients, or just plain “long shots”, you are setting yourself up for bad surprises. It’s much better to set up a realistic pipeline, thus avoiding all surprises (good and bad), because being realistic, you already know what is likely to happen.
When a new salesperson joins your team, be very clear and honest about what is expected from him/her. What do you expect from your sales team on a daily basis? How do you recommend they meet their goals – what actions do you recommend they take (active calling, emailing, etc.)? How does the company want its salespeople to act and treat customers? Some of this may seem like common sense when you’ve been with a company for a while, but remember for new team members this may not seem so obvious to them.
Plan, plan, plan
While we know that planning is the bane of your existence, it’s still necessary. Since you already know how to create the perfect pipeline, you know that the key to success is to plan. When you have a pipeline full of qualified leads, with action throughout the entire process, you will know exactly where you stand on meeting your sales goals. When you see you are lacking something in any area of the pipeline (qualified leads, email communications, meetings); you can plan ahead and try to prepare to fill out the pipeline.
Speaking of filling your pipeline, if you are lacking more qualified leads, the fastest and easiest way is to use our FindThatLead plugin to find email addresses for your future customers, all within a few clicks and a few seconds.
Once you’ve organized your pipeline and planned the steps you need to take, don’t forget to follow through! After failing to plan, the easiest way to get surprised is by a simple lack of follow through. Forgetting to re-contact leads, sending proposals, or not re-scheduling meetings that get cancelled will cause your leads to fall through the gap. Always follow through until the last step possible.
When a sale isn’t going as expected, don’t try to hide it from your sales team. This way you are surely setting yourself up for a negative surprise. Not only is this the best way to prepare your company pipeline for a future letdown, your colleagues may be able to help you. If you’re dealing with a difficult lead, it’s quite possible a colleague has had a similar customer and may have some tips to change your strategy or approach.
But Really, No Surprises?
Ok, ok. We know that sometimes (good) surprises can be fun! We’re not telling you to set yourself up for a very boring work existence, with every move planned down to the T that there´s no longer any excitement in the sales process.
You can keep a few “dream clients” in your pipeline base. These are leads that you know will be very difficult to close, but if you do close them, the hard work will be well worth your effort (whether the customer has a high reputation, is able to afford an expensive package, or any other value). Then if and when you do close the lead, you will have a great happy surprise!
However, it’s important to remember only to keep a few of these types of leads in your pipeline, lest your days become full of bad surprises.
Agree of disagree with surprises on a sales team? Let us know on social media what you think!