Inc. Magazine’s recent article “Why Are People Really Unhappy About Their Jobs? The Whole Reason Can Be Summed Up in 2 Words” describes two reasons why the “great shuffle” happens today. Increased salaries and a basic “thank-you” are no longer working for burnt out employees. The studies presented in the article show that leaders must learn how to recognize employees in a way that they will feel valued to end the “great reshuffle”.
Setting Up Task Force Teams for Sales
During my career, the method that I used to win over hearts and minds of was task force teams. These team members should engage in setting processes, policies, metrics and KPIs for the SDR team.
When I am asked to re-tool a SDR or Inside Sales organization, I use task force teams to gain trust and energize team members. To do this, I conducted interviews with each team member within the first week in my role. Then, I created task force teams regarding the specific yet common issues and concerns that I uncovered during these interviews. These issues and concerns have included topics such as Key Performance Indicators (metrics used to manage the team), Commission Rates, Quotas, CRM, Contracts, etc.
I asked that team members join one or more of the task forces to resolve the outstanding issues. I informed them that some executive-level issues—commissions and quotas—may not resolve exactly as envisioned. My teams knew that once our recommendations were approved, we would be held accountable for achieving our projected numbers.
I limited participation to 5-7 members for each of the task force teams. Here is how I managed the task force teams:
- I started with a brainstorm session or two which helped us get all ideas on the board for later review
- Following the brainstorming session(s), I conducted the ideas review. During this phase, task force teams review and eliminate any idea(s) that are not viable
- The team captures and reviews task force recommendations in a PowerPoint deck prior to presenting to the manager (me in this case)
- Each Task Force Leader presents the approved recommendations to the entire team. The team understands that they should follow the approved task force recommendations. In most cases, there was a 95%+ agreement rate about the recommendations as outlined by the various task force teams
Task Force Teams—Case Study
One of the organizations that I turned around was the Inside Sales team for a company that had lost half its clients and hadn’t seen any new business since the recession. The Inside Sales team had not hit their revenue targets in many years.
During the assessment of the organization, I found that no one held the sales team accountable for their metrics. For example, Sales Reps didn’t have quotas. The sales funnel was full of opportunities, but 80% of these were no longer viable deals. There was no sales methodology in place to effectively manage deals through the sales pipeline.
In addition, there were no KPIs or metrics in place. Team members made fewer than 10 dials per day. I knew we had to get that number up because this was a phone job and the only opportunity to get more prospects was by calling them. I realized that my Sales Management experience was key in getting this team to achieve their goals and increase revenue.
Working with the task force teams, we decided on a sales methodology and types of metrics that the team agreed would help them achieve their newly assigned quotas. Everyone agreed to the minimum metrics and worked towards them as a team. At the end of the first year, revenue had increased by 57%, and revenue from new prospects had increased by 80%
Sometimes, I don’t agree with task force recommendations. If their recommendations are way off the mark (from my experience), I work with the team to get their ideas to align with what I know will work. Ultimately, however, the caveat is that if we don’t see improvement within 90-days, we will need to regroup and come up with a better process or set of metrics. This becomes a continuous improvement process in which experimentation is essential. Similarly, Sales Management is not a stagnant process.
As the manager of a team, you need to be flexible and listen to the suggestions of your employees. Sales Management is about working with your employees and, ideally, empowering task force members to work together to analyze the success of their recommendations. Review task force recommendations and results at the end of each quarter.
There are many studies about Sales Management and employee involvement in the decision making process. Most research agrees that active participation has positive effects on performance, and thus productivity. For example, C. A. L. Pearson conducted an experiment involving two groups of workers: a group of employees who set goals, and a control group that executed traditional work procedures. The results showed not only that those “who were engaged in participative goal setting reported […] greater job satisfaction”, but that “goal setting and performance were positively related.”  Similarly, another paper found that “empowered employees largely improve performance by finding innovative ways of correcting errors in service delivery and redesigning work processes.” 
These findings are in line with my own experience, and show that if you get the buy-ins from your employees, you will see an increase in performance, productivity, and eventually revenue.
Rather than telling the team what to do, I give my teams the ability to determine their destiny. When teams have the opportunity to provide their input on specific aspects of the job, the manager has their “buy-in,” and team members can work toward the assigned goals. Why wouldn’t they? It’s their plans and ideas and, therefore, their responsibility to make them work. This process has worked for me and has helped my teams greatly improve their performance.
Employee retention should be at the top of every company’s list. Allow them to give input into how they should do their jobs in order to improve morale and reduce exits
Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.
Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.