When you’re behind on targets, it often turns from a marathon to a sprint to try and recover. We've all been in that situation from time to time when the end of the month/quarter/year is looming and we are not quite where we need to be. As a sales manager you are responsible for getting things back on track. There is no magic formula, but following a solid process to up the tempo means you won't end up falling on your face when you start sprinting.
1. Keep calm and get real
If you are leading the team then you need to remain calm and confident. Be honest about the current challenge but remain objective and realistic about what can and needs to be done. You need to get the team motivated to succeed and setting wacky impossible to reach targets may sound impressive in the heat of a pep talk but if the team doesn't believe that it can be done, then you're all going to fail.
2. Get the team focused
To catch up you're going to have to change gears, but it's important that when you up the tempo you don't do it in a haphazard way. Your team should power through the finish line rather than running there in a blind panic - so there are three key areas to look at.
Firstly, challenge the team to assess their list of vacancies and get a way of assessing who is ready to make a hire and who is shopping for the perfect candidate. By taking this approach, each recruiter can channel their efforts and activities on to vacancies and clients that can convert now. Next up, re-evaluate some of the jobs that are hard and will need a more concerted effort and get retainers on these clients giving you some money up front. This will also filter through the clients that are committed to hiring qualifying out those who are not.
Finally, make sure your team are working smartly by splitting your resourcing across key areas that you can get money in i.e. focus on the candidates and the skills that are in-demand so you can get the maximum offers and chances to place that candidate.
3. Get creative
If you do what you’ve always done then you will get what you’ve always got. If you are trying to recover, you need to win some of the ones that wouldn't happen anyway and bring some that are likely to happen forward. Ideally you need to close more that wouldn’t happen and pull less forward. This means you need to be flexible. Chances are you'll be working with some tight constraints about what you can and can't do. And remember, don't be silly about what you bring forward. Pushing deals forward a couple of days is probably okay but don't rob next month as you’ll only end up in recovery mode again.
4. Make a plan
Once you figure out the creative deals you are going for, agree who owns each one and make them accountable for bringing it in. Code each one of the jobs you are looking to close as ‘’recovery’’ in your recruitment software, or you may want to give this a more fun name like ‘’Rocky’’ who was famous for coming back from against the odds. If you're all in the one office then you can create a hit list on a whiteboard and people can have the satisfaction of scoring the deals off as they come in.
5. Communication is King
Communicate with the team to build momentum. A high performing team should be like a pack of distance runners who keep hitting their targets mile after mile at a consistent pace, if they slip behind then they will need to sprint to catch up. When you are sprinting it's critical to get a good start, quickly build momentum and continue at a steady and controlled, fast pace.
So prepare the team for the sprint by covering the above points keep calm, get focused, be creative and make a plan. Build momentum by sharing regular updates of deals being closed as they happen, challenge the team on who will bring in the first one! Establish a rhythm with daily stand ups where the team can share how they worked on their recovery list yesterday, any barriers and plan for that day to make progress. As sales manager your role is to help break down barriers...sprinting is hard enough without hurdles as well!
It is worth noting that if you find yourself in this situation on a regular basis then something isn’t working and you need to take a step back and assess your overall sales approach. We’ll cover this in another blog post, but to start you off you should at least have some type of tool to forecast what placements will be made when, the probability and associated revenue.
About the Author: Alan is the Commercial Director here at Firefish. He makes sure that we keep getting new customers hooked on Firefish and helps to develop the sales aspects of the product. When he is not Firefishing for new clients he loves spending time with his family and doing endurance events like open water swimming and triathlons.