Building an Effective Battle Rhythm Part 1: Establishing Your Priorities
As much as salespeople like to think they are independent spirits, they really crave a structure within their job that enables them to maximize their time, spending as much as possible in revenue generating activities.
The number one thing sales managers and company ownership does regularly to sabotage this structure is schedule un-needed meetings and not maintain a regular schedule. Just like sales people need a refined sales process to successfully sell their product, sales managers need their own management process to help ensure they are continually adding value to their team and not just meeting for the sake of meeting. In the military this is called a battle rhythm. The Commander establishes a battle rhythm to synchronize the recurring activities of his staff and subordinate Commanders. Everyone understands where they need to be, when they need to be there and what they are expected to contribute.
When you make the decision to implement a battle rhythm for your sales team, you need to understand that it is not a short term fix. It is a long term process that requires a vision for where you want the sales team to be in six months, a year, or more. When designing and implementing this process there are three main priorities that you want to focus on.
1. Establishing a structured cadence which includes regularly scheduled opportunities to connect, update, and re-energize members of your team.
Your battle rhythm should include both team meetings and one on one meetings. Once established, changes to the regular routine should be the exception, not the rule. Providing a reliable and predictable schedule allows the sales reps to more effectively schedule their time. When creating this schedule, I recommend establishing a strict policy for the last week of the month allowing only "must have" meetings. That means not pulling the team in from the field to meet with a VIP. No "really important" product trainings the last week of the month. It’s up to sales leadership to protect that time for their sales teams to be used for closing business and working with prospects.
2. Fostering an environment of collaboration that encourages individuals to share ideas and experience.
The ideal culture on a sales team is one where everyone on the team is comfortable talking about current deals in the pipeline and getting feedback and suggestions from the rest of the team. This collaboration should occur in both organized and informal settings. The initial attempts at collaboration need to occur under the sales manager's guise so that the expectations for feedback can be established. As the team culture matures, this collaboration will spread to the sales floor and new members of the team will be automatically involved in this culture. For this culture to be effective, there can be no concern by team members that other team mates will poach their deals. The first time this happens, all trust will be broken and collaboration will grind to a halt.
3. Honing individual skills and expertise in positive and supportive environment.
The number one goal of a sales manager is to improve their sales team and providing relevant and effective training is a key piece of the puzzle to achieve this goal. But training doesn't have to be a huge, in depth, complicated event. You should break training down in to small pieces that can be built into your regular cadence during team events or as individual one on one engagements. These small pieces of content are more easily retained and applied by your team and can be individualized when working with a specific team member. And there is nothing that says that the sales manager has to present the training, you can utilize other departments or the members of your sales team to provide these ongoing training opportunities.
Your battle rhythm or management process can make or break your time as a sales manager. It can solve problems, help identify issues, and introduce new strategies and action plans. You and your team will spend valuable time in these events, so it is very important that these engagements between you and your team are productive. Over the next three weeks we will walk through each of these priorities in more depth and discuss specific events you can use to achieve these goals including frequency, time length and content.