Gain a Competitive Edge With Stronger Sales Leadership - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Gain a Competitive Edge With Stronger Sales Leadership

This information came from a session during the 2022 ELEVATE conference and expo. Don’t miss the 2023 ELEVATE in Dallas on Sept. 10-13.

Sales cannot be managed but leading sales activities and leading metrics can be. When you put effort into building an outstanding sales organization, you can create a sustainable competitive advantage and maintain your growth trajectory.

Duane Cashin, owner of Cashin Sales, says the first step is to establish expectations with your sales team. This includes clear sales activities and sales goals. These should be reviewed with each sales rep individually.

Goals need to make the sales rep stretch but should still be achievable. Also, each set of goals needs to be tailored to that rep’s experience and readiness to perform. You are setting someone up for failure if they’re not ready to take on the same goals as someone who has 20 years of experience.

The second step is to observe and track sales activity. For instance, monitor the number of calls taken, outbound calls made, the length of calls and idle time. Software can also help with this tracking and shows the number of sales made and closing ratios. Other data to watch are the estimates created and sales per hour. Follow up on unsold estimates and conduct drip marketing for accounts with rejected estimates.

Once you have a system to observe and track sales activity, develop an easy-to-read executive sales dashboard report. Cashin says you need to let these metrics speak to you. What story is your data telling you?

Cashin says often sales managers can fall into the trap of simply inspecting these numbers. If a rep is reaching their goals, the manager is happy, and if the rep is not at their goals, the manager tells them to try harder. Yet they are failing to tell the rep what the numbers mean and what activities need to change.

For instance, if a rep has strong first appointment numbers, but their closing ratio is low, they might be failing to meet with the decision-makers who can close the sale. Or they could be failing to establish the level of trust a decision-maker needs to sign the contract. Both of these cases call for coaching to reduce these types of issues.

The next step is implementing accountability via one-on-ones to review performance. Cashin says this should not be used to micromanage. Rather these meetings should serve as a time to discuss the individual’s goals, where they can improve and how they can take their performance to the next level. Celebrate their wins and have them set new goals for the upcoming week.  

Cashin says with top-performing sales teams, sales managers spend half of their time coaching reps up to their next level of performance. He says while your performance plan will help many continue to grow, there will be some reps who will not meet your standards and have to be let go. Cashin advises removing your “C” and “D” players on your sales team annually.

While sports teams release players who didn’t meet their standards, they also bring on new talent that can increase their performance. This is why you should always be recruiting.

Write job ads that show how a sales rep would personally benefit from joining your team and appeal to their emotions and desires. You want a candidate to read your job listing and think, “They’re describing me and what I want. I need to look into this.”

Cashin says other recruiting efforts could include having a referral program or an open house at your company where candidates can get a feel for your operations. Once you add new sales reps, make sure they are aware of the performance expectations, the metrics and the one-on-one process. He also suggests providing them with a mentor so they can get off to a good start.

For more content like this, register for next year’s 
ELEVATE in Dallas, Texas, on Sept. 10-13.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.