Avoiding the summertime lull: why mentoring your team is critical to keeping production up year-round
Collin Stewart, CEO
4 July 2018
It’s a simple, but effective, equation for growing a company: good months make good quarters, and good quarters make good years.
Of course, a lot goes into those months, and quarters, to make them good. Sales teams, in particular, have to execute on a number of different fronts – relentless prospecting, effective calls, tailored demos, skilled negotiation – to help make that a reality.
But it’s the consistency illustrated in the above statement that makes it a critical lesson for any sales team. The only way to deliver consistent results is to always push – every month, every quarter, and, ultimately, every year. Sales, like it or not, is a constant practice.
Even in the summer. That’s right, even in the summer.
There’s a long-held belief that July and August are months where prospects are impossible to get on the phone, demos can’t get scheduled, and deals don’t happen. As a result, salespeople take a collective foot of the gas and wait for the busy fall season to ramp up.
But in my years as a sales leader, summer has actually proven to be the opposite: it’s the perfect time to train, coach, and mentor the team, including reinforcing why hitting quota year-round is expected.
Let’s look at quota attainment first. It is true that senior people, across a wide range of industries, take a vacation in summer. But one unanswered call, or one out-of-office reply doesn’t mean you stop prospecting to that person, or that company. Effective prospectors do not give up.
As such, there’s an important teaching opportunity here, a chance to set a clear standard. You may have to dig slightly deeper in the summer, but we’re pushing for the same goal we push for all year – 100% of quota. If you show your team that there’s no opportunity to let up, they won’t. That’s a critical piece of leadership.
Mentoring the team, of course, doesn’t begin and end with discussing the importance of hitting your numbers. We also bring in consultants for lunch and learns, watch various training videos, and hold our annual sales team meeting off-site during the summer. Those annual meetings (typically held over two days) are a good time for the team to discuss which internal processes are working, which aren’t, and propose new methods to improve productivity. Our off-site meetings are definitely working days, but the chance to get the team together somewhere other than the office is also a great way to build rapport, and strengthen the bond between the team.
On the administrative side, we’ve found the summer is also the best time to hire new reps and build new teams. For example, our busiest times of the year are from September to November, and January to March (when we’re running 20% – 30% over capacity).
So, if we bring on a new rep, or build a new outbound team in the summer, we’re able to train the new hires and ramp up to full productivity in a month or two, just in time to be locked and loaded for our prime selling season.
I hear a lot of people – clients, other sales leaders – say they don’t want to build an outbound sales team in the summer. But you factor in the training period, as well as the testing, learning, and iterating that goes into building outbound campaigns, it’s the summer that provides the best time frame to do that in, all while not cutting into peak periods.
(Editor’s note: we interviewed sales leader Zach Barney on The Predictable Revenue Podcast about how to maintain productivity throughout the year. He shared some great tips and tricks – you can read about our chat here, or listen to the podcast here).
Of course, a rested sales team has its benefits too. And although we maintain strict expectations, regardless of the season we’re in, ensuring your people take time out to rest and recharge is critical. It is very difficult to be a top performer if you don’t take a break. You have to make sure your team unwinds, hits the beach or takes a hike somewhere, far away from their emails. If your team is burnt out when peak selling season arrives, you won’t see the results you’re hoping for.
Just as taking two months off every year won’t bring you the results you need. Growing a company is hard, and it takes consistent work – relentless pushing, really – to achieve. But if you set a clear standard, and provide coaching, mentoring, and time off when needed, you’ll hit your numbers, regardless of what time of year it is.
Because good months make good quarters, and good quarters make good years.