Standards – What are they? Why are they important to sales teams, sales managers and leaders? Why are they important to a society, family or person? 

Standards are accepted guidelines, norms, and levels of quality defined as necessary and part of a person’s or culture’s behaviors and performanceThese guidelines, or norms, may exist for individuals, sales teams, sporting teams, families and countries. They help tell us what’s good and bad in our behavior, appearance and achievement. They also tell us what’s poor, acceptable (minimum standards,) and above average. 

We make standards in society for:

  • Drinking water – Interesting fact: We drink more bottled water than carbonated drinks now, and tap water is just as healthy and more regulated than bottled water. There are actually lower standards and less regulation for bottled water.
  • Texting while driving
  • Food quality
  • Dress on the job
  • Safety
  • Environmental protection
  • Game and wildlife
  • Interstate speeds (different than Europe)
  • School entrance or final exams

You make standards for yourself to remember what’s right and helpful for you:

  • Savings per month
  • Miles ran or walked per week
  • No sugar or white flour in your food

We have standards in sales:

  • One appointment set per day
  • Following up the day after a sale
  • Asking for referrals

Why Are Standards Important?

Let me answer that with a series of questions while you stop and write down your answers:

  • What happens if we remove dress standards from society?
  • What happens if we remove drinking water standards?
  • What if we stop caring about standards for minimum levels of appointments set and income performance on a sales team?
  • What if we have no standards for expense control or credit card expenditures?
  • What if we lower our standards for the amount of food we eat or the exercise we receive?
  • What if we remove the police from a community and let the people there do what seems right for them?

Setting Standards for Your Team

Great coaches, and teams of people, put their very best into what they do. Standards, performance norms, or accepted levels of behaviors emerge out of their fight for greatness. The emerging standards produced from great thought and toil, sometimes over a long period of time, define acceptable and normal behaviors and the limits of minimal and great performance.  

For sales teams, these standards include:

A sales rep’s income: 

  • Minimum (No one makes less than this)
  • Average (Our average rep makes this)
  • Best (Our best reps make this)

Customer experience: 

  • Our survey scores are always at: ________
  • We never miss calling a customer after the sale or whatever the standard customer behaviors are after a sale
  • Store appearance, dress codes, inventory, and cash
  • Sales opportunity (appointment) levels
    • Minimum (It’s rare to have a ‘0’ opportunity day)
    • Average (Our average rep finds at least 3 opportunities/day)
    • Best (Our best reps have 4 or more opportunities per day)
  • Income or profit per sale
  • Daily/monthly sales results by store.
    • Minimum 
    • Average
    • Best

What Are Your Standards (personal & sales team)?

Traditions, Legacies, and Anarchy

Individuals and teams must begin to measure themselves against the standards they believe in. When they reach and maintain standards, they create traditions worth fighting to keep. Traditions then become existing standards that people believe they must repeat.

Legacies are simply the impact of our traditions on today’s world. They are left behind by people who struggled to achieve goals; and, in doing so, they established helpful standards for themselves and for those who join the team in the future.

When standards do not exist, people make up their own rules. This creates these dangerous conditions for a company’s brand, customer satisfaction, sales and profits: 

  • People are hurt without acceptable norms of behavior and performance. 
  • Discipline decreases. 
  • Training loses its effectiveness. 
  • Leadership allows traditions to consist of low levels of effort and performance. 
  • Dishonest business practices occur.
  • Teams and individuals fail. 
  • A company’s market share and image decline. 
  • Companies go out of business. 
  • People lose their assets and their lives.

Sometimes people lower their standards without a fight. They build new traditions that leave a negative legacy for those who follow.  Leaders set the standards for future traditions before the future fight makes them a reality. They decide NOW what they will stand for in the days to come.

Please answer the following questions. The answers will affect what you talk about when recruiting and coaching sales reps.  They will also affect their understanding of what’s expected from anyone on your team.

  • What is the minimum income, or sales level, a rep must make to remain on your team?
  • What’s your standard for average income and sales per person on your team each month and year?
  • What’s your standard for top income and sales per person on your team each month and year?

The answers to these three questions will frame in the expected level of performance for your sales culture.

Coaching Tips That Will Help Your Leadership

  1. Set minimum standards. Recruit people who have to earn more or compete at levels greater than your minimum standards.
  2. Standards are not goals. They are standards, or norms, you fight to establish. If someone asks you, “What do your best reps average,” what would you say? 
  3. If you finish this statement, what would you say? “No one on our team makes less than ________.” This is only a standard if you say this with pride and a recollection of the effort it took to attain it.
  4. Standards of behaviors, activity levels and results are installed in many areas. People learn them in training and by observing role models in the organization. They are part of the disciplining fabric of the culture, and they help benchmark what is poor, good and great.

Some credit Alexander Hamilton with saying, “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.” My father Gene Cooper, World War II veteran, always told myself and my two brothers, “Cover the ground you stand on.”

So decide what your sales team stands for. What are your standards? When making these decisions, maybe it’s a good time to reflect on what you stand for in your family and in your life.

It could make all the difference.


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