According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Yet it's all too common for sales managers to feel like they're beating their heads against the wall trying to get their sales reps to follow established processes to manage orders and track progress. It can be frustrating for both sales managers and sales reps alike.
Most of the time, the root cause of the conflict is that the very traits you sought in hiring your sales team -- relationship building, intuition, and innovation -- may be at odds with the skills required to efficiently manage administrative tasks, such as organization, follow-through, and technical skills. Many right-brained sales reps are working in a world full of left-brained processes, not properly adjusted with their inherent strengths in mind.
Before you make any assumptions about your sales team, and their inherent strengths, consider administering a test to your sales team and sales managers to assess their thinking preferences. There are numerous options available for assessing left vs. right-brain tendencies, with one of the more common being the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument.
Regardless of whether a sales rep is left-brained or right-brained, he has the ability to leverage both sides of his brain. His natural tendency, though, will always be to focus on where he's strong. So it will take a concerted effort for a shift from one side of the brain to the other. Instead of pushing the boulder uphill, consider retooling your sales processes to ease the burden on your sales team and allow them to focus on what they do best -- sell. If you have a predominantly right-brained sales team, conduct a quick assessment of your top sales processes and adapt them accordingly.
If you have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool in place, consider customizing it by removing all fields that are less than vital. Where possible, try to limit the data required for entry for a new prospect to 10 fields or less and remove all of the additional clutter.
If you have field sales reps, you'll want the order entry process to be as streamlined and efficient as possible, both to reduce order entry time -- which can equate to more sales -- and to reduce errors. While this may mean investing in technology and software, consider the savings realized when you no longer need someone on your team to follow up with the customer or rep to "clean up" and finalize each order.
Leveraging the strengths of your sales reps and providing them the tools they need to efficiently stay organized will only result in a win-win for your entire team.