I thought I would write about the most common questions I get from Presidents and CEOs around the country about their sales organizations. It doesn’t matter the industry, the time of year or the economic outlook, these are pretty consistent.
Q1) Why don’t our sales people prospect more as opposed to waiting for business to come in?
a) Human nature is to take the path of least resistance. If enough business for them-and this might be a completely different number then for you and your goals-is walking in the door or calling on the phone, why should they prospect? Being reactive is a whole lot easier then being proactive so if you haven’t made those activity goals very clear then why should they?
Revenue goals are important but activity goals are a whole lot more important. Yep, you read this right, more important and there's two reasons why. When someone is consistently meeting their activity goals then you have the ability to track (that's reason number one), are they committed to what you have asked them to do? This is huge. Reason number two is you can help them on what they are actually saying and doing in front of a prospect to improve their closing ratio. Without knowing the amount of calls they are making consistently, this information is completely irrelevant.
Q2) How do I motivate my salespeople to do more?
a) First of all, do more than what?
There needs to be goals established for them as mentioned above, for revenue and activity. You may already be doing that and congratulations if you are. They still may be falling short so I have a few questions for you to ponder.
1) Are they making more money then they have previously either in this position or another? If so, they may not be motivated enough to work hard enough to reach a goal you want them to reach. We often take the goals we set for them last year (and the year before and the year before) and hike that number up 10% or 15%. That may be your goal, but if it isn’t necessarily theirs and if they don’t see a need to reach so high, you could be in some trouble. They can be motivated to reach that number, but you better have that discussion with them not for them.
2) If your salespeople don’t reach your goal (whether revenue or activity) what is the consequence? Salespeople, actually all of us, are just big kids. They need what is expected of them to be clear and laid out, they need to know the benefit of reaching and exceeding those expectations and the consequences if they don’t. Be careful not to just assume that if you tell them the goals and leave them alone they will get there. They might but if they don’t, wouldn’t you rather try to help them rather then having a revolving door of salespeople through your organization?
Q3) I can talk to a local business person about our product/service and sell it and I’m not even a salesperson? Why can’t they?
a) I don’t have enough information to answer that so I will have to make a few assumptions. As the owner (President , CEO) of an organization a conversation you have with a colleague will be different then a sales person has because you aren’t selling anything. You are more often then not, having a conversation about some other topic as well, the local state of business, the economy, politics, take your pick, but there is a much higher level of conversation happening so it doesn’t feel like a sale.
There are other factors as well. Maybe you are someone of stature or clout in the community and people look at you as an equal, a partner, maybe even someone that can help them down the road. So shouldn’t your salespeople be seen different then you?
Actually, the answer is no. Every day we teach people how to treat us. If we are acting like a salesperson, they will be treated like one. You don’t act like one. So the key here is you need to get your salespeople to act as an equal, a partner, not a person trying to "pitch" something. When they accomplish that, they will be able to sell like you do.
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" and a columnist for business journals around the country. Greta does corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs.
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