When your sales people are under performing, are you working the right side of the problem? Are you providing more technical product training when their final presentations aren’t closing business? Are you re-shuffling their territories when they can’t make enough appointments with new prospects? Are you changing their compensation packages when they aren’t hitting their goals?
On the surface, the people we hire don’t always pan out the way we expected. They seem to present themselves well; they are well spoken, easy to get along with and seem to have enough product and service experience. We hire people who we believe can sell what we are asking them to sell.
What separates those who can sell from those who will?
Non-Supportive Buying Cycle. When your salespeople make major purchases personally, do they shop on price? Do they comparison shop? Do they take time to think things over? If your expectation is to have your salespeople close in a short period of time and they are wired the wrong way, you may be expecting too much. The buyer’s stalls actually make sense to these people. A salesperson’s “buying cycle” should mesh with his/her company sales cycle. If people can overcome this issue they could win 50% more business.
Money Discomfort. Some salespeople panic under the weight of large deals. Some salespeople make the same amount of money year in and year out regardless of the economic climate, even though they may be worth many time more. Some salespeople just can’t feel comfortable getting prices and fees out on the table at all. Others make value and budget decisions for the client before the client can. Overcoming this hang-up could mean 30% more business for the individual.
Need for Approval. Some salespeople go into opportunities to make friends. They thrive off of hearing “We really like you.” They avoid asking the tough questions, they avoid rejection. Great salespeople consistently overcome the fear of rejection; they know that to be great they must stopping living for approval and take necessary risks. Many salespeople crave acceptance, so this is a most difficult hurdle. If this hurdle can be overcome it could mean 35% more business.
Self Limiting “Record Collection”. These are the negative messages that go around over and over in an individual’s head. A salesperson that hums, “I have to sell to purchasing agents” or “The economy is down” or “Pittsburgh is a conservative marketplace. There are no immediate opportunities in my own back yard” won’t make it to the top until they change their tune. They could earn 25% more business if they turned this volume down.
Emotional Involvement. If a salesperson looses their cool, they stopped listening. They get fearful and panic. Once that fear sets in even great listeners get wrapped up in hearing and need to be reminded of level-headedness. Once they start listening to the little voice in their head, that voice drowns out the client’s information. Overcoming this lack of objectivity could mean 20% more business.
Identifying these weaknesses in your existing salespeople could drastically improve your results and help you fix the right selling problems. Identifying these weaknesses will significantly reduce the cost of making bad hire. Here is a way to test sales candidates. Treat them like a cold caller. I have made to many hiring mistakes by being too friendly and open during the initial interview. Many candidates have been able to feed off of that enthusiasm, which caused me to attribute those attributes to the individual. By treating the interviewer like a salesperson cold calling to you, within 20 minutes you can see how emotionally involved they get as you uncover a number of these hidden weaknesses.