Selling is not for everyone and for some sales reps they reach a point where they are not effective, have become burnt out or complacent. The problem is that most everything starts with sales. No sales, no production, no jobs for others in the organization and eventually no company. So what does one do to restart the sales engine? The answer is to first go back to basics, what did under-performers do when they were highly productive, but are not any longer (let’s call this is Group I). In Group II, are those who never got up to speed, assuming they were given enough time and training. Then there are those who were and are still doing well (Group III) and finally there is Group IV where almost everyone is doing poorly. There should be different prescriptions for each of these groups.
First validate that those in Group I have the same types of clients, market, niche, management, etc., as those in the other groups. This will verify that it’s these people who are doing poorly and is not due to environmental factors (the market, economy, changes in their level of support within the company. etc.), which explains the problem, not the sales reps per se, which involves a whole different level of introspection. If you are satisfied that it’s the people in Groups I’s problem after validating your assumptions, ask these people if you have missed, such as illnesses, the change in decision makers or sales parameters at their client companies, etc. Otherwise give them notice that their performance is poor and a given date you expect a specific level of improvement. If not this may result in moving them into another position or possible termination. If all Groups are experiencing the same thing other them Group III (the exceptional sales reps,) can prosper, some other elements in the environment may be the problem.
Then there is the situation with Group II, if they have not been properly trained determine where they are weak and focus on fixing those items. After sufficient time they should be able to meet their goals assuming these are not unreasonable and it’s not environmental.
Focusing in Group III, find out what is making them successful compared with everyone else. Are they gifted, creative, well connected, or possess skills that can’t be replicated with the others? Are they thinking out of the box or swimming against whatever tide there is? Can this situation be either replicated or does the company need to find new markets, reinvent itself from what Group III has done to survive? Or perhaps has this group just been lucky so far and the erosion in sales has not yet caught up with them or perhaps your company is in serious need of change? Explore the elements of sales productivity and efficiency compared to the other groups to determine where the keys to successful are; the metrics will be easy to find, others factors are qualitative and will take a deeper dive to extract.
The metrics approach tracks calls resulting in a conversation made, be they telemarketing, sales, plus lots more.
The first is elements are productivity
· Are sales calls to prospects or long term clients? If Group III make twice the number of calls as the other groups, or these calls are with those where they have are to long term relationships will be a critical factor.
· Is there a personal reference, or insider who will vouch for you and your ability as the intangible to success.
The next series of elements are broadly known as efficiency
· If Groups III makes half the calls as the others this translate into the quality not the number of calls.
· Is their script to tap into a person’s hot buttons and are they doing their homework before making contact. A knowledge of the prospects needs and one’s ability to meet them is critical, particularly on cold calls and being able to do that quickly and effectively. Cost, quality, timeliness or other factor can also be the key to success.
· What is the conversion of JO per conversion of these calls and how does this vary based on the above factors?
· Then comes the fill ratio JO? This will vary based on support team of the organization engineers for a product
· Next, is the price and margin rate relative to your competitors and can you prove that you are worth it?
· Do you stand behind your sales, are there performance guarantees, volume discounts if needed, perks, etc.
The above can be converted to a sales profitability algorithm, standards, a time series to track trends, etc.
Improving a sales rep performance involves dissecting each element of their work and zeroing in on areas under par, also known as management by exception.