We hire salespeople who claim good past results and appear professional and competent at interview and then they fail to hit agreed targets. Why is that?
Logically it must be one of or a combination of
- We hired the wrong people
- They don’t know what to do
- They don’t know how to do it
- They are not correctly supported
- They are not correctly held accountable
How can we make sure we hire the right people? There are no formal qualifications and past experience is no real guarantee of future results. Selling is a skill, not a step by step guaranteed process. When you first go into business and you decide who is going to bring in the revenue, you are very aware how that person is an entrepreneur with you, both of you trying to figure out how to make it all work. That does not change. Imagine how rigorous you would be with taking on a co-partner right now. That’s how careful you should be hiring your next salesperson.
You would expect salespeople to know what to do. Unfortunately, a lot do not, and it is not helped by the fact that the company does not know what it wants them to do either; how much of what kind of business from what kind of client and by when? If you are unclear about what you really want, you will get whatever is easiest for your salesperson to sell.
Salespeople are, in the main, untrained. They may have gone on the odd course for a day or so over their career but they have learnt “on-the-job” by experience and shadowing other salespeople. That often leads to the “blind leading the blind”. You cannot assume they know how to do the job, however good their results appear to be.
Correctly supporting your team means Supervising, Training, Coaching and Mentoring. You might not think you should do those things for your accountant, ops team, HR etc, but you need to do them for your sales team. In fact, if you want any team to perform well, it is down to their manager to give the right support.
Accountability is scary. It looks like “micromanaging”. In fact, good salespeople will look for accountability partners as they know that distractions come along all too easily and they need the discipline of reporting behaviour activity, not just results. Managers do not like the idea sometimes because they do not want to hold their salesperson’s feet to the fire and they are not sure what behaviour they should be holding them accountable to or how best to do so.
If you want your team to perform well it us up to you to make sure you have the right people doing the right thing the right way with the right support and the right accountability process.