I had a conversation last week with a sales rep who was frustrated because his company had no real plan or guidance for how it would achieve the owner’s vision. The owner expected Herculean efforts by the rep, but eventually the rep stopped performing and left the company to escape the pressure.
In many cases, unless the owner corrects the mistakes, the cycle starts all over again when a new rep joins the team.
Many of us in small organizations understand the excitement of entering a new role only to discover that the reality was different than the idea you bought into. The sales rep I mentioned was never good enough to accomplish what the boss was hoping for, because there was no plan in place to help him succeed.
Because the rep wasn’t as successful as the boss expected, he was moved into a different role. The rep continued in a sales support role, but his demeanor changed. His excitement disappeared. He wasn’t giving as much of himself to the company because he was discouraged by all that had happened.
Eventually he left the role and moved into a much better position.
Entrepreneurs certainly have the freedom to set their own vision for their companies. It’s their responsibility to establish where the organization will go, but they must also determine how it will get there.
Imagine an owner who sets a goal to make $1 million. He wants the best sales reps to come into his organization and help him carry out that plan.
He hires a successful sales rep from another company where there is already a proven sales process and proven guidance to help him succeed. The owner expects the sales rep to execute at the new company the same way he did at the previous one, except there’s no structure in place.
If the rep didn’t take the sales job expecting to have to reinvent the wheel, he’ll likely be frustrated by the lack of any kind of process. If he’s a new seller, he may not have the resources or the experience to help build a sales process from nothing.
As a result, he’ll be frustrated and burned out quickly because he doesn’t have the necessary tools to be successful.
Without a change in the owner’s approach, every sales rep who walks into this same situation will likely end up leaving.
Mistake 1: Failing to find the best customer
If you don’t identify the best potential customer for your business, the sales rep will constantly have to switch gears in an effort to pursue different prospects. He’ll struggle to gain traction because he’ll be chasing too many possibilities.
He likely won’t have any idea what works and what doesn’t, because he’ll be spread too thin.
Have a clear definition of the customers you’ll pursue, and how you’ll connect with them. If you haven’t already determined who your ideal customers are, give your sales reps additional time to figure out which customers are worth pursuing.
Mistake 2: Failing to understand basic metrics
If you aren’t tracking certain metrics within your company, you’ll have no way to determine which efforts are working and which ones are not.
Begin by determining which KPIs you’ll use to evaluate the effectiveness of your sales reps.
- How many deals they close?
- The number of appointments they set?
- How many demonstrations they schedule?
- How many contacts they locate?
I recommend you focus on outcome-based KPIs. It’s ok to track the day-to-day activities that produce important outcomes like demonstrations scheduled or deals closed, but I wouldn’t judge your employees on those metrics.
Avoid measuring vanity numbers like the number of calls made and instead evaluate meaningful numbers like the number of appointments that resulted from those calls.
Determine what kind of realistic result your rep should be accomplishing. Should he be closing $6,000 worth of deals each month? Once you know that, you can help your reps ramp up.
Mistake 3: Failing to guide your team
Once your team has an understanding of the ideal customers and how to find them, you must give your team a clear expectation of what to say.
Prepare your team for the questions they must be prepared to answer and the objections they’ll likely hear. Develop resources like downloads or podcasts or articles that will help your sales reps educate themselves. Accumulate resources that your reps can share with your prospects.
If you don’t help your sales reps succeed, they will move on to another company. Then, you’ll find yourself in the same mess again.
Don’t make these same mistakes. Develop a plan to help your team succeed.
Check out the TSE Certified Sales Training Program for help building a successful team and an effective process.
“Mistakes Small Company Sales Leaders Make” episode resources
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