As ever when we come to the end of one topic and I address questions that people have sent through…
In your series you say that salespeople shouldn’t be evaluated purely on income generated, what would your alternative model be?
I would look at the process as a whole. Let’s say your sales team each has to target 100 people. The first step in the process would normally be to determine if that prospect uses your service/product and if you can get a contact name. This first stage of disqualification is largely out of their hands, so you’d evaluate how long it took them to get through the list and also judge the success rates of one industry against another etc. The next step is what I’d call ‘conditions’ so once they’ve sent over your material the sales person needs to follow up, make sure the materials go through and here they are still trying to disqualify more than sell. They have been told that the company uses you product/services so now it’s a case of finding out how often/what cost/from whom etc. With this information to hand, they are now armed with the knowledge they need to actually go and make a sale. There may be in-between steps such as paperwork or meetings etc, but largely here the job of selling takes place, and in theory it’s your salesperson’s decision whether or not to chase after this prospect.
So rather than just saying “Emily got 23 sales, worth £46k” You are saying Emily contacted 100 people, 60 of them weren’t potential customers, following up with the remaining 40 Emily decided that 30 could be qualified as prospects, and 23 converted into sales. On average Emily generated £2k per prospect in sales with a lead time of 3 months and gave each prospect 2 hours of time. This is a much fuller comparison of your different sales people, and although you never want to go crazy with metrics, it’s important to look at the complete picture.
I’ve inherited a sale steam but am having trouble changing their old bad habits, what should I do?
“This is the way we’ve always done it” is one of the most frustrating phrases I hear from businesses. The tempting thing to do would be bring down the hammer hard, and although I’ve seen this be effective it is a tough line to walk. Nobody wants to have to step into a new role and instantly play the villain and if your team complains to the MD, he may well choose his tried and trusted salesforce over you. You can only move as fast as the slowest person and my advice would be to take the time and explain properly the impact that bad practice might have.
As a small business I can’t afford to pay my sales team as much and am having a hard time retaining good reps, what can I do?
There are lots of perks you can offer for free, flexible working, duvet days, you’d be surprised what wonders the occasional bottle of wine can do. I think the issue with small businesses generally is tend to be a lack of competitive advantage which makes a sales person’s life all the harder. It can be disheartening for a good sales person if they know that they can go to a bigger companies and have more resources and security. I would also think that sales people generally tend to be ambitious people and might be looking for greater career progression too. Be sure to have a clear roadmap with your sales people to show them that staying with you is not a dead end.