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Sales Breakups “It’s not you, it’s me”

by chris on January 13, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 3.43.34 PMThere are many reasons sales people fail.  They fail to prospect, they fail to overcome objections, to ask for the order, to create a sales plan, or connect with buyers.  The list is endless.

It’s easy to blame a departing rep for poor performance and make excuses for high turnover in the sales department. But is it really the rep’s fault?  If you didn’t hire properly, offer structured training, and provide a successful environment, the failure is because of you.  That’s right.  Like George Costanza in the comedy Seinfeld, be prepared to say goodbye to your rep by saying, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

What you can do to avoid the “break-up”.

Hire Properly.  Don’t employ someone just because they happen to land on your doorstep. Seek out the best candidates and make sure that person has succeeded in a similar sales environment.  Analyze their capabilities and crosscheck references. If you’d like your new hire to become productive quickly, invest in an onboarding program. Onboarding is a comprehensive approach to ramping up new hires that exceeds the traditional first day orientation. It makes new salespeople familiar with the overall goals of the company, and supports their work in an effort to achieve quick success and productivity. On boarding may be the last step in recruitment, but it is the first step in retention.

Offer Structured Training.  Provide guidance and a formal training plan, including specific training requirements and goals.  Every rep should know about the product or service they sell, but that’s just the beginning. They need to understand their sales market, as well as their target prospect. Basic selling skills like overcoming objections, new business development, price integrity and customer service should be taught. Offer training and support on a regular basis to ensure success.

Create a Motivating Compensation Package.  Base salary, commissions, and sales incentives make up the bulk of a typical salesperson’s compensation package.  A well-designed program focuses sales energy on activities that support the company’s business objectives, and in turn, reward those salespeople for their contributions. The best salaries and incentives create a positive buzz and help the rep and business succeed. Plan on paying out!  You want your rep to be a money making machine.  If your rep is making money, so are you!

Become the Coach and Define Expectations.  Managers have many demands on their time, but even top sellers need a coach. Be part of a positive coaching culture. Help your players by defining clear expectations, and explain how they will be accountable if they don’t perform. Show them how to make it happen, then monitor and assess their performance. Establish a formal coaching program, offer advice and measure progress weekly. Provide regular feedback and demonstrate an exciting vision.  Rally the team!

Get Out of the Way.  Clear away the administration that gets in the way of making sales.  Don’t slow the reps down with useless paperwork or senseless meetings.  Salespeople are judged by the amount of revenue they bring to the establishment. For this reason it in everyone’s best interest to keep the salespeople selling! Don’t allow them to waste time on activities that don’t add to the bottom line.

Sales people aren’t just money makers; they are also your client-facing representation, the people with the most daily contact with your customers. When you embrace the above structure, you’ll discover that sales attrition will decrease and profits will increase.  Create a culture of success and you’ll be left with a profitable, happy, long-term sales relationship.

Originally Published in Business People Vermont, October 2015.


What Jurassic Park Taught Me About Sales

by chris on October 24, 2014

In 1993 Jurassic Park paScreen Shot 2014-10-24 at 9.28.41 AMcked theaters and broke sales records. Most people left the movie in awe of the special effects and unique story line. I walked away with a sales lesson.

Remember the Raptors? They were the intelligent dinosaurs that were contained behind an electrified fence. They did not want to stay penned in so they would systematically test the system for weaknesses, but would never attack the same place twice.

How many times have you approached a client with the same sales strategy? Same pitch? Only to have them say no, over and over again?   Now I’m not saying that salespeople are like small viscous dinosaurs (although I have encountered a few), but rather we could learn from the strategy displayed in the film.

Think like the raptors; never attack the same place twice. Think of different angles, and solutions you haven’t offered, benefits you have not explained.

In Jurassic Park, the strategy of the raptors worked, and they escaped. The strategy of the raptors can work for you too.


Become A Sales Cowboy!

October 9, 2014

The Wild West…such an awesome period in history. Six gun shooters, lawlessness, fighting off attacks, cowboys saving the day. No formal codes were in place, but pioneers were bound by the unwritten rules of good deeds, fairness, and respect for the land. It made me wonder, is it time to become a sales cowboy? Ramon […]

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A Tribute to Sign Wavers and Sales Egos

September 22, 2014
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This morning while driving to the gym, I passed a guy dressed completely in blue, along with a blue face, and cobalt blue clown wig. He was the mascot of his company (company color blue, of course) and stood at the side of the street, waving to the oncoming traffic. I waved back, as I […]

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“Everybody” is Not a Target

April 7, 2014
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I always flinch a little if I’m in a meeting and hear that  “everyone” is the target or customer of a product or service.  Everyone? Really?  The mindset behind this belief is that “anybody” may need the product, so why eliminate any potential customers? This theory has business owners believing that segmenting your market can […]

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How to Hire Sales Reps for a Start Up

March 3, 2013

Sales people always face objections. Selling for a start up means facing objections and a tremendous amount of resistance. The customer is unfamiliar with the business and has no reason to trust you.  You have few (if any) references, no proven merchandise, reputation, or extended track record.  The product is usually more expensive and buyers […]

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Easy Steps to Tell “Your Story”

February 17, 2013

Authored by a Shy Miller Consulting, LLC Contributing Columnist! Many years ago, I was working in retail, when my store manager pointed to a sale end-cap and asked me, “What story are you telling with this display?” He went on to describe how every display should tell the customer a story, and those stories should […]

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How to Manage A Sales Pipeline

December 4, 2012

Donna Fenn, Inc. Magazine Managing sales? What is that? A frightening number of CEOs are so accustomed to handling sales on their own that even when they do get around to hiring a sale team, they neglect to put in place a process for building and tracking a sales pipeline.  A sure sign that a […]

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Social Selling

October 14, 2012

  Social selling; it’s not asking about your client’s weekend or their kids.  It’s about utilizing social media to increase sales.  Do you know how it works and should your sales reps even care? Sales has always been about doing business with people you know.  Networking and leveraging relationships through meetings, conferences, organizations, etc., has […]

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Sell Like You’re on QVC!

July 13, 2012

As a career salesperson, I love dealing with good salespeople and watching the process.  With that said, I am fascinated with QVC.  Most people tune into QVC and watch, credit card in hand, ready to jump on the phone or log onto the site to make a purchase.  I, on the other hand, love watching […]

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