Sales managers typically spend too much time with under-producing team members instead of meeting the needs of high-performers.
By Tony Cole, Co-Author, “Resurrecting Anthony: A True Story of Courage and Destination”
There are undoubtedly some common traits among your best-performing salespeople that you would like to identify. And if you are like most executives or managers in charge of sales, you’d like to duplicate the results, skills, and traits these individuals demonstrate throughout your organization. Or at the very least, you would like to make sure the new people you bring in demonstrate these and other characteristics you have identified.
Over the years, in working with extraordinary salespeople, this is what I’ve discovered. They:
Set extraordinary goals and standards of performance for themselves and those around them.
Have tenacious and consistent prospecting behaviors.
Are unequaled when it comes to qualifying prospects from a suspect list or tire kicker.
Are deadly closers. They are not aggressive. They just close business consistently and in a timely fashion.
Love doing deals and usually avoid the details.
On the other hand, those who bring up the rear of the bell curve of a sales organization have the following characteristics or traits. They:
Whine and have weak personal goals and low standards of performance.
Have the inability or lack desire to consistently and persistently prospect.
Make excuses for lack of sales results but take the credit for any success.
Draw out the sales cycle or don’t close.
Consequently, you are spending too much time with (or trying to figure out what to do with) these under-producers. So what do you do?
With those who are performing, make sure you stay close to them. What I mean by that is to make sure you spend quality time with them and don’t focus on quantity. Make sure you know what is important to them. Make sure you know what they need and make all efforts to supply their needs so they can succeed. Lead them and help them manage themselves and their practice. Reward them for great effort and great results. Make sure they get recognition both financially and publicly.
With those who are the bottom fifth of your organization, analyze why they are there. Is it effort or skill? If you determine it is lack of effort, it is probably because they lack bodacious goals. They stopped dreaming the big dream and the fire in their belly has gone out. So you need to have that discussion with them and take one of two directions: “Get fired up or get fired.”
If it is a skill problem, it should only be a problem with your new hires. Anyone who has been in your business for a while should not have a skill problem. If they do, implement training and coaching to fix the problem, debrief sales calls regularly, and monitor progress.
If one of your new hires has a skill problem, put them in a sales—not technical—training program for six months with strict sales behavior goals to meet or exceed. If they miss any benchmark or milestone, training, or behavior, during the six-month period, they get a strike. And as they say in baseball: “Three strikes, and you’re out!”
Tony Cole is the co-author of “Resurrecting Anthony: A True Story of Courage and Destination” (Alexandra Publishing, January 2011). Entrepreneurs Tony and Linda Cole started and run a successful sales training business. They were on track to have a banner year when their son, Anthony, was struck down with a heart attack at age 12. “Resurrecting Anthony” tells the parallel story of how the Coles dealt with the crisis and kept their business, Anthony Cole Training Group, moving forward throughout the tragedy, growing it to where it is today. For more information, visit www.resurrectinganthony.com.