Editor’s note: Today’s guest blog comes from Dr. Drew Stevens, president of the Stevens Consulting Group
When sales reps fail, everyone fails. They’re out of a job. The sales manager has invested time, energy and money — probably too much of all three — and has nothing to show for it. The department’s sales goals are at risk. The company isn’t getting revenue that it counted on. Accounts are at risk. And customers aren’t getting the solutions they need.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for these failures:
- Wrong person in the job. Organizations continue to underestimate the importance of innate talent. They view selling as a set of behaviors that can be taught. Selling is a profession that involves particular talents. Talent is innate; it cannot be taught. Much money and time is wasted trying to fix behavioral deficits when the real problem is a talent deficit.
- Training events. When sales teams do not make goal, managers throw training at the problem. Unfortunately, this training is usually an event, not a process. Behaviors are formed over time and need time to reverse. Six hours of training won’t do it. Training needs to be an ongoing process.
- Lack of accountability. Everybody believes in accountability; the devil is in the details. It’s hard work for sales managers to stay on top of it. Sales managers must hold personnel to daily, weekly and monthly targets. And they must act quickly when targets aren’t met. Failure to communicate issues in real time leads to a domino effect that can devastate year-end targets.
- Poor time management. In my research with more than 2,500 firms, I still see too many selling professionals spending too much time in the office and traveling. Sales personnel fail when they spend time on needless issues. The best use of their time is to work on customer relationships.
- Lack of community. A major responsibility for selling professionals is creating community to help build referrals. Sales managers are so focused on numbers that they don’t insist that reps network aggressively and build their networks. If networking isn’t part of the rep’s explicit goals, it falls to the bottom of the list.
- Lack of development. Great sales reps are always looking for ways to get better. Okay sales reps think they’re good enough. Most sales professionals don’t invest in self-development. They wait for the organization to provide it.
- Ineffective mentorship. The Internet has produced a vast collection of bad sales ideas. It’s up to sales managers to become mentors to selling professionals and help them sort out the good from the bad. Mentoring should be an explicit and major job responsibility for sales managers.
© 2011. Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.
With more than 28 years in sales, Drew Stevens, Ph.D., is one of those very rare sales management and business development experts with deep hands-on experience and advanced degrees in sales productivity. Drew works with sales managers and their direct reports to create more customer centric relationships that dramatically drive new revenues and new clients. He is the author of Split Second Selling and the founder and coordinator of the Sales Leadership Program at Saint Louis University. Contact him today at 877-391-6821.
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