This post isn’t for salespeople—they already are aware of everything I’m about to share. This post is written for management, support, and everyone else involved in any salesperson’s daily activities. This post is for anyone whose understanding of sales activities is limited, yet has asked, “Why aren’t they selling more?” This is for the manager who bemoans the lack of effort from their sales team but has no idea what the sales team has to face. Yep, this post is for you.
I’ve spent most of my adult working life in sales. I’ve worked for organizations that understood the challenges of their sales team and worked hard at supporting them, and I’ve worked for others who were clueless. If you want to improve sales, first you must know what interferes with your team’s ability to sell.
Lack of Training
Not product training, which is important, but sales training. A couple of years ago I rode with an out of state sales rep for a week. Although he’d been in the print industry for more than 30 years and knew the business—he was a terrible salesperson, which his numbers reflected. In 30 years, he hadn’t had one minute of sales training. And yes, I would expect a professional to seek training on their own, but team leaders should know. Asking a salesperson to sell more without the training behind it is like asking someone to design your logo that has no design training.
Desk Jockeys and Project Managers
If someone’s job description is project manager then great—have at it, but if their job description is sales, shouldn’t they be—selling? Some tasks, other than sales, are unavoidable, but how much of their time is spent—not selling? Every minute spent following up with production, acting as liaison between departments, and completing product inspections is a minute out of the field—a minute not selling. Salespeople need contacts, presentations, and calls. Selling is a numbers game—the more a salesperson prospects, the more prospects they have. The more they present, the better their presentation. The better their presentation, the more they sell. Before you ask the sales department to do more, do you know how their time is spent? Do they get the support they need?
Monday Morning Meeting Madness
Not all meetings are a waste of time, but too many meetings are a time suck. Before you ask your salespeople to sell more, stop and consider how much time they spend in meetings and how productive the meetings are? Before scheduling the next sales meeting consider this—will sales be improved more by holding a meeting or time spent in the field selling?
Lead generation is and should be part of every salesperson’s job, but if that’s all they’re doing you may be missing an opportunity. It’s basic—want more sales? Put the salesperson in front of more prospects. Marketing should support sales—not work against them. If your lead generation is solely dependent on salespeople, sales volume will be limited by the time spent developing leads.
Next time, before you present the sales numbers at a staff meeting and ask for more sales volume, take the time to learn where the pain lies. Ask your sales team what you can do to help them improve sales. If you want to increase sales, begin by discovering what stops them from selling more. It could be you. Have you asked your team where it hurts?