Are your salespeople mediocre?

June 12, 2017 -  By
Graphic: Jeffrey Scott

Graphic: Jeffrey Scott

Salespeople misrepresent how much time they spend with clients. According to a Wall Street Journal story, account managers spent only a third of their time with clients, while self-reporting they were spending much than that. Perhaps they were bad at tracking their own time or perhaps they were lying, but either way they were distracted. This same story says account managers spent 40 percent of their customer time with low-performing accounts.

This bad behavior is not necessarily the salesperson’s fault. Their boss, aka the sales manager, isn’t spending adequate time managing and guiding the salesperson. And when they do, they’re not making the best decisions.

Why? You can’t go to school to learn how to become a sales manager. You can’t find many books that cover this subject, and it’s difficult to find a qualified mentor on sales management.

Most entrepreneurs start as their company’s salesperson, and at some point they decide to hire an additional sales pro. Voila! They have now graduated from salesperson to sales manager. Now they must learn to recruit, hire, train, set up compensation for, manage and inspire their salespeople.

Here are a few tips, based on the six steps I call “Jeffrey’s Sales Management Mastery” concept that you can use immediately to increase your salespeople’s performance and increase your company’s sales.
1. Recruit

  • Don’t assume that someone with high technical skills and the gift of gab will make a good salesperson. It’s hard for a technician to make the jump into sales, especially high-ticket sales.
  • If the prospect interviewing for the job can’t “sell” you during the interview process, don’t assume they will figure it out as they go.
  • A good salesperson should have a track record of selling elsewhere. Look for evidence of past success!

2. Hire

  • Use a personality-profiling tool to support your decision-making. Don’t just follow your gut.
  • Ensure the person fits into your company culture. Great salespeople will ultimately fail if they don’t fit in.
  • During the interview process, look for behaviors you want in a good salesperson: an error-free resume, responsiveness, organization, confidence and great listening skills. You want collaborators, not lone wolves.
  • Ask the prospect to help you outline his or her own onboarding process. He or she should have a thoughtful plan or at least some good ideas on how to spend the first 90 days.

3. Train

  • Even the most experienced salesperson needs training. Lay out an on-boarding plan to ensure an intentional start.
  • Make sure they make internal connections as well as external ones.
  • Identify and understand your new hire’s weaknesses upfront and address them in your onboarding process.

4. Compensate

  • Use commissions/bonuses to drive the most important attributes of success: total year-end sales, profitability (net or gross profit) of the sales, cross sales goals, etc.
  • Set up a plan that engenders excitement, builds confidence and removes doubt. The more confidence your salesperson has, the better.

5. Manage

  • Even a hotshot with a laudable track record needs consistent management. Use a weekly meeting to review both activities (phone calls returned, meetings, proposals, etc.) and results (total sales, cross sales, etc.)
  • Ensure the hire understands the company’s strategy and priorities.
  • Remove obstacles that slow down your salespeople (technology, communication barriers, etc.)
  • Make sure they’re part of the larger team and doing their team-related job as well as their sales job.

6. Inspire

  • Don’t assume your salesperson is motivated by money. Identify their natural motivation—and keep them inspired.

When salespeople are not hitting their stride, review each step (see figure) to see if you missed something, if you mis-hired or if you are mismanaging them. You may reconfigure your approach or reconfigure their position within the organization to help them achieve their true sales potential.

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Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit

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