What to do with a lazy salesperson?
They get paid a lot, they are revered when the business is winning new clients and blamed when it’s not. Having worked with good ones, bad ones and been one it is fair to say salespeople are sometimes thought of as lazy, lunch-time drinking, truth exaggerating, overpaid whatchamacallits.
Selling is obviously a skill. Abilities in learned skills and a high EQi make a significant difference to a salespersons success. My view is though that the main discipline needed to be an effective sales person is hard work.
If you are going to proactively build a pipeline, win business and keep developing yourself you need bucket loads of self-discipline. And to keep a full bucket brimming or to fill an empty bucket you need support.
Salespeople get the reputation for being lazy for lots of reasons but they are much more likely to be, or become lazy if they aren’t motivated or well managed.
Salespeople can easily become isolated in a business. They shroud themselves in mystery and hide behind the perceived esoteric nature of what they do.
Here is a secret that most businesses fail to recognise though - sales people are not wizards and, just like everyone else in the business, they need leadership.
Some tips for waking your salespeople up:
1 – Get them in front of the business often. Breakdown perceptions and show the rest of the business where the opportunities and challenges are in facts (see 2). This one way communication soon becomes two way and people from all departments start supporting the sales person. This discipline helps the salesperson and the business.
2 - Ask them to show you their sales strategy broken down into basic stats by month. How many new business meetings? How many networking events? How many new prospects? How many tenders? What conversion rates? This transparency will really help demystify the role and demonstrate what a tough job it really is.
3 –Review progress against these stats often. Weekly ideally but at least monthly. The monthly report isn’t enough you need to be sitting down ready to drill down into the stats.
4 – Question every piece of work in the pipeline. Most salespeople will err on the side of fantasy so if it’s in the pipeline at over 50% probability then the progress should be significant.
5 – Get lots of stakeholders involved in the recruitment process. Having met all the management team, the MD and the CEO in Paris before getting my last sales role there were a lot of people wanting me to succeed from the start.
6 - Give them time with internal departments. Salespeople should be figureheads spreading positivity. And, this doesn’t mean flouncing around with a new prospect on their arm every now and again / only talking to other departments when there is a pitch or proposal to deliver. Each department will have their own positive activity going on. Unearthing these stories and using them to bring pitches and proposals to life will benefit everyone.
7 – Test them constantly. Rolling out the same or inconsistent sales patter is not good enough. Propositions have to be tight and they have to clearly reflect the reality of your organisation. The internet is the mirror to your businesses soul. Nowadays prospects have access to a myriad of different resources to understand more than you might want them to. Sales people should have a handle on all those different windows and they should have pitches consistent with them. Role-play pitches with them and if they are rubbish – tell them!
"A salesman, like the storage battery in your car, is constantly discharging energy. Unless he is recharged at frequent intervals he soon runs dry. This is one of the greatest responsibilities of sales leadership". -R. H. Grant
With the direction of your business in their hands the more support, encouragement and transparency a sales person can have the more likely it is that they, and your business will succeed.