BY IAIN SWANSTON
Sales People Struggle
It’s the price, it’s a bad territory, the product isn’t right, our service is poor, I need more support, our website is no good and I never get any leads. The reasons Sales People Struggle can be caused by many different things however the real reasons may not be as obvious to either the Business or the sales Person. Why does someone who interviewed so well, then seem to perform so averagely or worse? The Sales People all presumably interviewed well or they wouldn’t have received an offer for the position they are now in. After years of talking to Sales People, Managers and Business Owners we’ve created a list Top Ten Reasons that salespeople struggle as set out below.
1) Values – when the salespersons, personal Values are not congruent with the values of the Organization the relationship will rarely either last, or be productive for either party. For example, I myself struggled in an organization where it was accepted practice to lie to customers. This went against my own personal values and although lying was not the sole reason, it brought to my attention the conflict in values.
2) Vision – The sales person is not “bought” into the Leaderships vision of where they are going. Whether in the first 3 months of employment or after 10 years in position, Sales People and the company leadership need to have a Shared Vision.
3) Sales Methodology – the way, the process, the methods or approach a Sales Person uses to sell are held dear to their hearts like a religion. Ask a salesperson to change the way they approach a sale and it is like asking a duck to bark.
4) Mindset – do your salespeople have the mentality of winners? Do your salespeople truly believe your product or service is of great value to the customer? If they don’t believe they won’t be passionate, they won’t care if they make the sale, and they will have to lie to customers. Despite what you may believe the majority of salespeople do not want to lie.
5) Coaching – the new ABC is not always be closing but Always Be Coaching. Rather than having a myopic obsession with sales numbers and KPI’s, Sales Managers should be focused on Sales Enablement. Quite simply great Coaching enables Sales People to sell more.
6) Activity – activity drives results, of that there is no doubt, however, it needs to be the correct activity. In sales more than any other job it is really easy to keep ourselves busy, but being busy is not the same as being effective. All sales activity needs to be tracked and measured as a minimum on a weekly basis.
7) Goal Setting – there is no Sales Guru or Sales Expert that I am aware that does not advocate Goal Setting. Goals are the “Why” behind what motivates a salesperson; the “Why” is what gets them out of bed in the morning. If you have tried Goal Setting and it didn’t work then find out where you are going wrong and try again because it absolutely does work.
8) Ego – I was once asked to talk to a salesperson called Steven who after three months in role was struggling. He was one of only two salespeople in a Startup and the other salesperson was making new sales records every week. My advice was very simple – go and spend some time with the other sales person and learn what he is doing and copy it. A month later the business owner dropped me a note to ask me for help recruiting a replacement. Steven’s ego prevented him from speaking to his successful colleague, to learn what worked. Most probably because he felt in some way a failure, stupid or inferior. Ego has no place in sales.
9) Procrastination – some salespeople struggle because they are waiting on the perfect conditions before they make their sales approach. These people hide under a cloak of research and preparation, and whilst I am a huge advocate of all of these, at some stage salespeople need to “just do it”.
10) Accountability – must be used to help salespeople do the things they need to do, the things they know themselves they should do, but struggle to do because “stuff” gets in the way.
Why sales people struggle is more often than not a combination of a number of things from the list above rather than just one thing alone. There are of course many other different issues that may contribute to why a salesperson is struggling, however, some or all of the ten above will most definitely limit the results of any salesperson if they are not addressed. Some salespeople will address some or all of the issues above completely on their own, others, however, will need help with these. It is worth remembering that the time and money spent by Leadership addressing these challenges is usually much less than the time or money spent recruiting a new salesperson. Furthermore, unless you address these challenges, companies are highly likely to end up with the same problems with the next salesperson.