Managing Salespeople

Many owners of small businesses get to a point when they want to hire salespeople. They do this for a couple of reasons. They don’t like to sell. Or they’re not good at selling. Or other parts of the business are demanding their attention and they don’t have the time to put into selling. Whatever the reasons, they feel they need to get someone to get out there a sell for them. But what I have seen far too often is that many owners have had bad experiences with managing and keeping good sales people. Most often the owner simply gives the salesperson a bunch of brochures and tells them “go get some business.” This approach usually ends in frustration and failure. Here are some things to consider when hiring and managing salespeople:

Take Responsibility – You are still the leader of the organization and you need to take responsibility for the sales process. Work with your salespeople closely. Review who they are talking to, go over the leads they are working with, understand each proposal that goes out. Be in the middle of the process.

Set Expectations – Together with your sales team set goals for the organization. Do not dictate what those goals are. You need to get your team involved with setting the goals so there is a sense of ownership on their part. You’ll be surprised at how high they will set expectations above your own.

Compensation – Based on the goals of the organization, set compensation plans so when they achieve the goals, they get paid well. It’s the best way to get the right behavior out of your people and the best way to ensure everyone is shooting in the same direction.

Pull The Plug – Be decisive if things aren’t going well. If results aren’t being achieved analyze the situation. If you feel the reason is the salesperson is not doing the job get rid of them quickly. Don’t let things linger. Move on and replace them.

Hire The Right People – In the world of sales there are usually those that are good at nurturing existing accounts and those that are good at getting new business. Know which one you want. If it is getting new business (which is most often the case) be sure they are good at cold calls and building new relationships.

Keep Marketing – In order to generate leads in your business you need to keep marketing. Your salespeople will then work with those leads and close business.  Without marketing your salespeople will surely fail.

Have a Consistent Process – Work with your team on defining the steps of the sales process— from the initial call to closing the transaction and everything in between.  Find out what works and what doesn’t and then tweak the process. Then be sure your salespeople follow each step of the process.

Conduct Frequent Sales Meetings – Once you have the process defined (from #7 above) this will be the basis for your meetings. It becomes very easy to review each prospect the salesperson is working on and what step they are on in the sales process. Discuss what needs to take place in order to get each prospect to the next step.

Most often owners simply look at results and determine things aren’t working. Results are important. But you can’t manage results. What you can manage are all the activities necessary in order to achieve the results. If you focus on many of the elements discussed above your focus will now be on the entire sales process instead of simply the results. Your business will then grow and your experience with salespeople will be a good one.