After the economic downturn of the last few years, is it no wonder that this is the biggest challenge for sales managers? Some companies are still at half the revenue they had prior to the economy tanking. Others are doing well and still pushing for double-digit increases in revenue. Most sales teams are focused on getting additional business from existing customers by providing more value rather than cold calling new prospects.
The #2 and #3 challenges were just about tied. #2 was hiring, having the right people on board, and then keeping them. They are looking for people with the right attitude that are driven to succeed, in spite of a tough market and increasing competition. These were not ‘order takers’ but aggressive folks who were enthusiastic about their company, their products, and really believed in themselves.
#3 was the BIG SURPRISE. Engaging their staff to think and act like business owners and producers! Many managers felt that their staff displayed an attitude of entitlement. They were entitled to better leads, more benefits, getting perks without having to earn it. Longevity and loyalty today do not pay bills. People have to produce. Salespeople have to differentiate themselves from competition. They need to create ideas to generate revenue, and not always expect management to find the right solutions.
Please rank the top 3 priorities and answer why it’s important to you and the company. Here are the actual responses from the sales managers:
- “We do a robust relationship review every year with our clients. We work to increase revenue by providing more services to our good clients. We look to eliminate clients from our group to another area of our company who only have a single line of business with us.”
- “We make this top of mind with our sales people. 80% of our sales come from 20% of our customers. Our sales staff must have the courage to ask different questions of our customers to grow our business. They must have the courage to meet new people.”
- “Our sales people should spend 50% of the time prospecting.”
- “Every day they must go out and find NEW business.”
- “Finding new opportunities in the marketplace is critical so we can grow our market share.”
- “We do a lot of research of our customers and their industry. We ask a lot of in depth questions. Once we know we have a qualified prospect, with our team based selling, we have a 50% closing rate.”
- “Our #1 focus with our sales team is to find new business.”
2. Hiring the right people to take us forward
- “We must be sales driven, challenged mentality and not order takers.”
- “The company is only as good as the team. They must have pride in themselves, their company and their products. People must be ‘invested’ in their business.”
- “We must have the right mix of salespeople; those on salary and those on commission.”
- “I hire people with enthusiasm. They either have it or they don‘t.”
- “We’ve had turnover recently and are currently hiring.”
- “My #1 priority is to recruit the right people so we can work our business plan. I spend too much time with low producers trying to ‘fix them’.”
- “We have the systems in place. My goal is to find the right people that will work our system.”
3. Engaging staff to think and act like business owners and producers.
- “Our sales team needs to add value to our customers. They have to learn to differentiate us in the marketplace. When they call on our customers they must talk to them from an ‘owner’s point of view.’ They generally talk to customers from an ‘employeespoint of view.’ When they want to improve, they talk to others in our industries, rather than asking business owners.”
- “Trying to get our sales staff to come up with ideas on how to drive business to us is a challenge. They always expect management to come up with ideas. Why don’t they accept the responsibility to look for ideas?”
- “They need to have accountability to the bottom line.”
- “Our people get an account list and a territory. They have to think like a business owner to be successful. They have to do the right thing for their customers.”
- “Our project and program managers need to ask questions from an owner’s point of view, and not just ‘qualify’ the prospect.”
- “Our biggest challenge is trying to end ‘entitlement’ thinking with our staff.
- “Our sales staff thinks like employees. They need to treat this business as if it were their own company. This would dramatically increase their success.”
- “Even though our people are on straight commission, they still do not act like business people. Many do not even attend our sales meetings. Many who are doing poorly do not spend time in the office. They are hiding.”
- “We have to get ‘buy in’ from our sales team when we make changes. This would not be so challenging if they thought from an ‘owner’s point of view’.”
So how are you and your sales team doing compared to your counterparts? Better, worse, or the same? If you are looking for some help, give us a call. We’ve got 100 years of experience helping over 8 million people lead a richer, fuller life.
Jim Geffert is President and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training of SC, LLC. He has been in the Dale Carnegie business for over 38 years and had owned the franchisee for SC and Augusta since 1993. Jim can be reached at 843-884-4848 or email@example.com. For additional information: www.sc.dalecarnegie.com