Sales plans help but leadership support matters most

All salespeople are given a plan, a quota, or some kind of “numbers” to achieve as a major part of their job requirement. More

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Sales plans help but leadership support matters most

Posted 5/5/14

All salespeople are given a plan, a quota, or some kind of “numbers” to achieve as a major part of their job requirement.

The key word is “part.” The plan or the quota is a small part of the achievement process.

How the company and leader supports the salesperson and his or her sales effort is another part – the major part.

The tools, the training, and the encouragement to achieve will determine the salesperson’s ultimate belief, effort and outcome.

Sales leaders will always make value judgments on their salespeople’s ability to produce numbers, but rarely will they step up to bat and self-evaluate their own effort to support and encourage their salespeople.

Sales leaders are quick to judge the capability of their salespeople strictly by the numbers. They get reports to keep accountability high. They get reports to check on activity. They get reports to check the numbers.

If the number each salesperson is to achieve requires cold calling as a major part of the sales function, more than 50 percent will NOT make the grade. They will become discouraged by a 95 percent or more failure (rejection) rate, be unhappy, feel pressure, most likely lie on their sales report, and ultimately quit (or be fired).

Most salespeople resent the fact that they are held accountable for certain numbers that don’t have anything to do with actually making sales. In addition, most salespeople resent the fact that their sales training is focused on the product rather than selling skills.

Sales is not numbers, it’s a rhythm. Any kind of sales requires you to get into a rhythm, and that rhythm be consistent. It’s not the song, it’s the backbeat. Backbeat provides the glue to music. Bass and drums, not lead guitar or vocals. Consistent beat, not a one-minute solo.

In order for salespeople to feel “in the groove,” and get the sales rhythm, there has to be leadership support, and there has to be leadership encouragement.

Leadership has to change the word accountability to the word responsibility. The salesperson is responsible for himself or herself, responsible for their outcomes, and responsible to their boss and their company for productivity.

Once the salesperson becomes a responsible salesperson they are automatically accountable to everyone without ever saying the word “accountable.”

But the boss and the company also have their own responsibility to support that salesperson 150 percent.

Here are the seven responsibilities sales leadership has to salespeople in order for them to make their numbers happen without ever saying the word “accountability”:

1. Impeccable company, product, and service reputation. This is foundational and fundamental to a salesperson’s belief system, and a prospective customer’s belief system. Belief fuels enthusiasm. Reputation arrives way before salespeople arrive.

2. Social media attraction. Active participation in social media is no longer an option; it’s an imperative. And active participation, including one-on-one communications with customers, creates attraction. Attraction is also known as leads.

3. On-demand, Web-based sales and personal-development training. Salespeople need information and answers in order to make sales. The right training will both help the salesperson and encourage the salesperson. If they can access sales information on their mobile device while they’re waiting in the lobby for a sales appointment, salespeople will gain a new self-confidence that will help them make the sale. (Go to www.gitomervt.com to see an example.)

4. An easy-to-implement philosophical approach to the sale. There must be an approach and a strategy to the sale that salespeople are comfortable with, and will employ during the selling process. One that takes the emotion of the selling process and converts it to a customer-buying process.

5. The ability to differentiate FROM the competition. Salespeople need a value proposition, value-based statements, and value-based questions to genuinely engage any customer or prospect. And that value must be perceived as value by the customer.

6. Genuine, real-world, hands-on leadership encouragement. Salespeople want to feel the love and the support of leadership, not the pressure. Senior-level executives, and sales leaders, must be out on sales calls as often as possible.

7. A generous comp plan. When the comp plan changes, make sure the compensation goes up. Salespeople need a monetary carrot in order to perform at their highest level.

I’ve just given you the tip of the sales-performance iceberg. Most of the iceberg is not visible if the salesperson is fighting market conditions, customers, and competition to gain a competitive and profitable edge. •


Jeffrey Gitomer is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or email to salesman@gitomer.com.

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