We saw the ‘how not to look like an idiot” post on the Smart Brief on Sales, and if there’s one area where most business owners and/or sales managers look like idiots, it’s in the firing and hiring of sales reps and inside customer service personnel. We’re only going to deal with sales reps in this post, because it’s the more serious of the problems, in our view.
1. Don’t hang on to underperforming sales reps too long. This is by far the most serious error most owners make; they always think that Joe, just because he hasn’t been close to quota in his entire career, is going to magically perform and hit his numbers. The same is true for Susie, although in our experience over the last two years, women have been outperforming men in outside sales jobs.
2. Clearly explain what the metrics and overall goals for your reps….so many calls or leads handled, so many demos and so many closes. You can actually work this process backwards from the financial goals that the rep has.
3. If you, as the owner aren’t doing a good job at sales, or hate sales, fire yourself. In our experience, 90% of owners are their best salespeople, but they also have a company to run, and may get distracted. If this is happening, hire a salesperson, and not just the first warm body that comes through the door. We have courses to help you evaluate the success attributes that you should be looking for. Hire for what you need, not based on your gut. This process is a clear case of your gut not being smarter than your head.
4. Keep your reps on their path. Sure, there is room for deviations, but not for long. Reps do suffer burnout, and may be less motivated, especially if their wife gets a promotion, but don’t use deviations as an excuse to let them slide.
4. If you have more than three or four sales reps, consider making one of them a working sales manager. Hire the manager for good motivation and management skills, not just because he or she is the top sales person. Top sales performers seldom make the best managers, because they enjoy selling. And financially, they might suffer a pay decrease to take a management job.