Salespeople are the center of your business. Not much can happen without them. Too often, especially during tough market conditions, business owners fail to see the value of their sales force. I know from personal experience owning my own business, you may have the phone and the internet but unless you have my passion behind those things, selling my goods, the sale just doesn’t come through to the prospect. Your sales force drives your passion and the direction of your company. Company leadership must realize how the sales force impacts their business in a positive way and make sure to nurture that sales force.
As I work with salespeople and business owners around the country, I hear the same messages. The owners are saying “I’m paying my salespeople too much.” And the salespeople are saying “I am not getting any support, respect, or resources to help me succeed.”
Most business owners have never tried to sell and if they have, they know that, Sales is hard work especially for someone who is not a “hunter”. Hunters thrive on pursuing new business, talking to absolutely anyone, knowing their product in detail and using their sales skills to acquaint and capture the sale. They also have an innate sense of telling the difference between good prey and better prey and what all the competition is doing around them. And Yes, Hunters enjoy the close, reap in the rewards and want to get acknowledged for it.
Now how many people do you know enjoy doing the traits listed above for a living, especially when their pay is commissioned and hard to count on each month? That’s why you should pay them well and always provide them with support, respect, training and praise when the job is done well. Great Sales People deserve this. And by the way, if you have less than great Sales People working for you who don’t have these skills, you might want to reevaluate your hiring skills, hiring Managers and recast your sales team.
Here are five things all business owners should make sure they have in place for their Sales People.
1. Compensation: Establish a reasonable, fair, attainable, dependable pay structure with a small base salary and commissions. The commissions should be significant enough that your great salespeople can earn a great living when they work hard to achieve their goals. If you are in an industry that has peaks and valleys it makes sense to have a higher base at times to retain great salespeople during the valleys.
2. Reward Systems: Create a fair, achievable system for gauging quotas and benchmarks. This system should be clear and easy to follow. The consequences for below average and great performance should be spelled out. The end result should be a program that your salespeople can easily follow so they can monitor their own performance and are aware of the consequences of their actions. Measurability, acknowledgement and reward are keys to the success of any sales program.
3. Training: Owners should constantly be looking for opportunity to train and hone the skills of the sales force. It’s not only a cost of doing business but is the best expense you could be spending your dollars towards. If they make one extra sale from what they learn, it’s worth it! Many Sales People do better learning in short session’s verses lengthy seminars. Just be consistent with the training, keep it on point, short, valuable, challenging and interesting.
4. Respect: Sales People should always be treated with respect and with the highest regard. They are the MVP’s of the company! Owners should make sure that office staff, support staff and all Managers treat the Sales People with the utmost respect and support, because their jobs depends on it. Especially if the Sales People are in the field and separate from headquarters.
5. Mentors and Leadership: Many Sales People feel like they are on an island at times, sales can be lonely. Having mentors who are Managers that will come into the trenches with them from time to time to provide support is very important. Also having strong, reliable Owners/Corporate Leadership who honor their word and value their importance in the firm, is key for Sales People to be successful and thrive. Sales people want to be able to do what they do; but also pick up the phone when needed for support, mentoring and leadership. With great Sales People it won’t be very often but no one will work harder for you when you provide them with this support.
Business Owners and Corporations owe it to the Company and the Sales People to make sure they have a sales program and honor the Sales People by working it effectively. They should have no doubt that when they have a solid team of happy Sales People with a program in place that is reasonable, achievable, effective and that everyone has opted into, the business will grow at a great pace and everyone will feel that they are winning by working for a successful growing company.