Last week I referenced that sales managers
at times need to be stern. And, equally, I referenced that sales reps need not
sugarcoat anything or try to smile through their struggles. I am working
through a scenario currently with a client and his sales rep. I’m reminded of
the Pink Floyd line: Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody in there? I am
having conversations with the sales person about their training, how they are
coming along since joining the organization, and John the rep just smiles and
says everything’s been great. I’m wondering, hello, are you listening to us?
John is struggling in sales. He is not
meeting any sort of quota for calls made, appointments set, proposals written,
or closed business. He feels like everything is on track for him to be
successful and he doesn’t need help. Mind you, John has over 15 years of sales
experience and has been with my client’s organization for over 6 months, yet he
has the performance of a kid right out of school. He’s smiling and saying
everything’s great, and his performance numbers cannot get any worse.
Unfortunately, what we are learning
through our reviews with John is that he seems to be listening to us talk, but
he is not truly hearing what we are saying. He has the ability to regurgitate
information, but doesn’t understand or grasp the meaning and concepts behind
the words. John is a classic ‘C level’ sales person, whereas he can memorize a
script, but cannot sell with substance. My client needs an ‘A level’ team
The evaluation and my conclusion for my
client is to give John strict guidelines for which he must maintain. He is in
sales and sales is a numbers game. He needs to improve his performance from
top-to-bottom and there needs to be the most stringent of guidelines in place.
If John cannot meet the goals set forth he should be let go. John is a nice
guy, don’t get me wrong, I could see myself enjoying a beer with him. But, when
it comes to sales, he is not cut out for the rigors of new business
development, rather he would be better suited for account management. So, time
will tell. Hopefully, if he’s in there somewhere, he’ll eventually nod when he
hears our message, and realize he needs to perform or leave.
No matter what type of sales you’re in,
sales is black & white, you are either performing or you’re not. It really
is that simple.