“It is hard out there on the road”. “You don’t know what it is like getting doors slammed in your face”. “She’s never in the office”. “I can’t get past the secretary”. “They aren’t interested”. “I know they aren’t interested, I don’t need to make the call”.
In 25 years of sales management, coaching and training I think I have heard almost every line in the book as to why a sale can’t be made. Salespeople call them reasons while Sales Managers call them excuses. (follow the link for a great little animation)
Let’s first clear the air. There are indeed a myriad of reasons why a prospect will not buy from you, but usually, it comes down to no relationship, therefore no trust in dealing with you or the organization you represent. This may be communicated through any of the examples above, but it is the true reason. I have said it many times, sales is a highly skilled profession. That being said, the Sales Managers have a point as well. There are many times where a sale can’t be made because of a previous bad experience with the company, good relationships built up with competitors, strong-willed gate keepers, and oh yeah, inexperienced salespeople. The question is where does the basis for the problem lie?
I have been involved with many companies where the best salesperson has been promoted into a sales management role. They have the skill sets and competencies to be a great salesperson, but lack the people management, planning and forecasting skills to make a good manager. One of two things may then happen. The first is that the manager uses his own successes as a benchmark for all other salespeople and holds them accountable for their failures without ever providing the proper tools for them to grow in confidence and success. The second is that the manager spends a great deal of time working with underachievers to bring them to a higher level of success, and ignores the other strong performing agents. It isn’t long before he reaches the 80/20 rule and is spending 80% of his or her time working with 20% of the salespeople, and instead of assisting in closing larger orders with the top performers, he is celebrating smaller successes with the lower performers. You can see the impact this may have on recognizing the true revenue potential of a sales force.
Salespeople need to be trained in the art of selling. I still learn new things every day, and I have been at it for a long time. Coaching by management often does not work, and I have been witness to that. The salesperson feels the coaching session is more of a spying session, and some perhaps know even more about selling than their manager, which makes it an awkward experience at best. Even as a sales manager, I often brought in a sales coach from outside the company to give a professional and unbiased insight into each salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses. It is an investment in the upgrading of your sales force, which in turn will identify areas for management coaching, peer-to-peer mentoring or even a new and exciting approach to getting through the door. This is only half of the equation when it comes to building the sales rapport. The salesperson’s tool box needs to be complete in order for them to be successful. I will cover that in the next blog on selecting the right tools for sales.
Have you ever had experiences like this as a salesperson?