How do I determine where my sales people are falling down in the sales process?

Sales image by Michael GiuffridaWhile some would argue that sales is more of an art than a science, if you have a struggling sales person, you can definitely apply some science to help determine where the problem lies. As a student of the Sandler Selling System, I look at the sales cycle as if you were moving a prospect through a specific process to the end goal.  The end goal by the way is not necessarily yes.  The end goal is a decision.  Yes or no is OK, but never “maybe”.

If you have a salesperson who is not meeting their sales quotas, the easy thing for a sales manager to do is assume that they are simply not doing enough activity or trying hard enough.  It is the sales manager’s job to determine the root cause of the issue and help his team member through it.  I like to do this by examining the behavior of the sales person and their pipeline (if it exists).

For the purpose of this article, we will assume that the sales person is performing the required “activity” to meet their goals.  If they are not, that is a topic for a different article.  Here are some common pitfalls of sales people and the leading indicators of the problems:

  • They are not getting first appointments
    • If your sales people are dialing furiously but not getting asked in for appointments, it is likely that they are not creating enough compelling reasons in the first 10 seconds of the call to get asked in.  The traditional cold call uses that first bit of time to describe the salesperson and their company.  The problem is, nobody cares about you.  They care about themselves.  You need to start the call by identifying with them and a pain they may be feeling. If you can do this, you will likely get more of their time.
  • They are getting first appointments but not getting second appointments
    • Assuming you did a good enough job to get through the door, you likely will not get all of the decision makers in the room for a first appointment in today’s busy world.  As such, you need to convince whoever asked you in to allow you back in to talk more with all of the decision makers about your product or service and how it can help the organization. The best way to do this is by making the person who invited you in the “hero” of the meeting for finding this solution to their burning pain.  Give them the necessary tools to work with you and sell it to the other people involved.
  • They are getting appointments but not building pipeline
    • If you are talking to all of the right people but not building real pipeline (not simply lobbing proposals out there), you are likely not creating enough pain and quantifying it for the prospect to make them understand how important it is that they look into solving this problem.  If that is the case, you need to start again with the prospect and figure out why you are talking in the first place.  If there is no pain, there is no sale.
  • They are building pipeline but not closing sales
    • This could be for a myriad of reasons including the above reason of not having generated or quantified enough pain to justify doing something about it.  One of the most common reasons however is that sales people forget to simply ask for the sale.  It is easy to allow the prospect to drive the process at this point because you “did all of your work” and don’t want to mess it up by going in for the kill too soon, but the reality is, many prospects need the push to make movement.  Simply ask them for the sale.  If there is pain, this alone will move many prospects to becoming clients.

While not an exhaustive review of a very complex process, examining these common pitfalls could move an otherwise good salesperson out of a rut and on to the presidents club.

Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997.  He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.

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