This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).
From Chapter 5 – WHAT TYPICALLY HAPPENS NOW – Part 2
NOTE: This is a continuation of a section that had to be broken in half – to read the first half of this section, click here
But so what? Why does it matter? If the company makes money, who cares that it is from one out of five salespeople. The top guys probably get nice bonuses, so no one gets hurt, right?
If you have ever been at the top of a sales organization that allows under-performers to stay on, you know that gnawing feeling in your gut when you see them. They come to work in their suits and take their places at the company sales meetings, but you and everyone else know that they are a fraud. The leads that are given to them are all but wasted, and they tarnish the value of the logo that you all have on your business card. It is a bad feeling that and acts as a counterweight to the pride that those at the top of the revenue curve feel about the company, their work, and their hard-earned compensation.
This makes top performers feel badly that their contributions are not valued as much as they should be. Even if they get financial compensation for their above-average efforts, it is easy to ask what a sales position is actually worth if the known losers in the sales force are allowed to linger on, year after year.
When the stragglers are allowed to hang on, the company also loses, in many ways.
First of all, there is the aforementioned morale problem of the top performers. In our sports analogy, we looked at winning teams. In winning teams run by meritocracy, it is my experience that the top performers are sometimes pretty generous with their time and energy when it comes to giving a bit back to the team. They feel good about everyone in the locker room because those who perform play, and the rest are trying to get there or eventually give up and leave. Both are good outcomes!
In an organization where under-performers are allowed to stay, the top performers keep to themselves and resent the under-performers and the organization that lets them linger. If there is any effort from management to create systems and processes based on the entire sales organization, participation by the top performers is difficult to attain. They would just as soon go do their thing and be left alone; that is what carries the company, after all, In a sense, the outcome is OK because the company hits its numbers thanks to their efforts, but in this environment the company cannot effectively act like a team. Worse than that, it risks losing its top performers.
The second way that a company loses is in lost opportunities. Every time a poorly performing salesperson goes out to see a prospect, there is a high risk that salesperson will not make the sale to someone who might have bought. This hurts the company as a whole and the chances of top salespeople.
If a company squanders leads on weak salespeople, there are fewer for the best salespeople to go after. Worse still, if the poor salesperson left a bad taste in the mouth of the prospect about the company, the prospect is biased against the company for all future salespeople who might later try to approach that client.
Another way that the company loses is by paying a high marginal rate of compensation to the low end of the sales team. If the company could get a high percentage of sales with the top half of the sales force, it makes a lot of sense to let the bottom half go and to try to replace them with better performing salespeople. More on that later.
Does this sound typical? It might. It happens a lot. Is it happening in your organization? If so, I’m truly sorry for the frustration this must cause. But take heart ─ there is a better way. Let’s look into that now.
Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)
So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.
If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:
The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.
Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.
The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.
If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.
Here’s to your success!