As business owners we have been gradually lulled into believing the performance of our salespeople is satisfactory. After all, if our salespeople could do better, they would. Wouldn’t they?
Salespeople come and go, some stay longer than others, and some are better than others. We tend to judge current and future performance based on past results. Bottom line, I’ve never met a business owner who truly understood the sales potential of his products or services. In good years, salespeople are busy taking orders and in bad years they are complaining that no one can sell in the current market. In reality, the salespeople were doing nothing to influence the level of sales of the product in either the best sales year or the worst sales year. In both cases they were just taking orders.
There is a formula for sales growth and increased profitability. Unfortunately, business profits are held captive by mediocre salespeople and by management that naively believes the excuses offered by their sales department. You can’t really blame either side. The salespeople don’t know that they can sell more and management has never seen evidence that performance could be better. Management has been conditioned by the sales performance they see day in and day out and believe they are getting all there is to get. I’ve never met a salesperson who couldn’t double their sales within twelve months. I’ve known some salespeople who doubled their sales every year for several years in a row. Here is the three-step formula for sales growth and increased profitability.
Step #1: Desire: No person will ever change their level of performance unless they have a compelling desire to do so. They’ve “gotta wanna” do it. There must be some external situation that causes them to take an internal evaluation of their situation, which in turn causes a desire for change. We often refer to this as internal motivation. We want something different than our current situation and the purpose has enough meaning in our soul that we are willing to do whatever is necessary to bring that situation to fruition.
Step #2: Belief: You must believe you can achieve that internal desire. You must believe in your ability to do the things necessary to acquire the desired result. You must be able to objectively review your past performance, consider what others have done, and then visualize yourself reaching a new level of accomplishment. Every salesperson has experienced a best month ever. If you achieved it once, why can’t you do it again? If you achieved that level which represents your best month ever for six out of twelve months, you would probably double your sales for the year. If you don’t believe, you will never take action. Looking at what you have done in the past can help you believe what you can do in the future.
Step #3: Education: Top salespeople are educated in selling. Unfortunately there are not a lot of top salespeople. Maybe 10% of all the salespeople in the world fit into this category. Most salespeople are totally uneducated in selling and worse than being uneducated; they don’t believe it would make a difference in their performance. These average, mediocre salespeople look around at other salespeople who are just like them and see no need to do anything different. After all, they are like every other salesperson out there. Management is just as much to blame. If they believed sales education would make a difference, they would require it. If management had the slightest clue as to the profits their company could generate from trained salespeople, they would make sales training a requirement for employment! Salespeople do what they do because they have always done it that way and that is what they have seen other salespeople do. As an industry, we have perpetuated poor habits and practices. Doing the same thing over and over again makes permanent, it doesn’t make perfect. Doing the right things over and over again makes perfect. There are too few salespeople consistently doing the right things. There is no investment a company can make, that will generate a larger potential bottom-line profit than training salespeople. Let this year be the year you take action as a salesperson or as management, and get your salespeople trained.