You hire new sales staff and breathe a sigh of relief. The stress of knowing you are short team members, and it's impact on revenue, has been weighing on you for weeks or even months. Now you can start counting the leads and new customers in your CRM.
The smile disappears when it looks like the new hires have run into a brick wall. Whether it takes a day, a week, or two months your new sales reps are going to get stuck. You have a choice; throw up your hands and just get some new people, or find a way to get them on track. A lot of Managers choose the first option, deciding that these must be defective sales reps and a new batch will fix everything. Employee turn-over costs aren't a specific line on a financial statement, so it can seem that it is easier to cycle through people until some stick, but in reality each position turned costs about 50% of its yearly pay.
The best financial option is to roll up your sleeves and help your new employees through the slump. The question is how. If you have been in sales you have gotten the, "Work Harder", speech from your Sales Manager. They explain how life was so much tougher when they were on the sales floor, and when they didn't sell they just doubled their hours, and stopped sleeping. Sales Manager sits back satisfied that they gave you very sage advice, and that you now know everything you need to be successful.
The first step in helping to to decide if there is enough of a plan in place to make the person successful. Many Sales Reps start selling without much of a guide. It is assumed they will learn the laws of the jungle as they go along.
As there Manager it is your job to teach them how to fish, not serve your employees dinner. Don't sit down and give them a to do list. Have a meeting and ask the Salesperson what they have been doing hour by hour during the day, and where they could have been more productive. If they seem stuck for a better option give suggestions for more productive activities.
One example could be a Salesperson that is waiting on inbound traffic. Give them options that allow them to be attentive to a sales floor, but still has the employee productive. Merchandising is a good activity. It helps the person brush up on product knowledge, because they are hands on with the product, while leaving them very available to greet incoming potential clients.
Once you help the employee with a plan of activities, move on to goals and support. Start by asking the Sales Rep what they want to accomplish, instead of giving them a sales quota. Help the person understand the amount of work, time, and sales it takes to get the things they want. A goal set by employee for their life is much more motivating, than an arbitrary number from a Manager.
Now tell the Sales Rep about the support and tools you are going to put in the mix to help them attain their goals. Build your relationship with the employee by showing them you and your company are invested in helping them have the life they want. This can be done through:
- Training - Give a list of seminars, webinars, even books that will help. This doesn't have to be courses the Company buys (though you should have some financial investment in bettering employees), it can be resources you know that work. There are a ton of free courses available. Use your insight and experience to guide the Sales Rep to right places.
- Accountability - Promise your time to review progress and update the business plan as needed. The more granular the better in the beginning. If possible give the new hire 15 minutes per day, as opposed to waiting to have a longer meeting once a month. Success is made in what we do each day.
Every time you are faced with a Sales Rep that hits a wall, fight the urge to just tell them to, "Work Harder". Take responsibility for their success by helping them to help themselves.