One would think with all the sales trainers in the marketplace showing eager men and women how to cold-call, overcome objections, never take no for an answer, make sales presentations, mirror body language, trial-close, sell solutions and ask for the order, there would be an army of good sellers to choose from. Instead, our stubborn adherence to these costly, antiquated selling tactics is the root cause of the morale-draining avoidance and rejection salespeople face from buyers hourly … and therefore the root cause of the burn-out and transience within the selling profession employers struggle with daily.
It should come as no surprise that few men and women aspire to be salespeople. Too often it is the job of last resort; hence the diminished talent pool employers face when trying to fill yet another vacated sales position. We as employers do have a choice. We can cling to the old ways, or turn selling into a profession buyers welcome, respect and admire … a profession in which well educated, talented women and men strive for inclusion. Which model do you think would cause sales to increase; costs per sale to shrink and profits to soar? The steps to find, hire and keep the most talented salespeople follow:
Step 1: Replace the old selling tactics with selling principles and methods buyers welcome, respect and admire. You already know what these superior selling principles and methods are.
Step 2: Begin by asking yourself: What selling methods and principles and what results do I, as a buyer, want from salespeople who call me on the telephone, send e-mails, schedule meetings with me, or approach me in retail stores?
Step 3: Dismiss the belief that selling and convincing are synonymous. The biggest and most costly mistake employers make is hiring salespeople convinced their job is to convince.
Step 4: Remunerate your salespeople with a salary. Never a commission. Commissions breed greed, desperation and disloyalty, which only serve to push away prospective buyers. Bonuses are ok. Annual raises are fine. Encouragement and praise work every time.
Step 5: Award and reward your salespeople based on customer satisfaction. Instead of dollar quotas reached, reward based on customers kept. Satisfied customers buy more, more often. Satisfied customers remain loyal. Satisfied customers provide referrals. Satisfied customers sing our company’s praises and even become our advocates. Satisfy your customers and you will surpass your quotas. BUT …
Remember, customer satisfaction must be respected and delivered by every member of your staff. I have watched salespeople work hard to close sales for their company only to have internal management and staff be the cause of customer dissatisfaction. When hard fought for sales are lost due to poor service, customers and salespeople walk away.
Step 6: When you are ready to hire, consider investing in an external assessment service that measures thinking style, behavioral traits and occupational interests to identify those most suited to selling methods customers welcome, respect and admire. The man or woman you hire should be a creative thinker and a problem solver; a fact finder with interviewing/diagnostic skills; empathetic; possess the courage to ask thought provoking questions of you as you interview them for the job … and the patience to listen to, paraphrase and clarify the answers.
Step 7: Provide a work environment that is challenging, supportive, friendly, safe, fun, clean, profitable, growth-encouraging, work/life balanced, flexible and one that reciprocates loyalty. The longer your salespeople remain employed by you the more equity they earn with their prospects and customers.
Step 8: Hire carefully. Salespeople are not disposable. Your company loses credibility within its target market if you are constantly replacing your salespeople.
Step 9: Be patient. You may have hired the most talented, empathetic, customer-centered salesperson in your industry, but remember, our society has been socialized to be wary of, avoid, reject, dislike, fear and even hate salespeople. Generations of bad selling methods have infected the sensibilities of virtually every North American, including you. Like the Berlin Wall, the wall of negativity towards salespeople will take time to come down.
Step 10: Finally eliminate the term Sales & Marketing from your business vocabulary. It is illogical, redundant, lacks sophistication and is subtly divisive. The definition of ‘marketing’ already embraces selling activities. It need not be added. Selling is an integral function of marketing, never optional. Your salespeople are the eyes and ears of your marketing strategy. Seek their input in every marketing decision.
Follow these steps and you will not only find, hire and keep good salespeople, your salespeople and their selling acumen will be welcomed with respect and admiration. Prosperity will follow.