The Australian Small Business Blog

Thursday, May 06, 2010

How Average are Your Salespeople?

On average, most salespeople are average. How surprising is that?

I often hear business owners complaining that their sales staff aren’t paying their way. They can’t produce the same the results as the owner. On one level this is not surprising, as the owner has the greatest incentive, with the profits going to them.

Of course, you can increase the incentive or commission for a salesperson to increase their motivation, but the truly best sales people don’t work for other people. They start their own business – so businesses just get stuck with the average ones. So what is the answer?

The immediate answer that most people suggest is sales training. This is, of course a good idea, but not before you have sorted out the sales strategy.

An essential step in your sales strategy is to have a sales pipeline. That is the step by step process for a sale such as the simple example below:

Analysis of your sales pipeline can easily double and triple your conversion rate. Where does your sales pipeline leak? Are you dragging the wrong kind of leads through the pipeline just to stay busy? How are you preparing your leads for the next stage in the sales process?

The owner who achieves great conversion rates but despairs over his sales staff performance, probably has a good sales pipeline, but has not documented it. More likely though, is that their pipeline has not been optimised and there is a plenty of opportunity to improve on their own performance as well.

You don’t have to be the world’s greatest sales person to achieve great sales results. You don’t need to be able to sell ice to Eskimos. I would prefer to sell Eskimos something they really want, like central heating, and then sell them an ice maker so they don’t have to go outside to get ice for their drinks!

This is Selling Smarter – Not Harder

It is difficult to recruit sales superstars – someone who can sell ice to Eskimos. It is far easier create a highly tuned sales pipeline that will turn your average ones into sales superstars.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.

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1 comment :

SMU Cox MBA said...

I think, at least in the US, that sales as profession is not what it used to be. A sales person used to know their product line and be able to offer knowledgeable advice about which product would be best for the customer. They also used to take the time to get to know the customer and fish out of the customer what it was that they really wanted, not just what they were asking for.

Now it's all about the upsell, spiff points, and god knows what other promotions. It's not about having a relationship with the customer so that the next time they need something, they come back to 1) the business and 2) you personally.

I used to be a sales engineer for a couple of VAR's. I've actually told a customer point blank, "No, I am not going to sell you the SuperWidget 2000. I know it looks cool but it doesn't do what you need it to and you're not going to be happy with it." My customer got angry and bought the SuperWidget 2000 from someone else. My boss wasn't very happy. "If he wants a SuperWidget 2000, then sell him one."

He returned it two weeks later and called up to ask "What was that thing you were recommending?" I ended up selling him a much higer end piece of equipment but it performed flawlessly and that was the last time my boss gave me a hard time about not selling something to a customer.

And I ended up with very loyal customer who tracked me down every time I changed jobs. Even when I got out of sales and went back to purely IT work, he still continued to call me to make purchases and for advice on product selection.


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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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