by Pam Lontos
Charles had been eager to start with a new company as a salesperson. He had sold before, so sales wasn’t new to him. The new company gave him no training, but he was ready to get out there and close sales. His first month was pretty good. He just made his draw. His second month was great. Everybody wanted to buy from him. The third month — well, things slowed down a bit. The fourth month wasn’t going well either, and his bills were starting to pile up. By the fifth month, Charles was gone. A lot of companies have a revolving door in their sales departments. New recruits come in, sell a bit, cool down and then leave. Company billing never has much of a chance to increase because the new people keep leaving, and the sales veterans have reached their comfort zones and aren’t rising above them. Is it fruitless for managers to try to do anything about this problem? Is there hope for a stable, growing sales department? Of course there’s hope. Here are some things you can do:
1. Tell the truth
Prepare your new salespeople with the truth about selling. It isn’t easy, there’s a lot of rejection, and it can be very cyclical. If you tell new people that the job is easy and that they will make a lot of money just to get them to hire on, then you will suffer the repercussions when the fruits of their efforts don’t live up to your idyllic description. If they know what to expect, they will be more likely to ride out the rough spots and stick with the company.
2. Be a hands-on manager
Offer as much training as you have time to give. Develop a training tape library and encourage your staff to listen to as many tapes as possible. Go out on sales calls with them and show them the ins and outs of successful selling. The time you expend will result in consistently higher billing.
3. Praise at every opportunity
The strongest human need is to be appreciated. Don’t be the type of manager whose only contact with the salespeople is when something is wrong. Look for what’s good and let your salespeople know you see it and appreciate it.
4. Make it worth their while
Low commission structures may seem to bring the company a bigger piece of the pie, but if the pie is small to begin with, they’re pretty meaningless. Not paying well is sure to drive good salespeople to other sales jobs where they will be rewarded for the work they do.
5. Encourage goal setting
People will strive for the goals they set for themselves. The trouble is that most people never get past day-to-day survival to think about what they want for the future. Help your salespeople develop their goals — both career and personal — by pointing out, in unique ways, how achieving company goals will help them achieve theirs.
6. Make work fun
Nobody wants to work in a dull job for a boss who constantly yells at, belittles or harasses others. Create a team environment that’s fun, and people will want to come to work every day. Hold contests, have company lunches and picnics, share successes and failures in sales meetings, and be united in an effort to help every team member succeed. When you develop these programs with your new salespeople, you’ll see a change in the veterans, too. They will join in the new order, and their old comfort zones will dissolve as their billing starts to improve. Everyone will win. Your salespeople will have good paying, steady jobs, and your company will enjoy the highest billing it has ever seen.
Copyright © 1998 by Pam Lontos. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Pam Lontos is president of PR/PR, a public relations firm based in Orlando, FL. She is the co-author of I See Your Name Everywhere and is a former Vice President of Sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting in charge of 8 radio and 2 TV stations. PR/PR has placed clients in USA Today, Entrepreneur, Time, CNN, Reader’s Digest, and Cosmopolitan. Clients include Brian Tracy, LeAnn Thieman (author of Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, Second Dose), and Sy Sperling (founder of Hair Club for Men). They also work with professionals who are just launching their company.
You can contact Pam at:
Pam Lontos, President
775 S. Kirkman Rd., Ste. 104
Orlando, FL 32811
Fax (407) 299-2166