Friday, September 11, 2009

The Reality of the Marginal Salesperson

Vice Presidents of Sales and/or Sales manager’s success rests on salespeople’s success, so let’s take a closer look at today’s typical sales force.

Many organizations equip salespeople with basic sales aids, and CRM software supported by marketing and/or advertising campaigns.

More often than not, we discover that a company's typical sales education includes these vague concepts:

• Know our product(s) well
• Work hard, make lots of calls to earn incentives
• Get the order, but use a “consultative” approach
• Open new accounts

Marginal salespeople say: “You get me in front of a good customer and I’ll make the sale every time.” In reality, they consistently miss their organization’s sales targets. Their response is, “These targets are unrealistic” or “these sales leads are no good.”

Based on our five levels of sales competency model, sixty to eighty percent of the salespeople we’ve observed are at the marginal level of competence.

[Request our short profile to determine the level of your organization’s competencies]

Most of the time, when marginal salespeople speak with a qualified buyer; they do not make a sale. To them, it’s a matter of luck or persistence. Within minutes, they are in a price conversation.

Each time they book $50,000 worth of business, you’ve invisibly lost at least another $50,000 in obtainable sales. This analysis comes from projects where we coach salespeople from the ranks of order-takers to becoming excellent product-peddlers, then becoming collaborative problem-solvers. Typically, they increase their sales by twenty to two hundred percent.

The remaining twenty to forty percent of medium to high producers produce the bulk of a company’s sales volume.

Their reasons for leaving business on the table include:

• New accounts are scarce and hard to develop
(They contend they are too busy with established accounts)
• They are secure and satisfied with their current sales record
• They don’t recognize the need for developing their sales competency
(They believe the problem is their company or the market)
• New ideas and selling methods are too much work and are not worth the effort

Medium producers tell us: “Give me a qualified buyer or a big, juicy problem to solve, and I’ll close the sale – every time. What we need around here is lower, more competitive pricing, better advertising, more qualified leads, and a better web site.”

The cost to their organizations is as high as twice their current sales volumes. Typically, they increase their performance between fifty to one hundred percent by moving from a friendly visitor, problem-solver, or technical advisor relationship with customers to one of genuine collaboration and, ultimately, becoming a sustaining resource. This peer-to-peer relationship to high level prospects makes it almost impossible for competitors to penetrate their accounts, even with slick marketing.

If talking to a salesperson has no value other than repeating product information and/or generic “solutions” or they simply re-hash general features and benefits, they bring no value to prospective clients.

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