Blowing up a new sales recruit isn’t hard to do, if you know how. From what I hear from my professional sales buddies, there’s a lot of it going around! Here’s the formula:
- Hire the right person and then put them in the wrong job. This will work best if your job posting bears little or no relationship to the human interaction the recruit will actually encounter on the job.
- Be careful to assign new hires to rigid sales managers who have a knack for crushing any excitement or enthusiasm that may have lingered on after the onboarding pep-talk. This tactic will firmly establish low employee engagement before it ever impacts your retention metrics.
- If, by chance, you have managed to hire people who actually get along well with each other, install a convoluted compensation scheme that will set people at odds with each other. Remember, it’s much easier for you to rule your domain if the environment is ‘everyone for him/herself’.
- If you observe sales support people who appear to be providing a ‘home base’ for the sales team, and making their lives easier, take corrective action immediately! Experience has shown that it’s highly motivating for sales people to obsess about minor details every sleepless night. Why, what would happen if the whole department were suddenly to start expecting other people to ‘cover’ for their weaker points?
- Select your performance assessment system carefully. It should address every possible detail of every position, thereby providing numerous points of information that can be used, as needed, for blaming, shaming, or defaming.
If anything above this line sounded like a good idea to you, stop reading now. You’re all set. However, if you really want to implement change for the better, and you are a sales manager (or business owner), read on.
Here are four ways to start building a sales team that really WILL team.
First, think through what you expect the successful sales person to do every day, but instead of thinking only about what they do, also think about HOW they will go about doing it. Ask someone who really enjoys the job:
- In what ways do you have to ‘team’ with the prospect to get their attention? To advance the opportunity? To get the sale closed?
- What is there about your work that makes you feel valued and respected? What does the opposite?
- If someone else could do some portion of your current ‘task list’, which tasks would you give to them, and how would the change enable (or motivate) you to focus more on winning new business?
Second, work this information into the job description. You’ll be surprised to find that it attracts people who are more likely to be successful in that job.
Third, start thinking ‘team’ instead of ‘individual’. Even a heroic individual achievement cannot equal the results of sustained team success. Every team has a range of ‘survival’ needs, and when these needs are met collectively, amazing things can happen. Instead of having eight salespeople wasting time filling out reports and pretending to be organized, consider the value of having seven people selling every moment of every day, plus one person who actually enjoys the work of keeping them all organized, and filling out well-documented reports.
And last, while sales turnover may always be higher than you would like, it doesn’t need to be as high as it is. Get some inside information on how sales managers are treating their staff. Are they saying ‘no’ too often? Do they take delight in terrorizing people the way Alec Baldwin did in “Glengarry Glen Ross?” (Note: Your best sales folks probably know that speech by heart.) If so, you will have to decide whether you want to continue down that road, or instead, to create a culture where the marching orders include positive, supportive sales teamwork, respect, and trust.