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Knowing your salespeople

June 7, 2004
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the next in a series of articles pertaining to the Four Step Management Process. It suggests ways in which to analyze and assist a sales force.

Once you’ve established a successful formula for running your operation, you need to sit back and think about how to keep the process rolling smoothly.
Start with your frontline. Your salespeople get the most out of their day when it is properly planned. You can help them be more efficient by having them write down who they plan to see, call or drop a note to today. Review the appointments they’ve scheduled with past owners, be-backs and other prospects. Be sure to encourage them at every opportunity.
Suppose one of your salespeople has been on the phone to a be-back three or four times. All the customer needs is a little reassurance from someone higher up that your dealership has the unit and the deal for them. Use a second function — provide assistance and make the call.
A third, and perhaps one of the most important functions you have as a sales manager is to coach and counsel your salespeople. It is important that you do this, not only to help those who aren’t producing, but also to congratulate others and encourage them to perform even better.
If you find that a particular salesperson just can’t seem to cut it, you must analyze the situation and look for the reason.

  • Is there an attitude problem? If so, you must counsel deeper. Find the root of the problem and see what you can do to help correct it.

  • Is this salesperson suffering from any family, health, alcohol or drug-related problems? If any of these are true, you should be prepared to help them get professional help.
  • Is the salesperson in need of additional training? If so, create a Needs Assessment and Training Plan to identify the specific shortcoming. This will assist you in designing a specific training program to help each sales person.
  • Perhaps the problem is you. The best way to find out may be to ask the salesperson directly. Keep it positive. Let them know you’re only interested in obtaining information that can be used to help them become a better salesperson.

Improving Mental Attitudes
There’s only one sure-fire way to change a salesperson’s attitude from negative to positive. That’s for them to sell something. Something almost magical occurs to salespeople immediately after they close a deal. They surge with confidence and their outlook on everything brightens measurably.
When your salespeople get into slumps, it’s your job to pull them out and get them back on track. Do whatever it takes to help them sell something — anything. Coach them. Give them counsel. Give them encouragement. Reassure them that you still have confidence in them.
Analyzing Poor Attitudes
Occasionally you’ll come across a salesperson who just can’t seem to kick a bad attitude. When this happens, you must find out why.

  • Is it possible that you, as a sales manager, are doing or not doing something that is contributing to this salesperson’s demeanor?

  • Does the salesperson have any financial problems that may be affecting their work?
  • What about serious personal problems?

As a sales manager, it is your responsibility to discover the cause of the problem and do what you can to correct it. For a simple problem, you may be able to develop a solution right away. However, if it’s a more serious problem, it’s a good idea for you to have some sources ready to suggest to the Salesperson. These might include a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage counselor or other professional.
Always assure your salespeople that the assistance they get will be kept in the strictest confidence. Let them know that while you want to help, you also respect their privacy.
Conducting A Counseling Session
Always begin on a positive note. An easy way to do this is to recognize the salesperson’s past accomplishments. Next, state the current problem as it relates to their performance. Ask the employee if they can come up with a reason for the poor performance and if they can suggest ways to improve it. Together, develop a written objective and action plan. psb

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