Planning to succeed
Testing the waters with a recruit and without a strategic plan in place can be expensive. Taking on someone on, say, a 60-day contract sounds good on paper but does it work? That will depend on expectations. Even then, a business owner may be left wondering whether they are offering the contractor the proper incentives to sell. Creating sales quotas and then assuming people were going to hit them immediately is unreasonable.
Most business owners who have recruited sales representatives will emphasise the need for adequate lead times. When working with new sales representatives, most build in a three- to six-month period for them to get up to speed.
Then there is the issue of small base salary plus a large commission, or acceptable salary and small commission, or commission only. When paid commission only, it is important to set targets because salespeople are competitive and want to know what they must do to succeed. In any case, it is a challenge finding good sales people willing to work for commission only.
Good salespeople are highly skilled professionals with perseverance, money motivation, the ability to prospect for new business, and the ability to close deals.
Establish a connection
It takes a while to establish relationships, most of which require at least one if not two or three face-to-face visits. Some industries have lengthy sales cycles and many potential customers will have budgets that may have constraints in the current year. Unless someone comes with a book of business, it takes time to generate leads.
Developing a sales culture requires investment. It is one thing to sell, two is sales training with the staff, and three is to handle some inventory management.
Salespeople and account managers who are sales focused with need a supporting customer relationship management system to plug their activities into. Once a sales function is productive, a sales force is mobile and ‘on the road’; this avoids the need to have someone sitting in the office managing people who aren’t there.
Solutions to forming a sales culture
- Train an existing account manager to be more proactive and to actually make sales appointments with prospects. If this works, consider hiring a sales manager to oversee and train the team.
- To develop a sales strategy, engage a sales consultant. And if the consultant's advice is to embark on a sales initiative, then have the sales consultant train the account manager(s) in sales.