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Do You Hold Your Sales Force Accountable?
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Sunday, 31st August 2008
 
Two of the biggest issues facing the industry today are recruitment of sales personnel and retention - Problems in this area may not be due to bad hires or low unemployment rates.

If they are related to bad hires then it means you don't fire well. You are not holding people accountable. If that's the case, it only stands to reason that you are probably overpaying a sizable portion of your sales force, as they are not performing as "A" players.
 
The first thing you must do is a gut-wrenching honest assessment of your personnel. This must be done both quantitatively and subjectively. Measurements must be in place. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Once you do have a sales system with measurement you must complete your personnel assessment.

Upgrade your sales force to minimum acceptable standards. It would be exceptionally rare to find any company that didn't have at least one salesperson that wasn't performing up to expectations. "If you pull the gun, don't be afraid to shoot." Being fearful of sales consequences by terminating a salesperson is the lifeblood of mediocrity in a sales force.
 
Question: Is your sales force prepared and held accountable?
 
Conduct an assessment; do this for each sales rep. Answer the following questions honestly and fairly. Use this scale as a guide:
 
1.     Very Little
2.     Somewhat but needs improvement
3.     Meets acceptable standards
4.     Above expectations
5.     Walks on water


Interpretation:
 
28 – 35: You have identified an "A" player.
21 – 28: May indicate a solid performer but additional training and mentoring may be advisable to help them reach their maximum potential.
0 – 21: Needs serious attention. Replacement may be the only answer.
 
"It is OK to carry your wounded but you must bury your dead." (M.Marks)
 
Once you have done an assessment and established new acceptable standards the situation you find yourself in may be due to the fact that you don't clearly recognize your employees as one of your core competencies.
 
" A warning. . .make sure you have assessed your team fairly and removed the bad apples from the barrel."
If you still are too small to adopt some of these initiatives, that's OK, as long as you make your people your highest priority, they will notice.
 
If you have a recruiter, use them. Do not allow sales management to waste time recruiting or screening new applicants. If you don't have a recruiter, assign a non-revenue producing person to screen sales applicants based on specific guidelines.

Create a probationary program that has a definite timeline and a plan for improvement that is measurable. It should be crystal clear to the employee that they either meet the criteria in the improvement plan or they are terminated. This follows your assessment rating.

Create both a formal and informal communication channel.
You must build the human resource strategy, "The People Plan," into your business plan or strategic plan. 
 
Sales management holds the key to meeting company objectives. Effective sales management must build the platform for success. Sales people are not the easiest group in the company to manage. If they were they would not be sales people. Selling is not easy. It takes a special talent, self motivation, self discipline, a passion to succeed and the ability to accept rejection. The reality of the situation is simple. The majority of sales people are not managed well.
 
A sales person must have a leader they can look up to, a leader they can respect, and a leader that can rekindle their personal passion when the tank starts to run dry.
 
So, if your sales have become stagnant check the passion level of your team. Get involved with your sales force. Analyze what you have done as a company to support sales leadership. Become a coach, a mentor and take on the responsibility for rekindling that passion even if it means creating change. But… hold your sales force accountable.
 
Check out Rick's new CD series and workbook "Unlocking the Secrets to Amazing Sales" @ http://www.ceostrategist.com/resources-store/unlocking-the-secrets-to-amazing-sales-incredible-profits.html It is a must addition for your sales training initiatives.
www.ceostrategist.com – Sign up to receive "The Howl" a fre*e monthly newsletter and get your choice of "CEO Strategist's Hiring and Interview Guide" or "The Guide to Effective Training Sessions", valuable resources for all levels of management. The Howl addresses real world industry issues. – Straight talk about today's issues.  Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com

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