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The issue with your seasoned sales force and how to fix it

For companies who want to grow revenue, seasoned salespeople cause more problems than any other factor. After all, if you have a young, energetic group, there is nowhere to go but up and everyone knows that they need to improve.

On the other hand, veteran salespeople believe that they know everything and everyone and probably could lead the sales training class. But their arrogance, defiance and inflated sense of accomplishment are not really the problem.

The real problem is that the CEOs, presidents, owners, sales vice-presidents (VPs), sales directors and sales managers to whom these veteran salespeople report most times overinflate their ego and because by default they usually end up most times with the biggest book of business, the leadership are usually afraid to put them in check.

These are the most common things I have heard about seasoned salespeople in my years of sales development consulting and training:

I do not want to upset the apple cart.

If they do not buy in, then nobody will.

They are too set in their ways – nobody can get through to them.

I will be wasting my money on them.

If we make them participate, they will quit and take their customers with them.

They will give you trouble – it will not be worth it for you.

They are complacent – I do not know what to do with them.

You will never get them to find new business.

They are holding us back – no question – but I cannot do anything about it.

They are holding me hostage – I have no options.

I am not saying that these issues do not exist. I am saying that you cannot raise expectations, grow revenue, increase profits, improve morale, and sustain it if you don’t address these issues. Most executives (who have grown their companies to a profitable, respectable level) simply don’t have the appetite to face this problem head on.

The reality is that the right sales development specialist can turn a group of veteran salespeople around on a dime. Sure, it is not without some initial griping, but it happens much more easily and quickly than if the executives tried to accomplish it on their own.

What I have found is that doing a full sales evaluation will, in most cases, get their attention (as surprising as the results may be to some veteran salespeople). Through that process, veteran salespeople develop, perhaps for the first time ever, an awareness of what their true, sales skills gaps are and how much that is costing them. They do not have to agree with everything, but they finally get the sense that they do not know it all. They may not like it, but you did not have to tell them. They may be angry, but they are angry with themselves or us this time, not you.

When sales management has been trained and coached to provide meaningful, business-generating coaching (rather than technical, pricing or sales support), they begin getting more value out of sales management.

Then the formal sales process is introduced. That is when they realise that until that very day, they had never actually been selling. Instead, they realise that what they had been doing all this time was presenting, conducting demos, acting as product experts, writing proposals, sending quotes and chasing decisions with mixed results. They also realise just how much selling has changed, not just since they started in the 60s, 70s or 80s, but even in the past five years!

Somewhere between the sales process introduction and four follow-up sessions later, the light bulb turns on and they get it, embrace it, and buy into it hook, line and sinker. Then 10 things begin to occur as they:

Enjoy selling again,

Successfully turn around prospects who were not interested,

Add more new opportunities to the pipeline than ever before,

Have more productive sales calls,

Stop wasting time on unqualified opportunities,

Shorten their sales cycle,

Improve their closing percentage,

Increase sales,

Increase margins and

Increase their income.

What about you? Do you need your veteran salespeople to step it up, but can’t get them to do so? Are they setting bad examples for the rest of your sales force? Are they holding you hostage? Is the tail wagging the dog? Are they finding every excuse in the book to not seek new business? Are they being paid too much for the existing business which they’re managing?

You’re not alone or without sympathy. But sympathy, hope and time won’t solve the problem unless you wait until they retire or die (and with your luck, they’ll outlast you!)

You’ll need to take some action now if you want change in 2021.

Duane Lue-Fung is an award-winning entrepreneur and is the founder and chhairman of the Caribbean’s #1 sales development company, Think Grow Lead. For more insights on sales and customer experience training, sales recruiting, sales consultancy, and sales outsourcing please visit TGL’s website. www.tgltrainers.com/ www.tglsalesschool.com or email me your comments at topsalesguruja@gmail.com