Those who sell are “very emotional people,” notes George Faerber, owner of Bee Window, in Indianapolis. “That's what allows them to be successful in sales, to create enthusiasm and excitement about your company and your product.” Yet, if you're not careful, it's easy to lose the trust behind that enthusiasm. Here's how:
Failing to respond to questions in a timely manner. Faerber says, “If you fail to give a salesperson a timely response, their head gets totally sidewise.” His solution? Call that salesperson right back — just as you would a customer — and respond to the question.
Changing the pay plan. Pat Pagano, vice president of sales and marketing for American Siding & Window Systems, in Des Moines, Iowa, says that nothing demotivates sales reps more than abruptly changing the pay plan. Pay plans, including bonus plans, must be fair and consistent.
Setting unachievable sales goals. Dave Fulbright, a sales manager at Weather Tight, in Milwaukee, Wis., says it can “turn a sales team upside down quick” if you set impossible goals.
Lacking consistency in training, procedures, and rules. Matt Windisch, also a sales manager at Weather Tight, says it's not acceptable to reps to have “one set of rules for the closer and another set for everybody else.”
Failing to explain pricing. Jake Jacobson, vice president of sales for Premier Window & Building, in Owings Mills, Md., says that salespeople lose motivation and trust when they find they're not making what they thought they would on a job. Solution: Thoroughly educate reps on how to price jobs and on what happens when jobs aren't priced the right way.
Having sales managers run leads. When the sales manager sells, “reps automatically think he's giving himself the best leads,” says industry sales consultant Phil Rea, of R2R, in Newport News, Va. His advice: Sales managers who run leads should have a different title.
Breaking news about cancels and credit rejects. When do you let your salesperson know that the $15,000 window job just cancelled? Not while they're on their way to the next appointment. Tell them at the end of the day, Pagano advises, when you're checking lead reports.
Lacking empathy. Gary Kearns, sales and marketing manager at Kearns Brothers, in Dearborn, Mich., suggests that instead of banging a low-performing salesman over the head with numbers — which will backfire — take the more discrete approach of a one-on-one conversation, which might not necessarily even center on declining sales. “It's not like they don't know how to sell,” he says.
Singling out underperformers. Avoid criticizing salespeople in front of clients, peers, or prospects. “You never want to put down a salesperson in front of another salesperson,” Jacobson says, nor should you let anyone else. Which is one reason why sales meetings at Premier Window & Building have a “no negativity” rule.