By Tom Fournier
It is strange how you gather a number of similar experiences and begin to sense a trend.
For me, all of sudden I have encountered situations where sale representatives either do not like to sell or are not capable of selling!
I will offer some thoughts but I would really like to receive some feedback to hear peoples’ thoughts on why this occurs.
1) Working in sales, particularly developing new business is hard. As the B2B sales environment evolves with customers less inclined to engage with face to face meetings with outside sales people, it has gotten to be very difficult! (More on this subject in this previous blog post here.)
2) There is a huge difference between being busy versus being productive. It is easy to come up with a lot of important things that need to be done before a sales representative has to make a sales call. How many are focused on being busy but they are not really out in the market engaged with customers or selling?
3) There may be a lack of visibility and accountability for what a sales representative is doing. Sales people need sales management and coaching on a regular basis. I am not talking sell or perish beat downs but rather constructive skill building, encouragement and active collaboration around pipeline and performance management.
4) There may not be clarity around the role or job description for a sales representative. If someone has a hybrid, hyphenated or dual role such as a designer/sales, service tech/sales or engineer/sales (just a few examples), the individual in the hybrid role will gravitate to the non-sales function and think that by doing their primary role sales will naturally follow through their customer interactions.
5) I am going to be provocative here, but there may be outdated compensation schemes where sales representatives continue to be rewarded for business development that they did some time ago in the past. If a current customer is placing the majority of their orders in a self-serve fashion online or if they are being supported by an inside resource (sales or customer service) who can afford to pay bonus or commission to an outside sales person who is currently doing nothing to influence those orders?
Sales is a vitally important business function. Outside sales can be a very large expense. Should not your sales group be adept at achieving sales?
What are your thoughts? Why do sales representatives like selling?