It’s natural to look for a “quick fix” and take the optimistic view that hiring a new salesperson will be THE solution to sagging sales. The truth, however, is that for most organizations, hiring a new salesperson is like putting a tourniquet on a severed limb: it might slow the bleeding, but it won’t cure the condition. In other words, while it’s true a new salesperson might help; don’t expect this new hire to be a sales cure-all. Read on to find out how to make a real and lasting difference in your sales organization:
Find the “Why(s)”
It can be beneficial to ask “why?” multiple times until you get to the true root cause of your problem. For example, if you say, “Profits are down,” ask why. The answer might be, “Because sales are down.” Many people stop there and say that more sales will fix the problem, so, by extension, it makes sense that you need another salesperson. Instead of falling into that trap, however, dig deeper. Ask yourself why sales are down. It could be that the market is contracting or a competitor has innovated a new product or service that is capturing more market share. If that’s the case, throwing more salespeople into the marketplace won’t change the fact that your solutions are no longer competitive.
Likewise, if you have one or more salespersons who no longer seem as productive as in the past, the reason could be internal. Have there been management or personnel changes that have upset the cultural balance? Have you changed a salesperson’s role, only to find they aren’t well suited to their new responsibilities? Have new policies been implemented that impact the performance of your sales staff? Have you changed sales processes in a way that requires more reporting while limiting customer-facing opportunities? Asking “why” again and again will eventually let you uncover the underlying causes for weak sales.
Fix the “Why(s)”
Hiring a great salesperson and bringing them into a dysfunctional sales environment is like buying a Ferrari but not putting gas in the tank. Regardless of how great the vehicle (your salesperson) is, without the right fuel – and a planned destination, and a GPS to get you there, and optimal road and traffic conditions, etc. – you might as well be driving a Yugo.
In other words, even if you land a great new salesperson, you are setting this poor unsuspecting individual on the road to failure if:
- you hired them for the wrong role in a sales organization structure
- they don’t fit into your existing sales culture (thus endangering your current healthy interpersonal dynamic)
- they don’t acquire the needed knowledge quickly enough through well-planned and implemented onboarding
- they aren’t incented properly to succeed via a fair, equitable and motivating compensation plan
- they don’t know where they are headed or when they’ll reach the destination due to the lack of clearly defined and understood sales goals and quotas
- they don’t know how far down the path they are because of inadequate sales processes and/or CRM reporting
- they don’t have the proper sales and marketing tools
- they aren’t coached properly via effective sales management
We’ve covered how to solve most of these problems in blog and article topics throughout this site. In particular, our 4-part White Paper series, How to Build a Highly-Efficient Sales Structure, addresses many of these issues in depth. If you recognize these problems – individually or as part of big-picture organizational deficiencies – I encourage you to take a closer look at these Sales Xceleration resources to better understand the problems and possible solutions. The good news, of course, is that for most organizations, these problems are fixable.
A good salesperson can often make a company marginally better just by coming on board. But to make a real and lasting impact on sales and on company success, a good salesperson needs to be bolstered by the right sales structure, sales processes and sales tools. What’s more, in order to succeed, the salesperson needs to be adept at selling the right solutions to the right customers at the right time in the right way and at the right price or value proposition.
Meaningful and lasting solutions to the problem of weak or declining sales do not magically happen by hiring a new salesperson. They become possible only by first asking the right questions and then answering those questions with systemic improvements. At Sales Xceleration, our licensed Advisors help businesses uncover and fix the root causes impacting sales success. We bring the perspective and professional skills necessary to take on this difficult but critical task. To learn more about how a Sales Xceleration licensed Advisor can help your organization make the right moves, contact us today at 844.874.7253.