Are your Sales People ‘product flogging, brochure dropping, order taking reps’?

By Glenn Dobson

Good products sell well; but they don’t sell by themselves.

If your sales team doesn’t know how to adapt the way they sell to the way your customers want to buy, even your best products could be consigned forever to the ‘lost opportunities’ section of your business.

Too many companies overlook this fact and don’t pay much attention while hiring and managing their sales people.

They think their products are so good that anyone can sell them, but this can be a dangerous mistake.

Recently, impressed by the positive reviews received by our customised sales training courses around Australia, an organisation approached us. Their problem was that their market share was not improving.

The company had recently upgraded and repackaged all its products, and it was an accepted fact within the industry that its products now were miles ahead of others. The sales figures, nevertheless and inexplicably, registered no improvement.

The case was not unique so for two weeks around Australia our sales training specialists accompanied the sales team whenever they went on a sales call.

We soon unearthed the root cause—almost all of the sales people were ‘product flogging, brochure dropping, order taking reps’, and were only able to talk about their products features (no benefits), and weren’t able to uncover how their products would relate to the customers business goals

We then implemented a rigorous Hearts and Minds’ sales training and coaching program for them which also included sales management training and sales pipeline training and field coaching and within only a couple of months their sales results improved dramatically.

What happens when this is the issue?

It is the sales people who bring new customers and ensure repeat sales from old customers. Irrespective of how good your products are, if your sales people are not well versed in the art of ‘selling how your customers buy’, your sales results are likely to move in only one direction—down – as the market changes around you.

A below par sales team may cause you to lose your existing customers. On top of it, it may fail to guarantee a regular flow of new ones. So, in effect, your loss is twofold and the consequences can be dire.

How to solve this issue?

Sales managers play the most definite role in the hiring process, and it is with them the responsibility of hiring professional sales people, not ‘product flogging, brochure dropping, order taking reps’ must lie.

A good sales manager may not necessarily be a good recruiter, a position that demands certain skills however  these skills can be acquired.

Here are a few tips to improve the hiring skills of your sales managers:

Know the specific skills you require.

Before interviewing candidates, as a manager, you must be aware of the specific skills you need in your sales persons. Sounds simple however do you need a ‘Hunter – Cold Caller; a ‘Farmer’ or account manager: a networker/relationship builder; or someone who will service your existing customers to death?

Ask the right questions in an interview.

While not easy, a sales recruiting program can help your managers become better interviewers. As the needs of different industries are different, it is best if your managers adopt a customised program specifically developed to your industry, rather than an off the shelf course that will give them core competency and Behavioural Event Interviewing skills then they have a far between chance of recruiting the right person.

Match the training to the role

For instance, sales people in a call centre must participate in a call centre training program rather than a ‘field sales training program, as it will offer them most value. Sounds simple however doesn’t always happen

Experience doesn’t always matter.

A sales person with a proven track record might appear to be a safer bet than a novice however they can often be embedded in old ways and not flexible to adapting to how you want them to work.

If you are hiring new sales people, while they might not have the skills or experience, if you ensure that you give them proper direction, sales training and field coaching then you start to develop your team, rather than managing the remnants of someone else’s

Focus on their Pipeline

Your Sales Pipeline in the backbone of your future prosperity. So drive the number of opportunities each person has in their Pipeline then help them convert those opportunities through your field coaching

Glenn Dobson a Sales Performance Specialist with the KONA Group and if you would like to discuss how he can help you to get your sales people back on target please contact him on 1300 611 288 or