The Elephant in the Room - Setting Up New Salesperson for Failure

As you grow your business and hire a new salesperson, you are likely leaving money on the table. Are you making one or more of these mistakes and setting your team up for failure?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve met several people who were hired to work as outside sales reps. Of course, they had other fancy titles to hide their real purpose from their prey – a sort of camouflage. But make no mistake, they were hired to hunt. If they don’t produce results, they will eventually starve and leave or be driven from their employer by its leader.

“Just get out there and sell.” ~ Too Many Business Owners

In numerous cases they are new salesperson number one or two, depending on how you count the owner.

A Growing Business

The business owner figured out how to hustle and sell, or the business would not be around. In small and growing businesses, the owner operator is the key person responsible for generating leads. They are extremely close to their business and have the ability to create new solutions on the fly.

Typically the first additions to the team are inside sales people, estimators, or project managers who can take orders from existing clients. At some point, the owner realizes the business will fail to grow unless they can generate new leads and acquire new customers. They don’t have the cycles to fill that growing role.

So they hire someone to help bring in revenue.

After a month or two, the person saturates their existing network without generating much new business. They become frustrated.

They genuinely want to succeed and may have been successful in other sales roles, but they can’t seem to get things going for this company. If you hired the right people, they hate failing. Truth be told, everyone pretty much hates failing.

Sometimes you will get lucky and find a superstar who can discover a solution or bring the right experience. However, it is not a good idea to rely on luck where the survival of your business is concerned.

3 Reasons Your New Salesperson Is Failing

#1 – No Sales System

Entrepreneurs tend to have an infectious energy for their business – at least in the early years. When you combine that energy with in-depth knowledge about their industry, products, and services, it is not hard to understand that they are going to make some deals happen.

Even a broken clock – the old kind with hands – will be right twice a day. This maxim is true for sales as well. After working in sales for many years, you have likely developed both good and bad habits. You find things that work for YOU – and pieces you think work for you.

Precisely emulating the business owner will probably not work well for another sales person. It won’t be authentic, and you don’t have the same experiences.

You might be able to steal an experienced salesperson from a competitor. This approach doesn’t always work either. Plus, you are missing out on bringing new blood and connections into the picture.

Essentially, the business owner can sell but does not have a well-defined and teachable process or system.

Giving your sales team the systems, processes, tools, and training sets them up for future success. Even the people not struggling are likely to improve overall performance. The market and competitive landscape change over time so this should happen on an ongoing basis.

#2 – Not Using a CRM System

It may seem incredible with all the choices out there, but a lot of sales teams are either not using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) or are using poorly implemented CRMs.

We’ve run into several recently that are using spreadsheets. This throwback isn’t a local or even industry phenomenon. On a recent eight-week Sales Bootcamp we attended, other international attendees were seeing it with their prospects as well.

The most common excuse is that entering data takes away from selling time.

The most dangerous practice – for your business – is that the contacts the salesperson is working belong to the individual and not the business. A seller’s biggest asset is their network and their ability to maintain relationships. However, that doesn’t preclude the company also having access to the data.

If you have selected the right CRM, have implemented it correctly, and are using it regularly – your CRM should be increasing your sales success. Management reports should be a side benefit and not the main reason for implementing a CRM.

It should be working for you and making life easier.

#3 – No Leads from Marketing

In many cases marketing is just not generating many leads. In other situations, the few marketing leads generated go to inside sales, or the outside sales reps don’t earn commission from those leads.

When marketing and sales don’t work together, you have a problem. When individual salespeople don’t share information with other people on the team, you have a problem.

The key is setting it up so that people have an incentive to bring in new business without creating artificial barriers to cooperation.

Outside sales reps are responsible for lead generation. This requirement often means prospecting.

That should not mean that they can’t get leads from marketing.

In fact, the more quality leads generated from marketing likely means that your cost of acquiring customers drops. Your outsides salespeople are far more productive working with clients who already are open to buying.

Support the Buyer and New Salesperson

The buying process is seldom linear. Chances are prospects interact with numerous touch points before making a purchase decision. Building your marketing and sales process around internal needs and barriers will hurt your business. Your competitor is one click or social interaction away.

So set up the entire buying process – marketing and sales – to support the buyer. This system includes:

  • Define a buyer-centric, flexible sales process.
  • Use a CRM to increase sales success.
  • Generate more qualified leads from marketing and seamlessly pass them to sales.
  • Have marketing and sales working on common goals.

When you have better leads coming from marketing, your new salesperson and team will perform better. You will increase revenue at a lower overall cost.


This article was originally published in the Oilfield Pulse. Sunwapta Solutions is a proud Benefactor in the Oilfield Hub.

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