Why Your Salespeople May Not be Up to Par


Many of us who work in managing, motivating and leading salespeople have stumbled with our employees. Results can be inconsistent and it feels, at times, like we’re speaking to a wall.

As millennials flood the labor market, they impact how we collaborate, how we relate and how we expect to do our jobs.

What may not have changed, yet, is how you do your job.

After numerous years leading a salesforce and helping others to do the same, I find several key factors, easily pinpointed, that can help you determine why your salespeople aren’t up to par.

  1. Are they the right person for the job?
  2. Do they truly understand their job?
  3. Do they have a daily action plan and are they working it?
  4. Do they have the proper tools?
  5. Are their goals/your expectations attainable?
  6. De they see value in your organization?

Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these factors.

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  1. Are they the right person for the job?
If they’re in sales, they’re extroverts, right? Or they’re good at faking it. They have a can-do spirit that isn’t easily crushed. Do they pick themselves up after disappointment and keep charging, or do they give up, bit by bit? Are they persistent with customers and/or clients and knowledgeable about your product? Can you count on them to take feedback and incorporate it? These are all attributes of successful salespeople.
  1. Do they truly understand their jobs?
Are you happy enough to have them make the sale, or do you want follow up and service to be equally important? Is this communicated? In order to be a focused and manageable salesperson, expectations need to be fully spelled out so they understand the full scope of their job.
  1. Do they have a daily action plan and are they working it?
As part of a larger and more global approach to goal setting, having a daily action plan will help your salesforce take steps to success. Without this, consistent success is difficult.
  1. Do they have the proper tools?
There is a car dealership in my town that has mandated the use of tablets for their salesforce, so they can have answers readily available for customers. A great idea. Unfortunately, there is spotty connectivity, which means using the tablets is more frustrating than useful. Do your salespeople have the right tools and do they know how to use them?
  1. Are their goals (and your expectations) attainable?
They don’t have to be easily attainable, but setting goals so high that reaching them is all but impossible is very de-motivating. It’s great to set BHAGs for the group, and have fun making that push, but if your salesforce misses each month, you’ll have very unhappy employees.
  1. Do they see the value in your organization?
If nothing else, the millennials have demonstrated that fulfillment in non-monetary ways is of equal value to a paycheck. Whether Millennial or Baby Boomer, we all need to see non-monetary value. Collectively supporting a good cause, unusual perks in the office or vacation days that are honored (no calls from the office), show that there is value in working for you, not the competition. [/message][su_spacer]

One of my favorite memories is of a stockbroker who used to work for me. He was one of the hardest working, busiest but poorest brokers in the bunch. I had just taken over the leadership role, and in getting to know each of the brokers, I asked to see their business plans. No previous manager had ever requested one. As we worked through how this broker spent his days, it became clear that he was spending most of his time with clients on insurance sales. Since this wasn’t his expertise, the amount of time spent on research and follow up questions far outweighed the value he brought to the clients and they brought to him. By helping him to understand that his job allowed him to provide insurance through a third party expert, his time was freed up to concentrate on his areas of prime value. His clients loved that he was bringing in an expert, which allowed him to provide better service to them and more money to himself.

When I left that office, this broker told me I had changed his life.

He was the right person, but didn’t truly understand his job. He had no action plan, although he had the proper tools. In the end, by making a key adjustment to how he performed his job, this salesman found his goals attainable. The value was unmistakable.


Ilene Slatko
Ilene Slatko
Ilene Slatko joined Farr, Miller & Washington in early 2017 as a Vice President of Business Development. She will be bringing her financial education seminars back to the DC area; in particular, her long standing, “Women and Their Money” program. Her knowledge and insights have helped make the difference for many who have sat through her presentations and seminars. Ms. Slatko comes to Farr, Miller & Washington from Delaware Shareholder Services, where, as Principal, she followed bankrupt publicly traded companies for stakeholders around the globe. Prior to DSS, she spent 24 years as a Financial Advisor working with high-net-worth individuals, having started with Merrill Lynch prior to the Crash of 1987.

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