Get Rid of Half Your Sales Force – Now!
Why? Because the average sales professional these days is a high paid customer service person. Yes, I said a high paid customer service person.
I know this from experience. I spend a lot of time with sales professionals in the field. Also, last year I was asked to spend half a day talking to sales trainers about this problem. They have found that many of their client companies sales people are not using the sales skills being taught to them because most of the time these sales professionals are providing customer service. They wanted me there to teach these sales trainers how to teach Prospecting skills.
Here is what companies want to have happen. They want their customer base to grow so they can spread their future over as many customers as possible. That makes a lot of sense and I know that most of us want the same thing. The more customers we have the better and safer we are.
The catch here is that sales professionals and most companies don’t actually do that. The average sales professional spends the vast majority of their week in providing some form of customer service. They are following up on orders, making visits, talking with end users, taking folks to lunch. All nice and important activities, but this is not growing the customer base.
If you are in management, look at what your field sales team is doing. If I am wrong about your folks, great! Your company is growing and will be a lot more secure than your competitors. However, I know that most sales people are out there doing customer service work far too often.
There are two reasons this happens. The first is the reward system. If sales people are rewarded for new customers, you would get more new customers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that sales people go where they are rewarded and the discomfort is the least.
Which brings us to reason number two, no Prospecting skills. When sales people have no Prospecting skill, they feel very uncomfortable making Prospecting calls. We all know that when sales people feel uncomfortable about anything, they will NOT do it. This, of course, means that they are not bringing in new customers, since Prospecting is the necessary first step in getting new customers.
So let’s go back to our premise. The average sales person is not making Prospecting calls – they are providing customer service. As a result, the customer base of most companies is staying pretty much the same as it has been, except for the usual losses.
If your customers are having a really good year, then they will order more products and your sales will go up. If not, sales will go down. As I have said in this forum many times before, putting all your hopes on the performance of your customers’ sales teams and industries is not something you will see taught at The Harvard Business School.
And in this economy, that is a very risky position in which to find yourself.
The simple solution to this is two fold.
- First, train your sales people to Prospect and then reward their successes. Instead of their regular sales presentation training this year, teach them to Prospect so they will have a place to use that presentation training.
- Second, if you actually need all that customer service, make some people just customer service and have others as an actual field sales team. This may require re-allocating people and probably reducing your field sales force.
When you think about it, if your field sales team is not providing customer service but actually out Prospecting and selling, you can probably reduce it by half!
There, I just saved you a lot of money so you can train your folks to Prospect this year.
It’s just that simple.
Sell Well and Often.