It’s hard to hire a good staffing salesperson.
It’s even harder to successfully manage one.
(you’re nodding in violent agreement…I just know it)
If I had $20 for every call I’ve received from a sales leader looking for advice about an underperforming sales rep in the last fifteen years I think I could actually retire early. Or at least buy a new car.
The conversation typically goes like this:
Sales Leader: “I hired a sales rep three months ago and she hasn’t closed any business. Should I let her go?”
Me: “Well, that depends. Is she wired for sales? Does she know exactly what’s expected of her? Has she been trained? Does she have a plan? Are you holding her accountable and coaching her?”
Sales Leader: “Well, I hired her with experience so I would assume she knows what to do.”
Me: “In my experience, even people with previous staffing sales experience need 4 things:
- complete clarity in terms of what is expected of them,
- a target account list,
- a touch plan they are held accountable to implementing consistently, and
- training and coaching support from their boss.”Sales Leader: “Uh, maybe I have some work to do before I give up on her…”
If you’ve just hired a sales rep, assuming you’ve hired right, here are 5 things to do to avoid making that call to me 90 days from now:
- Make sure your rep has a thoughtfully-constructed target account list. The right list maximizes the use of her selling time and effectiveness. What clients haven’t ordered in six months or more? Who is your firm’s ideal prospect – and how has it changed since the pandemic? Who are you most successful winning business with – enterprise organizations or small to mid-size businesses with no HR department? What industries are growing in your market? What skills are in high demand that your company can service well?
- Make sure your sales rep is given a sales system. The wiring that makes a salesperson successful is NOT her affinity for structure and organization (snooze…). It’s her extroversion, energy, and passion for the business. It’s her ability to get a hiring manager excited about working with her. In fact most salespeople would tell you they’re lousy at planning and managing their time. So make it easy and give her a sales touch plan that spells out exactly what to do, what to say, and what to do next. If you don’t have one, call me. Bonus: If she consistently follows a good touch plan, you won’t need to give her sales activity minimums.
- Make sure your rep knows exactly what she has to do to hit her GP quota. This requires reviewing your sales history and doing some math. Make sure your rep is carrying a pipeline of qualified prospects with combined revenue potential large enough for him to exceed her gross profit quota based on an average close rate. A good benchmark is to assume a 25% close rate – and hopefully that will prove wildly conservative.
- Make sure you have a tracking system in place to assess your rep’s progress. Whether your firm has the latest salesforce automation tool integrated with the ATS or uses Hubspot or Pipedrive, the key is to track her sales activity. As the sales leader, you must have visibility to her activity to coach her effectively.
- Make sure to spend time with your rep. Beyond just inspecting what you expect, have weekly 1:1s and don’t cancel them. Review last week’s results, but also allow her to vent frustrations and talk her off the ledge if needed (sales can be lonely). Praise her for what’s going well, coach her through challenges, and discuss this week’s priorities together. She will come to count on your mentoring and miss it when you’re on vacation.
Assuming you hired right, the bottom line if your sales rep isn’t selling is it may have as much to do with the way she is being managed as with her own inherent abilities and motivation.
Just know that as the sales leader your rep’s success is ultimately a reflection of yours.