Most of the staffing firms I talk with have had at least one bad experience with hiring and managing a sales rep. I tend to hear things like “they didn’t want to do what it takes to be successful” or “they had great credentials, but did nothing with us”. But what are the real reasons that sales reps fail, and how can we significantly increase our (and the sales rep’s) chances of success?
So why do salespeople fail? We hear a number of reasons, which you may have experienced as well. These include:
- Lack of sales skills
- Lack of motivation
- Poor time management
- Lack of credibility
- Lack of industry or product knowledge
- Ineffective relationship building skills
All of these reasons focus on the sales professionals’ lack of knowledge, skills, abilities and weak personal characteristics. We place the blame for the lack of success on the sales professional when the reality is that we can take ownership over many of these failures. From an organizational perspective, we fail in:
- Lack of sales resources
- Lack of managerial direction
- Uncompetitive service or product
- Lack of training or coaching
- Vague or no set sales goals
- Metrics not aligned with company goals
- Ineffective compensation plan
- Unrealistic goals
- Service failures
You should ask yourself, “Have I identified key sales competencies and hired someone that fits the ideal sales profile?” “Have I evaluated the new hires knowledge and skill gaps and provided training?” “Have I created an effective sales process, established reasonable goals, and a motivating comp plan?” “Have I met with my sales rep regularly and provided coaching toward their goals?” With this understanding, you can bring your sales team to the desired performance level as quickly as possible.
This is a pivotal role for your business. Sales reps are the most expensive positions to have fail. It can cost you up to an annual salary in recruiting, selection, and training to have an unsuccessful hire. Over and above these costs you have productivity lost and opportunity cost. It takes three to six months for a new hire to come on board, and it takes another four to six months for the new sales to get acclimated in their role and start paying for themselves in return. So, we are looking at upwards of a years’ lost revenue. The best way to ensure a great return on your investment is to know what you are looking for in a sales rep and provide them with the infrastructure and support to be successful.
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