Is Your Sales Staff Holding You Hostage?

NOTE: This is part 1 of 2 for this topic. Look for 2 of 2 next week.

When you have a small sales force, as do many small businesses, it can be a scary thing if you lose even one salesperson. Consequently, many small business owners continue to put up with poor productivity in the name of stability. We often rationalize our inaction with reasons such as, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” or “I’m only paying them commission for the sales they make.” Or we keep underperforming salespeople because we fear the perceived repercussions of holding them accountable – that they will quit and take their customers with them.

Do you notice a common theme here? All of these reasons have to do with our mindset as owners rather than what our sales staff is – or isn’t – doing. In other words, our sales staff isn’t holding us hostage – we are!

In my experience working with over 300 small businesses in more than 80 industries, most salespeople don’t lack the selling skills necessary to do their jobs more effectively, although there is always room for improvement. And while they “talk the talk” about wanting to prospect for new business and close more sales, the real issue is whether their activities and activity levels are adequate to achieve their sales goals.

Are you familiar with the saying, “Inspect what you expect”? As owners, we have to know the true story of what each salesperson is doing vs. what they say they are doing. If you’re not getting specifics and tracking actual behaviors, you’re a sitting duck for all the “BS” some sales staff will throw at you to convince you they’re working hard or are just victims of a tough economy. (In a tough economy, you have to work even harder…not just complain more loudly!)

Tune in next week to my blog on what small owners can do about this.

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