6 Reasons Salespeople Fail

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One of the most difficult things for water equipment dealers is to find and keep successful salespeople. If you have tried and failed, here are the top six reasons many dealers cannot find and keep successful salespeople.

Not Enough Selection

You won’t find the best people if you choose from a group that is too small. You need to use techniques that will allow you to choose the very best salespeople from a large number of candidates. You need to interview an average of 20 candidates to find one good salesperson. Therefore, if you are choosing from just one or two who walk in or answer an ad, your chances of finding candidates with potential is low.

Lack of Transferable Skills

Water equipment dealers are some of the nicest people on earth. Many of them hire friends and family to “help them out.” But this often leads to failure.

The best indication that a salesperson will succeed is proven success in a related industry. For example, if a candidate has had proven success in another in-home sales industry like pest control, freezer plans or pre-need burial, there is a very good chance that candidate will succeed for you.

Also, look for salespeople who are successful at generating their own leads. If a salesperson was successful for a company that generated the leads for them, (unless you do the same) that person will likely fail.

Don’t just ask candidates if they have these skills; make them show you by calling a few numbers to set an appointment or doing what they say they do to get sales. Remember that salespeople sell during the interview. Just because they say they can generate leads and close does not mean they can. We suggest you see them in action.

Lack Of Accountability

Never hire sales staff without written standards they agree to meet—such as how many people they will contact each week, how many demonstrations they will perform weekly and what percentage of demonstrations they will close weekly. You may also want to set out in writing what prospecting activities they agree to perform and how many per week. Then, at the end of each week, review what they did and how it compares to your agreement. Explain that if they cannot meet these goals for any reason, they cannot stay.

Be sure to have a timed exit strategy. How long will you give new employees to meet these goals before you ask them to leave? Hiring without these items in place is a big factor in failure.

No Successful Demo

Most owners sell without a demo because they mainly sell to people who have called in with a problem. Salespeople you hire need to practice, drill and rehearse a good demonstration because they will be selling to people who need more convincing to buy. They will not be able to sell successfully without it.

Working Wrong Hours

Most owners work from early in the day until early evening, and many work Monday through Friday. Your sales staff will not succeed if they work those hours. If you are an owner, you can do it because you mainly sell call-ins, but salespeople will have a hard time getting appointments if the customer has to take a day off work to get a demo or water test. We suggest having your salespeople work the hours that customers are available to buy. Those hours are 12 to 9 p.m. on weekdays and all day on Saturday in most markets.

No Daily Supervision

Many owners dream of finding salespeople you can hire and set on autopilot. This is not going to work. Supervise every salesperson daily to find out how many demos they did and how many they closed. You need to help them if they cannot get into homes or if they cannot close. If you leave them on their own, they will fail.

This sounds like a lot of work, and it is; however, nothing adds as much to your profits as getting a successful salesperson. An average salesperson should sell three times per week. That’s about 12 systems per month. Weigh the profit against the effort of getting them started properly and I believe you will find them an excellent investment.

Carl Davidson is director of Sales and Management Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in sales and management video training, recruiting and live seminars exclusively for the water equipment industry. A free demonstration video and list of products and topics available at 800.941.0068. Send comments on this article to him at reactions@carldavidson.com; www.carldavidson.com.

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