A friend of mine was hired as President of a building supplies distributor in the Midwest. The company was profitable but they seemed to have run into a brick wall once they reached the fifty million dollar mark in sales. This can be quite a challenge for any management team. It is not an uncommon problem. Sales in many companies may from time to time hit a brick wall and become stagnant regardless of the overall size of the revenue stream. My friend told me that his entire sales team seemed to have lost their passion.
Rekindle the Passion
Sounds easy but exactly how you rekindle passion. Is there really such a thing as rekindling passion? The answer to that question is yes. Passion is a result of doing something you love to do. It means becoming really good at it. If you love doing it, you become committed to being successful at it.
You might scoff and say; “Rick, we had that passion in our sales force but we seem to have lost it. ”
Surprisingly, that does happen which brings us to the first question; how do you rekindle passion? I certainly can’t downplay this. It is difficult. But, it starts with having the right sales leadership in place; a leader that has excellent people skills. Not sales skills but people skills, leadership skills that make people want to follow them. They make people want to release discretionary energy and give that extra. That may mean an extra call everyday or working till 5pm on Fridays or doing whatever it takes to provide solutions to customers problems.
If our Sales Manager has lost it, how do we get it back?
The answer to that question begins by asking yourself another question; do you have the right person in the job of sales manager. Are they a leader or were they simply your best sales person. Do they have real leadership skills? Sometimes rejuvenating your sales force requires a change in leadership. It may even require a change in the sales force; the development of a documented sales strategy or even just a simple territorial restructuring.
However, before you get radical, ask yourself the following questions;
Nowadays, salespeople must be problem solvers able to generate solutions for customers in their time of need. Therefore, they must possess a great deal of knowledge about your customers’ business. They must actually define what those needs are because the customer may not know, nor take the time to explain if they do know. Customers want you to have the knowledge and intelligence to comprehend and analyze their problems before showing up at the door. Customers will listen and buy from the salesperson that finds the “pain" and takes it away. ”
Sometimes going back to the basics is part of the answer to rekindling the passion. That means revisiting best practice in all areas including targeting, goal setting, customer profiling and action planning. Some of your sales people may have forgotten and some of them may have never known the principles
Selling is a profession that requires Professional Leadership.
Managing a group of professionals with the type of personalities required to succeed in sales is no easy task. So if you have done everything possible to support, educate and train your sales manager and you just can’t rekindle that passion, you may have to change sales managers.
Sales management holds the key to meeting company objectives. Effective sales management must build the platform for success. Sales people are not the easiest group in the company to manage. If they were they would not be sales people. Selling is not easy. It takes a special talent, self motivation, self discipline, a passion to succeed and the ability to accept rejection. The reality of the situation is simple. The majority of sales people are not managed well.
Today our sales environment leans toward a more multifaceted atmosphere; salespeople must become strategists with a plan. This plan requires more knowledge about the business, better relationships and better solutions. Some old school salesmen may believe they know what it takes. They have the experience. They've been around a long time. They also may have lost that passion. The world has changed. To rekindle the passion that has been lost may mean doing things differently. You can't afford to be complacent. Complacency destroys passion.
Sales is a profession that requires professional sales people and professional leadership.
Every company needs aggressive, creative and resourceful salespeople to have their products specified, accepted and used by customers. Without informed and capable field salespeople, no company could hope to compete in the marketplace today. But they have to have a passion for success a leader they look up to that shares that passion for success.
I believe that good salespeople, the kind who can help a company really grow, don’t just happen to come along by chance or fate. Just as there is no such thing as a “born leader”; there is no such thing as a “born salesperson, ” because selling ability is much more than an intangible given that a person either has or doesn’t have. Granted, selling does require certain attributes in a person and some people are naturally born with these attributes and some aren’t. Also, the person must be intelligent, able to grasp ideas and details easily, retain them and recall them for use whenever necessary in selling situations. These factors and many others relating to personal and emotional characteristics are contributing elements in the makeup of the professional salesperson. However, these attributes alone do not make a sales person nor do they guarantee success. It takes more than that. A sales person must have a leader they can look up to, a leader they can respect, and a leader that can rekindle their personal passion when the tank starts to run dry.
So, if your sales have become stagnant check the passion level of your team. Get involved with your sales force. Analyze what you have done as a company to support sales leadership. Become a coach, a mentor and take on the responsibility for rekindling that passion even if it means creating change.
www.ceostrategist.com – Sign up to receive “The Howl” a free monthly newsletter that addresses real world industry issues. – Straight talk about today’s issues. Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution’s “Leadership Strategist”, founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail email@example.com .