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Why Do Companies Struggle With Finding Good Salespeople?

Why Do companies struggle with finding good sales people

What is your success rate in finding good salespeople who meet goals and stick around for more than 2-3 years? The most common answer is about one out of every seven salespeople meet those criteria. Here’s how to increase that number and find a great salesperson.

What's the Problem?

One CEO reported that they had gone through five salespeople for the same position in the last ten years. None of them worked. Frustrated CEOs will often say things like, "They interviewed great, they've had past success in my industry, and they had an excellent network. Yet they struggled when they got to me.”

Why is finding good salespeople so hard?

There are several reasons that salespeople don't work out, but the biggest areas of failure are the following:

  • Wrong person
  • Insufficient onboarding
  • Lack of management/development

The Wrong Person

Face it, sometimes we hire the wrong person, but that can typically be avoided. 

Start with defining what you want in the new salesperson. It needs to go beyond the typical broad definition: "They are a hard worker, they know my industry, they are a good communicator, and they have a good track record." 

That's not enough. 

Salespeople possess all kinds of different skill sets. Hiring for a "hunter" is different than hiring for a "farmer." So is hiring for an inside salesperson vs. an outside. 

Selling directly to the customer is very different than selling to a partner, like a dealer or a distributor, who then sells to the customer.

Then there are more subtle factors like, "Will they be generating their leads, or will they be given leads?" That is an important question that needs to be defined upfront. "Do they know how to sell the premium product in the space or the low-cost solution?" That's a vast difference in skill sets. 

Think about all the things you need the person to be good at, then narrow it down to the 3-5 most important to the company. Next, design your interview questions around those 3-5 skill sets.

Insufficient Onboarding 

Even a thoroughbred won't do well if you don't give them the proper training. Even if you've hired someone from within the industry, that does not mean they know how to position your products, set up your differentiation, and follow your sales process. 

They need to learn those items. Spending two weeks with them on the product or service you sell and then having them shadow somebody on the team will not give them the knowledge and skill they need to be successful. 

Our biggest tip here is to validate their training to ensure that what you've told them has stuck and they can apply it. Make them give you the elevator pitch. Roleplay a good Discovery call with them. Have them give you a presentation as if you were the customer. Build in validation steps to ensure they have learned the essential skills to succeed.

Lack of Management

Many leaders or business owners hate to admit it, but sometimes it is not the salesperson but the manager. 

Setting a goal for the salesperson and pointing them at a territory or group of accounts is not management, yet it happens often.

Even the smartest and hardest-working salespeople need some direction, accountability, and feedback. Ask these questions:

  • Have you set specific goals for them outside of just the revenue number? Are they clear on who they should be calling on? 
  • How many meetings or opportunities should they be finding per month? Do you meet with them regularly to hold them to these activity levels? 
  • Are you doing ride-alongs with them occasionally to ensure they are as effective as possible? 

This proactive management can do two things: 1) identify issues early in the process, so you don't waste months on a bad hire, and 2) give you a way to continually improve their skill sets.

In the End

The world is not full of bad salespeople with only a few gems. Finding good salespeople is possible, but there is work that you need to do to find the right ones for your company and make them successful.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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