Many businesses spend a ton of money trying to recruit new salespeople, but they spend little to nothing to help train and support the ones they have.
David: Hi and welcome to the podcast, today co-host Chris Templeton and I are here to talk about the terrible practice of spending lots of money to recruit new salespeople and then spending little to nothing to help the very people that they’ve recruited. Welcome Chris!
Chris: Thank you, David. Well, what are you so worked up about on this one?
David: What am I worked up about? I guess I’m worked up because I’ve been doing sales training and marketing training for much of my adult life. Nearly all of my adult life has been involved in sales and marketing in one capacity or another, and when I see this practice, it just sort of drives me crazy because it feels like people are saying they don’t care about their salespeople or they certainly don’t care enough, but what they’re saying is, “Hey, glad to have you aboard, now I’m going to go find somebody else!” Right? It’s about piling up and stacking up salespeople with the idea that it’s sort of a revolving door and some people will spin out and some people spin in and the good ones might or might not stay. And I just think it’s such a short-sighted practice. And as I mentioned in a previous podcast, I’ve done a lot of work in the promotional products industry where this practice is rampant. There are ads everywhere trying to recruit other people’s salespeople. So the whole goal is that I want to try to get people at other companies to come work for me, right? And other people at those companies are trying to get my people to work for them. So there’s this whole thing going on where it’s this big sales person swap and they’re so focused on creating this vortex of salespeople moving from organization to organization to organization that they forget that once they’ve recruited these people, if they were to simply help them a bit; simply train them on what’s going to work well and what’s not going to work as well, that they can be more successful. Their business could be more successful, their sales people can be more successful. It’s more success all the way around and I just think this is ignored or avoided entirely too much.
Chris: I one hundred percent agree with you. Talk about what you can do to help a manager to change from being, “Let’s see what sticks on the wall” to really taking care and helping their salespeople to become better at what they’re doing. What is required in a sales manager’s mindset to make that transition David?
David: Well, part of it is the salesperson or the sales manager rather, and part of it is the ownership. If the ownership is not willing to put any sort of funds behind it, then it’s just not going to happen. But if a sales manager can just think in terms of, “What can I do to help and nurture this salesperson so that this person can get in front of the right people, be more likely to be saying the right things, be putting the best foot of the business forward?” That’s the thing that drives me crazy, is the idea that a business would spend tons of money to recruit someone in and then just turn them loose and say “Go ahead, knock yourself out.” In the promotions industry in particular, a lot of times these people are independent contractors and so management will very often use that as an excuse. They’ll say, “Well they’re independent contractors so we can’t force them to do anything.” Which is true, but you can offer it – and the ones who are likely to take you up on the offer are the ones who are going to be the ones you want to keep. Cause the ones that don’t want to do it anyway; they don’t want to learn anything new, they don’t want to grow. They’re not going to be as valuable. So simply by offering salespeople the option of learning things that would help them to increase their sales and improve their profit margins, they’re going to be a lot better off.
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Chris: And think about, we're talking sales and marketing here. Think about how important it is that message that you're giving to the salesperson that you care about them beyond recruiting.
David: Yeah. Well, I think a lot of times it doesn't even occur to them. You know the business owners are so focused on just bringing new people in that it doesn't even occur to them that they should be treating the people they have better. As a sales principle, we all know that it is far easier to resell an existing client than it is to go out and find a new client. But in this particular case, I think some business owners and some managers lose sight of the fact that the assets they have, the people that they have who have said, "I'm going to dedicate my time, my day, my life to your business." deserve some level of respect and some sort of level of commitment from the business ownership from the sales management to say, "Listen, we want you to be successful. What do you need? What would help you to be able to do your job more effectively? What can we provide you that would help you more than we've been doing so far?"
Chris: And so what do you do to help the managers and the ownership to see the value of training their own people? Like how do you help them to get the value of that?
David: I have no idea because this is the one thing that has just been such a sticking point for so long. There is just a small percentage of people who will actually do this and no matter what you say to them or how you express it, they're either going to buy into that idea that they should invest in their own people or they can just continue to ignore them and try to bring new people in and hope that works. But it's a mindset shift and it's not a mindset shift that's going to come from the outside. It's a mindset shift that is going to have to come from the person where they're going to have to have some sort of Ah-ha moment to say, “You know what, these people really are valuable to me. I do value the fact that they are committing their time and energy and effort to building my business and I want to do everything I can to help them, not just try to bring in other people who can surround them and sell stuff as well.”
Chris: Well, and I imagine a big piece of this is also you've seen the results of your work where a manager does say, “Oh my gosh, I really do need to spend more time on keeping my people well trained and giving them the tools and resources that they need.” When you see a manager that does that, the sales have to be so much better, don't they as a result?
David: They do and you also see the value that they place on their own people, we have clients, we have sales managers and business owners who do see that value; but as a percentage of the industry, it is a relatively small percentage that actually get it. To me that makes the ones who do get it just far more valuable to their people, to their clients and to the industry at large.
Chris: Are there specific things that you see from a training standpoint that managers really are missing the boat on, like specific issues that they ought to be training their people on?
David: Well, I think there's a lot of generic training. There's a lot of bare bones, be good to people and they'll be good to you and treat your customers nice and they'll be good to you. Right? There's a lot of that sort of things. Platitudes as opposed to education. A lot of the training that I've done in live seminars, in our webinars and various trainings that we've done has been related to very specific aspects of things like targeting. Which types of prospects and clients should I target? How should I lead in? What should my first contact be with a new prospect? Should I call them on the phone? Should I visit them in person? Should I write a note, wrap it around a rock and throw it through their window? There are lots of different ways to get that first impression made, but the key is to make it a good first impression and if it's just going to be a standard, typical cold call, that's going to be a lot different than if it's something more thoughtful and intelligent. And you've probably heard the adage over the years, sales managers who have been saying it for decades, it's a numbers game. It's just a numbers game and you have to make more calls and more calls and more calls; and sales is a numbers game, but it's a smart numbers game. It's not just about raw numbers, it's about doing the right things in quantities that make sense. Getting to the right people saying the right things, and you can do a lot less of that well and you'll get more clients than if you're doing a lot of the wrong things over and over and over again.
Chris: Boy, I have seen this over and over and over again, and I just think it's such a disservice to your company, to your salespeople; when you just decide that you're gonna let those guys loose, see which ones stick and give them, the 'Attaboy' when they've done the right thing. There's so much more you can do to make these sales people better at what they're doing and to make your business better as a result. Isn't that like the essence of this?
David: It seems so obvious, doesn't it? I remember having a conversation with someone who had a very large business and I was talking to a senior executive in this company and I was talking to them about training salespeople, and I asked, what is your budget for training your salespeople? And he didn't know. He didn't know. He's like, hmm, that's a good question. I'm not sure. And this is a person who was responsible for doing that. So the fact that they didn't even what sort of budget they had for training is kind of a crazy indictment of the system to say, how can you operate a business whose job it is to sell and not know what you have to invest in your own people. It's just crazy.
Chris: Don't you think that a big piece of it is kind of the cultural stories about what it means to be a salesperson? I think for some managers it's like the underbelly of our business, “Well you know, I send these guys out, I hope they do a good job.” It's like you said earlier on the last podcast, it's about putting your best foot forward and managers need to understand that if they do the right thing by their sales people, (managers and owners), their business is being put out with the best foot forward in ways that are meaningful.
David: It's just crazy that a business owner who has salespeople working under them and or a sales manager who has sales people working under them could have that line of thinking. That didn't even occur to me. I mean, I know that there are people who look down on salespeople. The profession has gotten a black eye over the years because there are people who don't know what they're doing. They don't do a good job and they get out there and they do it anyway and they can create a bad vibe in the market. But for a sales manager or a business owner, to think of their salespeople in that regard is just ridiculous. I have the utmost regard for salespeople. What salespeople do is not easy. It's not for the faint of heart. You've got to be serious about wanting to create a positive result for people. At least that's the best way that it happens, is you've got a product or service that you know is going to help someone and you feel motivated to get out and share that with them. If you're just trying to hawk a product because you need to make a sale… then yeah, you're not going to really be as successful as you can possibly be. But if you believe in what you're doing and if you're working for a company that provides a high quality product or service and they're not helping you to be able to communicate that to your market, then maybe it's time to look somewhere else.
Chris: Boy, no kidding. And you know, I remember years and years ago reading a stat that life insurance salesman were as a group regarded just a hair above used car salesman. And what fascinated me was that the other side of that was, the minute somebody had an agent that was a good agent; the general consensus was that they had a huge amount of trust and faith in those people. And basically what you're talking about is helping in an industry that's rife with incompetence at a lot of levels. If you invest in your sales people, you are - right out the gate - changing the whole dynamic. When those salespeople are out there doing the things that they need to do, putting their best foot forward and because of your investment in them, they are making your company more money, more committed to being there and that has an impact everywhere down the line doesn't it?
David: Yeah, and there's an old saying that says the fish stinks from the head down. And so if there are people who oversee an organization that doesn't value its salespeople enough to really look after them and really invest in them, then they deserve what they get.
Chris: And let's be clear, the other side of this is there are guys like you at topsecrets.com that are dedicated not to creating a bunch of cultural stereotypical salesman, but salespeople that are competent, that know what they're doing that understand the value of building comfort levels and creating relationships. And that's your approach versus the standard cultural one, isn't it?
David: It is. That's been the approach all along and I think the advantage to me is that the people that I work with are able to get that and so it might not be a whole bunch of people in one organization. It's lots of different people in lots of different organizations and hopefully what's happening is that those people start to stand out and others look at them and they say, Hey, what's that person doing? How are they achieving those sorts of results? And hopefully that will create this sort of tidal wave that's necessary in order to start changing things for the better for the salesperson, for the sales manager, for the organization, and perhaps most importantly for the prospects and clients so that they can have a decent relationship.
Chris: Absolutely. You couldn't have said it better and you hope that the salespeople are asking that question of other good salespeople they see. Hopefully the sales managers out there seeing good salespeople and saying, "What's your manager doing that been so helpful and that I can do on my end?"
David: Right, and to those who are already doing it, congratulations. Keep it up because your people will appreciate it and they will continue to want to work for you if you help to empower them.
Chris: And to those who aren't, you know, you can be doing better and here is a fabulous way to begin that process of supporting your salespeople to make your organization, whether you're the owner or a manager, a better place, more productive, more fun. We all know what it's like being in organizations where the sales people are complaining and super negative. You can solve that as a sales manager. Right?
David: Yeah. As long as you've got the support of ownership and you can put some focus behind it, it's not just a matter of dollars. It's like, "Do I want to do this?" Changing that mindset from the top down to say, “Our organization is going to be about empowering our people and helping them to do the very best job we can do for our prospects and clients.”
Chris: Boy, that is it. Right on the money. Okay. Let's wrap up with this. Talk about the action steps that you think sales managers and owners need to implement.
David: Okay. Well, first of all, examine your own mindset ‘cause if your mindset is I want to bring more people in and I don't care about the people in my organization, maybe rethink that strategy; because it may have worked for a while and it may work some times, but it's just not healthy for the success of your business and for the success of your people and keeping in mind your people are responsible for 100% of the sales you're making to date. Beyond that, consider which of your people need help and are open to training and then consider which of them need help but are not open to training and then train those who are willing and to make your other personnel decisions accordingly. Make those decisions based on the results and the type of organization you want to build. If you want to build an organization of professionals who you're going to be proud to have on the streets for you, that's going to be a lot different than if you're just trying to bring in anyone with a pulse.
4 Action Steps to Improve Your Results
- Examine your mindset. Are you willing to help the salespeople you already have?
- Consider which of your people need help and are open to training, and which need help but are not open to training.
- Train those who are willing.
- Make the appropriate personnel decisions about those who require training, but are unwilling to take it.
Chris: And if you are a sales manager that wants to do better, that wants to have a more successful sales force, the best thing that you can do is go to topsecrets.com/call and you will be able to talk to somebody at Top Secrets who's going to take you through what you can do to be better. And it is worth every moment of your time to do what's right by these salespeople. Isn't it David?
David: Well, I think it is, and as far as the call is concerned, there's no charge for that. So it's really just a matter of, you know, do you have some time to invest to talk about the success of your sales people?
Chris: Boy, boy, you know, this is one that we both get pretty worked up about because we've seen so much wasted talent and there's so much more that we can do to really help these salespeople to be the best that they can be. Thank you so much for this podcast. This was really good. Before we wrap up, let's talk about what's coming on the next podcast, David.
David: Okay, Chris, in our next podcast we will be talking about intelligent repetition of contact. This is critical to success for anyone in sales. When we're trying to sell something to someone, it's usually not just one conversation. We have to be in touch with people again and again and again. How do we do that without driving people crazy?
David: Thank you, Chris.
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