Sales people can have bad years but they need to be honest with themselves. When asking a sales person why they had a down year the typical response is the economy was bad or our marketing was subpar or our industry was in a downturn. You rarely hear “I was not very good at needs-based selling and my negotiation skills are terrible”. Gosh I hope you are laughing! But guess what good sales people sell in tough situations and economies. Here are the three questions you should ask a sales person who is struggling or coming off a down year:
- What are you willing to do to improve in specific areas that will enable you to drive your numbers upward? If they stall you may have an employee NOT vested in getting better and time is now a question whether to invest in them.
- What are the two specific skill or knowledge areas that if improved you feel would elevate your sales to another level. If they cannot answer they are not aware and not even looking in the mirror. This will start the coaching relationship.
- What is something that you were specifically doing at this point on your own that will allow yourself to improve? It’s critical sales people are reading or reviewing material all the time to improve and if not it speaks volumes about their true investment in themselves and their careers.
These questions go to the element of Will and Skill. All too often we tend to throw training at sales staff when underperforming or provide them with mandates to raise their numbers; nevertheless, it does not work. Sales people have to practice consistently and on a scheduled basis for performance to improve that enable numbers to consistently improve.
Your thoughts? Suggestions?