Why Sales People Fail: The Pitfall and Perils of Hiring New Sales People


Some say that great sales people are born while others debate that they are made. No matter which side of the fence you sit on in this debate, it has become clear through experience that without a great support structure there would be no great salesperson. A great sales person is one that carries him/herself with a large degree of self-confidence, is not afraid to socialise and interact with people and is assertive, resilient as well as credible and purposely target-driven.

Sales people of this calibre tend to stay with their chosen company for years on end, they have found their fit so why would they want to leave. Taking on new sales staff that have the promise and potential to significantly bolster your sales revenue, and create and manage successful customer relationships which ensure your business’s long-term sustainability, have to be supported by the company. This includes the management of the business and sales processes. As we move forward, we will be looking at some of the common pitfalls that shed some bad light when it comes to the hiring and retention of new sales personnel.

Flawed Sales Structure and/or Strategy

It has been said, that if you had to pit a great sales person against a flawed system, the system would win virtually every time. The importance of a sales and CRM system that works, and is user-friendly, is a priority. Software that has been specifically designed to ease the pressure and workload of sales personnel must be fully understood, and those using the system comprehensively trained. Having a flawed sales process will do your company no favours what so ever. By defining your lead generation tactics, nurturing cycle/process and CRM contact lists, employees are less likely to get frustrated, in turn causing them to become demotivated and despondent. Make sure that you have outlined and designed easy to follow and effective processes, incorporating CRM and automation software where necessary. Learn more about CRM tools here- Which CRM Should I Use For My Business?

Weak Supervision or Lack thereof

When it comes to analysing sales, you can only measure the outputs. How do we change these outputs? Simple, by changing the inputs. Although great sales people are well-disciplined go-getters, they do need to know that they are doing a good job. They seek reward or recognition for all their hard work and effort, they want to be noticed. A supervisor that shows no gratitude and who lacks decorum, strong leadership skills, one who micro-manages their staff, and is also a poor communicator, will very soon find their staff falling behind in the numbers game. Daily or weekly reviews and feedback will help both supervisors and sales personnel maintain open lines of communication, build morale, and create the opportunity and setting for efficient problem solving.

They were ‘Sold a Pup’

The position that was advertised was oversold, and the company is not able to deliver on the promises it made. The position’s attractive OTE is based on unrealistically high sales numbers; the company has overstated its place/value in the market, products/services are not as differentiated as they have been promoted to be. Good sales people that have been sold on this sales pitch will soon find that the expectation they were sold on is contrary to the reality, therefore, they will most likely move to another company. This is simply bad practice for a company and its hiring management, and should rather be avoided as any sort of practice.

Company Acquisition or Change

Any significant changes to a company and to the direction that it is heading will have an effect on sales staff whether it is a temporary dip to some, while others possibly seek new employment. These dramatic changes can be influenced by, for example, a new/different product they are now selling, a change in whom they are selling to, and possibly even how they are selling.

Change in a company’s culture could also be a factor that drives good salespeople to seek alternate employment, or perhaps their loss of motivation or lack of belief in the company itself. Guiding staff through the changes that are/have been implemented should be a logical and incremental process aligning all staff members with company’s new strategy, policies and processes.

The importance of a great sales team

Offering great packages to sales people, those that include a company car, cell phone, laptop and additional perks, is attractive and will get the right people coming to your door, but retaining these people is where the work becomes difficult. A great sales person with an unmatched skill set will undoubtedly benefit your company if you have the ability to keep them there. Using sales processes that are understood and mastered by sales staff is only possible through the correct training and supervision.

Support and recognition are commodities valued by sales people. Making it clear that they are appreciated and valued while getting the support they need from line managers, as well as top management, will provide them with the incentive they need to create your company’s wealth. Losing great sales people through ineffective processes and bad management is a sure fire way to see your revenue’s decline, while the retention of top sales staff should be a priority, and is vital to your company’s continued success.

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