September '15

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80 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2015 rv-pro.com • The sales department is dull, lifeless, and no longer an exciting place to work. So how can you change your present system of minimum performance? There are a number of straightforward strate- gies, including: • Re-examine your thinking. Push the present aside while you examine new ones. • Try brainstorming. Use questions to stimulate thinking. • Keep your imagination working con- stantly. Keep a notebook handy and write down all the ideas you come up with. • Be willing to accept new ideas. If you push new ideas aside, you hammer the nails into the coffin of a dying sales department. • Encourage your salespeople to better your system. • Motivate your salespeople to improve their maximums by having them improve their standards. • Offer incentives for success, such as money, time off and praise. It's important to note that the sales man- ager has to help his salespeople set goals. Consider using the following techniques to help your salespeople become goal directed: • Teach them to make goals specific. • Get your salespeople out of that dream world by making them tell you what they want, and how they'll go about getting it. Help them state their desires as concrete goals. Help your salespeople develop a plan for achieving their goals. Show them what they need to do. • Make each salesperson's career goal exciting and worthwhile. • Teach salespeople to compete with themselves. They may want to work against former quotas or records, or standards they may like to improve. • Make the salespeople's career goals attainable, realistic, and reasonable. • Reward salespeople when they suc- ceed. Equally impor tant, don't promise your salespeople something you cannot give. A sales manager should say, "I'm proud of you" more, because that's one of the highest com- pliments you can give. Unless your salespeople are proud of themselves, you can't expect maximum produc- tivity from them. Recognizing minimum levels of per- formance is one thing. Wanting to change them is a whole different ball game. When you see a sales department team whose per- formance standards are declining, it may take a radical restructuring to bring the department back. This will take an effort from everyone involved, including the sup- port of upper management. Nine Steps to a Better Sales Staff A sales manager I know inherited a sales team that was ranked dead last in the region. The only producer was an 18-year veteran with the dealership. None of the other nine salespeople had more than one year of sales experience. Obviously, they were performing far below standards. The attitude in the dealership was pitiful. I heard a lot of excuses for poor per- formance, such as blaming the "lousy economy" and "our prices are too high." But what these salespeople really lacked was a success role model. Some 18 months later that dealership had moved up to No. 5 in the region, having posted the biggest increase in sales to date. Perhaps a few of the strategies used will help you improve the performance of your salespeople. Step 1: Delay action in order to observe. When you first arrive on the scene of a sales team in distress, don't do anything. Take a few months to understand your dealership's situation, gather information about the salespeople involved, and … Step 2: Study and assess your problem(s). The main problem was the salespeople didn't believe in themselves. They hadn't yet experienced success, and there was no role model, a salesperson of whom others can say, "there's somebody I can relate to who is successful." You may be thinking, "Hey, isn't it my role as a sales manager to set a leadership example?" And, of course, the answer is "yes." But the example you set for your people is not enough, because many sales- people emulate the actions of their peers. Given that many salespeople play "follow the leader," you've got to ask your- self which salespeople do your less experi- enced salespeople look up to? And, what kind of example are these "leaders" setting? You can get peak performance out of average producers if you can get average producers to emulate the success habits demonstrated by a leading salesperson. Clearly, they needed to find a leader. Fast. Step 3: Find your "bell cow". On the ranch, the herd will follow along behind the one cow with a bell around its neck. Many salespeople, especially those with less experience, emulate the example of the team's bell cow. So, it's important for you to study your team and identify who is the bell cow (informal leader)? Next, what example is your bell cow setting? Does he/ she display excellent work habits? Or, does he/she simply sit back and "milk" the best customers? The example of work ethic and attitude that your bell cow displays for the team is, perhaps, even more important than the example you set for the team. Hopefully, you already have a few players capable of stepping up. If so, talk to them. Help them see the importance of their success example, and ask them to share more of their talents, skills and energy with less experienced salespeople. Unfortunately, this particular dealer- ship discussed earlier had no one on-board capable of assuming the bell cow role, so the sales manager had to hire one. He knew that his next hire could play an impor- tant role in reversing the downward per- formance trend. He had his new leader when he hired "Bill". He told Bill, "If you stick with me, do exactly as I teach you to do, you will be very successful." Bill knew that he was counting on him, and he didn't let him down. In his fourth month, he produced 20 sales. Overnight, the attitude in the sales department changed from one of making excuses for poor performance to "what's that Bill guy doing?" Bill's performance

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