Raising the Bar for Your Sales Force

Vistage speaker Ken Stark  finds that many CEOs, owners and presidents are satisfied with mediocre performances from their sales force–so that’s the level of performance they get.

“I’m not sure they (CEOs and owners) even understand that it’s mediocrity. The bar’s been set too low for many years. They have the perception that it’s so hard to find good sales people, that they have to put up with whatever they can get out of them,” he says.

If you want to raise the bar for your sales force, here’s where you can begin:

  1. Forget about historic territory performance. Attaching small incremental growth targets to territories that have historically under-performed is a trap. Set expectations on what should be, not on what has been.
  2. Forget numbers for awhile. Sales numbers are history. They’re lagging indicators. Develop and clearly define the behaviors that are required for your salespeople to meet their targets, then track them and hold your salespeopleunconditionally accountable for doing them consistently.
  3. Look at your salespeople as campersclimbers or quitters. Start now to upgrade everyone to the climber, A-Player category. If that’s not possible, you may have to de-select and start over. And when you hire, do so with a no-compromise attitude. They must be A-Players.
  4. If you have more than five or six salespeople, you need to commit to having someone in place whose job is to supervisetraincoach and mentor your salespeople at least 85% of the time. That’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity if you want to maximize your ROI on your sales team.
  5. You must unconditionally commit to raising the bar for your sales organization. If you cannot see that bar at a higher level, no one else will either.Seeing success at each step along the way will bolster confidence and commitment to the next one. It is only by taking these steps that you can move from mediocre toward “high performing” sales teams with “A Players,” Stark says.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ken Stark is owner of Stark & Associates in St. Louis. He works with senior managers of companies to develop and upgrade their sales teams primarily by evaluating, training, coaching and developing their sales managers and sales people on a longer-term basis.

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