Sales questions answered, responses to sales questions David Peterson - Atlanta Sales and Consulting
Questions and answers from David Peterson's ask the expert forum.


Topic: CONFIDENCE -  The #1 tool in your sale's tool box?






I'm not a traditional sales manager running a team of 10 in an office. I'm actually a direct marketer and I have about 40 people under me. Unfortunately only about 7 or 8 of them are active at any one time. So I have about 32 or so that sign up for my program, attend a few meetings and then drift away.


I have tried everything, acknowledging their achievements at team meetings, rewarding them with SPIFFs, bringing in other successful associates to tell them their story but nothing really works. Better said... nothing really sticks, they leave "pumped up" then they just drift away again. HELP!



Dear HELP!,

The good news for you is that you are not alone. Regardless if you are in an office setting or in a direct marketing setting managing sales representatives is basically the same with one general difference. That difference is:

Professional Sales Managers typically have about 80% of their staff on board and on pace of their sales targets. You are sitting closer to 20%.

Still even professional sales managers have some segment of their staff that is not performing. So again you are not alone.


The really good news is that there is one trait that all failing sales representatives are typically lacking. Now this trait will not cure all of your sales ills but it will if you can instill it on your reps give you an immediate impact on your SALES!


That trait is confidence! Sales representatives that lack confidence lack the ability to be "believable." If your reps aren't believable then they can't build the trust needed between buyers and sellers.


That trust and believability moves the sales process down the path towards the close. Reps without confidence ultimately give up and drift away.


So how do you give your reps the confidence they need? Obviously in depth product training is a must. The more your reps understand your product the more likely they are to speak with authority about your product.


What's after the product training?


After product training you have to train the reps on your specific sales process. The process that the other representatives are using to make an above average living. If 20%, 40% 60% or 80% of your reps are having success with your sales process then 100% of the reps need to learn it inside and out.


What's after the training on the sales process?


You have to train the sales representatives to believe in themselves. This is even more important than the product training. Reps that are confident in their own abilities can sell anything.


It needs to be drilled into your salespeople that once they understand your product and once they understand your sales process then they know more than 99.99% of all Americans on your product line and how it fits into your prospects and customers business.

That's the key... getting reps to understand that THEY are the authority on your product and your industry.

Once they understand that THEY are the authority then they will start probing and pitching your product line from a standing position facing your customers verses their current method of avoiding them at all cost.


Teaching reps to believe in themselves by proving to them that THEY are the authority in their field... now that is the #1 tool in your sale's tool box.


Topic: Managing Experienced Representatives






I am a new Sales Manger. I just got promoted. My problem is that all of the sales representatives are older and more experienced in sales with this company than I am. I have years of experience selling to this new company but I was just hired on to run their sales department. I know most of the current sales reps from my previous position.


If you could tell me some words of wisdom that could help me managed these older, experienced reps what would that be?



A lot of us have been put into this same situation. You just got hired into a supervisory position in a well established sales organization. Sales in the organization may be good, in fact your sales department may well be world class. So here are the two golden rules that you need to observe to "break" into your new role.


  1. Earn their trust, work hard for them, go to bat for them, and they will begin to work for you. That's what you are shooting for a team that wants to work for you, not just your company, but YOU. Always remember that Sales Managers are basically overhead. Needed overhead but overhead nonetheless. Don't go in with guns-a-blazing. Go to bat for them instead, earn their trust first.

  2. Before you begin coaching make sure you understand the departments entire chain of command, and the reps internal hierarchy.  There are always A,B,C and D players in every organization. My advice (and you need to take this advice) is to coach the "D" players out, coach the "C" players up, coach the "B" players after the "Cs," and finally ask the "A" players for advice. Once the department is yours then you can coach the "As" and really work on the "B" players.

This type of situation, where you are moving into a supervisory position in a well established sales organization can be tough. You need to have supervisory experience to pull it off.


For all hiring managers reading this I will say it one more time... Hire an experienced Sales Manager if you find yourself in this position.


It is a completely different situation if you are trying to revamp the department or start over. But when dealing with a room full of type "A" personalities it's best to remember the two rules above.


Remember the two rules and you will be miles down the road in a few short weeks. Good luck in your new supervisory role.


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