Sales-Style Analysis Pays Off

Originally published
Originally published: 1/4/2022

Understanding how your sales team approaches customers will enable you to provide the right support.

How do you analyze your sales people? It’s a fair question and one you should be able to answer.  Typical answers: she’s our ace, he’s unremarkable, or he has lots of potential but is a bit raw. Not exactly descriptions that help you categorize individuals so that you can offer the best support, advice, and training. With that thought in mind, I’ll offer a few suggestions on how to identify and categorize sales people in your organization so that you can train potential stars, weed out non-performers, offer encouragement to those who need it and deliver a kick in the pants to producers that have become unmotivated. 

Without a rating system it’s a guessing game. As a professional manager you need an evaluation system. To help you, I’ve accumulated these categories: 

The Telemarketer – This is actually an outside sales person that believes they can accomplish more on the phone and with e-mail than they can making face-to-face sales calls, building relationships and moving through the sales process. Their presentation skills are often weak, and they are uncomfortable during a presentation. 

The Visitor – The visitor is friendly and positive and wants to be the client’s friend. Product knowledge is fair, but could be better. The visitor doesn’t challenge the customer with questions about their needs or their problems. Typically, the visitor has a canned sales approach and is simply trying to make their set number of sales calls each month. Any sales made are typically from buyers that have done a fair amount of homework and already know what brand and system they want. 

The Story Teller – This salesperson has been around a while and thinks they know much more than they really do about sales and the sales process. This person emphasizes comparisons among the competition — most specifically with regard to price — and assumes most, if not all, objections are price related and the reason they did not get the sale. Mr. Story Teller (aka Mr. Slick) has a not-so-subtle “me” focus and places a great deal of emphasis on his needs rather than those of the client. Slick almost always pushes the client into solutions that “he” believes in, rather than what may be most appropriate. 

The Journeyman – This is the resident expert who knows the business and wants to close the sale today. Products knowledge is excellent, and understands problems and the solutions. Knows strengths and weaknesses of competitive products and is not afraid to discuss both in an open way because over the course of his career he has represented all of the major brands at one time or another. Most often he has a friendship with the client and is wary not to step over the line by taking advantage of it. Tells the customer what they need. 

The Partner – Has an incredibly high closing rate because they are able to sell solutions to problems. They are students of the business and more specifically of sales. They ask dozens of questions before discussing any solution for the client. They incorporate all of the good qualities of the Journeyman and have moved to the next level of sales, which is focusing their objective toward helping people and as a result they are sales leaders. 

While you may have different names or categories, I’m sure you recognize one or more of these individuals at your company. The important lesson is to identify your sales team’s strengths and weaknesses and set up training, tools and programs that help move individuals to the Partner level. 

One low-cost tool is a digital tape recorder. We use the Olympus WS-100. It weighs less than an ounce and is roughly an inch-and-a-half wide and three inches tall and is easily hidden in a shirt pocket. The recorder has a USB port and can be plugged into any computer. The digital files can be played back with any media player. 

Ask your sales team to tape a few sales calls. Don’t expect to get many files back at first. Experience says once the sales person replays the conversation they are embarrassed at how many mistakes and rough transitions they make. After making more calls, listening to them and making adjustments and improvements they are finally willing to share some of the taped sales calls. This is a great start, and once they share the tapes with you the real training begins. 

Another technique is pairing your great sales people with the not so good. Nothing is as beneficial and motivational as watching someone really good do their thing. It also provides a peer-to-peer forum, which is the best training tool of all.

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This article was originally published in November of 2007.