Retain Sales Reps From Generation Y

by Shannon F. It has always been tough to find and retain great salespeople, but Gen Y is notoriously hard to hold onto. That’s a loss for you, because this generation has a lot of passion and innovation to bring to your sales department. If you are considering hiring from the latest batch of college graduates entering the job market, you could find the most loyal employee of your career OR one of the most challenging. Either way, handling young talent means knowing how to turn potentially problematic traits into wins for both you and your new hire. Trait #1 – Gen Y is impatient. Raised with instant knowledge and entertainment at their fingertips, Gen Y likes to jump right in, see results at lightning speed, and progress quickly in their careers – perhaps before you think they’re ready. Your new Gen Y salesperson may be unwilling to sit through hours of training, because she grew up learning by doing. Nobody taught her how to create complex Sims cities or start her own vlog – she just jumped in and did it. It’s no surprise she wants her career to work the same way. Make it a win for you – Your Gen Y salesperson wants to prove himself, so let him. Instead of sticking him in days of seminars before he hits the selling floor, try a few call simulations where he has to think on his feet with very little time to process information. This will force your […]

How can you determine your sales rep’s chances of success?

by Shannon F. Hiring a new sales rep can be a gamble, especially considering that he or she may take three to twelve months or even longer to become fully productive. If you recently hired a new sales rep, you are probably trying to gauge whether he or she is going to be an asset to your team in the long term. Fortunately, there are some key signs to look out for. We’ll break it down into performance-based and character-based indicators of success. Performance-based Cold-calling activity. Sales success has a lot of components, but a big one is simply your activity levels. High activity levels (especially when noted consistently over time) are always a good sign. Sluggishness in the beginning may be due to your sales rep’s lack of familiarity with your products and services, but after the first couple of weeks, activity levels should be steady and consistent with your company’s expectations. Appointment-setting rate (# of appointments set/# of leads contacted). The ideal appointment-setting rate depends heavily on your industry, so be aware what your top sales reps are doing. Often, having a high ratio of appointments set depends on consistency of follow-up. Is your rep giving up after a couple of calls, or is she persisting until she gets her prospect on the phone? Lead follow-up time. When a new lead comes in, such as through the company website, how quickly is your new sales rep following up? If he acts right away, that’s a great sign. A […]

Signs that you are a Sales Perfectionist (and how to fix it)

by Shannon F. Sales is a field that requires a rapid response-rate, quick decision-making, and the ability to let the small stuff go. If you’re a perfectionist, you may struggle to generate the sheer volume of activity necessary to make your sales goal this year. The problem is, perfectionists can be deceptively imperfect, making them hard to recognize. They don’t all sort their paperclips by color or own a personal label-making machine. If you are like me (an admitted perfectionist) you might not ever bother to wash your tea cup, assuming the germs will be microwaved out on each subsequent use. That sure doesn’t sound like perfectionist behavior! So here are some signs to look for, and some ways to save yourself before you get bogged down by perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionists are highly self-critical. In sales, like in anything, you’ll have ups and downs in your personal performance. Having a bad day is something that rarely matters in the long run, but perfectionists tend to beat themselves up about their perceived shortcomings. This turns into time wasted on worrying. The fix: Strive for excellence, but be forgiving of your mistakes. Don’t take it to heart if you are having a “bad phone day” or you stumble during a demo. The more you hone your selling skills, the more consistent your performance will be. Perfectionists take rejection personally. Their feelings are hurt if someone is curt on the phone, and worse, they blame themselves for not achieving a more positive interaction. […]

3 Expensive Ways (Worth Every Penny) To Help Your Sales Reps Kill Their Goals

by Shannon F. There are many reasons why sales reps won’t make their goal this year, but it often boils down to time. After all, the more selling activity salespeople can accomplish in the day, the more appointments they can set and the more deals they can close. So not having time-saving processes in place means less activity, fewer appointments…you get the idea. Here are three investments you should make to speed up your sales team and help them surpass their goals this year. 1. New, faster computer. Everyone can recall their first computer–mine was a Compaq Presario the size of a small planet. But while PCs of decades past can be remembered fondly, they have no place on a salesperson’s desk. You’d be surprised how many sales reps are working on outdated machines; it’s a big problem, because slow computers kill productivity. If it takes your sales rep 30 seconds every time they want to log into their CRM or find a prospect on Linkedin, the day will quickly be consumed by wasted minutes. Today, salespeople must work at a frenetic pace to keep up with busy, hard-to-reach prospects. In fact, many reps are so overwhelmed by keeping up with existing clients that they don’t have time to set appointments with prospects and sign new clients. An expenditure of $500-$1000 per sales rep to equip your team with new computers that allow them to work faster is a small investment with a potentially huge return over the lifetime of […]

How not to micromanage

by Shannon F. It may not come as a surprise to you that micromanagers are born out of a shaky economy. When sales are not as good as they could be, managers don’t just blame external forces or poor sales rep performance; they blame themselves. Tough times, an urgent need to drive revenue, and the pinch of desperation are all fairly understandable reasons for tightening the reins and beginning to monitor your sales team’s activity more carefully. But don’t risk going too far; it’s harmful and counterproductive to get too immersed in the daily minutia, and your sales team will resent you for it. Here are some tips for letting go of your need for control. Listen to others. Micromanagers may come off as highly conscientious or even anxious, but at the heart of this personality is a touch of arrogance. If you’re a micromanager, you tend to think you are the only one capable of making the right decision or having a good idea—after all, you are the boss for a reason. But if you’re the only one who does the talking in your sales meetings, you are missing out on a diverse source of ideas and insight. Encourage your team to contribute their suggestions and solutions. You may find that someone has a better way of approaching a sales situation or overcoming an objection. Trust your sales team. Chances are that your team is not comprised entirely of newbies. If you have a group of proven professionals working […]

Are You a Micromanager?

by Shannon F. Being a micromanager, especially in a sales-related field, is the worst. Really. -You’ll sap productivity by limiting initiative and self-sufficiency. -You’ll back up the flow of both ideas and actions, since you insist on having control of every detail. -You’ll drive away great people by not giving them a chance to succeed on their own. -Ultimately, you will fail to maximize the revenue-driving potential of your sales team. -Also, people won’t like you. Check out our fun, useful* flow chart to determine if you—yes, you—are a micromanager. If you receive the bad news that you are (or are in danger of becoming) a micromanager, fear not. Coming next, we’ll tell you how to curb your destructive behavior, encourage sales rep accountability, and boost your team’s morale. *Disclaimer: flow chart may not be fun or useful to everyone.

Why Nerds Make Good Salespeople

by Shannon F. The stereotype of the successful salesperson is changing. A few years ago, you may have imagined making your next B2B purchase from an avid golfer with a chiseled jaw and a firm handshake. Maybe he or she excelled at schmoozing, had a bit of an ego, and used too much cologne. But B2B sales is evolving. Gen X and Y decision-makers are savvier consumers who tend to do a ton of research before buying. They don’t care if you wined, dined, or played 18 holes with them—if you can’t offer your unique insight into their business development needs, you’re useless. That’s where nerds are coming into power. Everyone wants to be a nerd. Today’s new breed of super-nerd is nothing like the socially awkward, taped-glasses-wearing nerd of yesteryear. (We’re not going to get into the nerds vs. geeks debate—there’s just too many gray areas.) Urban Dictionary offers hundreds of definitions of this social classification, but here’s a couple. Nerd: “A person who gains pleasure from amassing large quantities of knowledge about subjects often too detailed or complicated for most other people to be bothered with.” “A person with an inventive, intelligent, and or obsessive mind that strives to learn as much as they can about a subject(s) and becomes a leader in the study of it.” “The sexiest social class of them all.” Joking aside, it has become more desirable than ever to possess the skills and attributes of a nerd. Nerds have Insight sales skills You’re […]

What to look for when hiring B2B Salespeople

by Shannon F. Often, sales is treated as the type of job that anyone with average intelligence can jump into. But the truth is that B2B sales is a highly skilled profession, and hiring for the job can be a challenge. In our experience, excellent B2B salespeople with a lot of experience are hard to find, making it tough to build the team you need to drive revenue and develop your business. But even a newcomer to sales can display some of these promising characteristics: Quick thinking B2B Salespeople have to be flexible thinkers. They’re not just doing the same thing over and over again. They have to be able to think on their feet and respond to new situations every hour. They also have to be able to deviate from the script when necessary and make hundreds of small decisions each day about how to engage the prospect and respond to various challenges/needs. A salesperson who only feels comfortable sticking to a certain pitch may fall short in situations that require adaptability and a quick response. Sample interview question: Present the interviewee with a tough situation that puts them on the spot a little—for example, say, “Pretend I am your prospect. I just informed you that I’ve met with your direct competitor and I’m thinking about signing with them. What are you going to do?” Insight At InsightPRM, we encourage our clients to sell with insight. Unlike Solution Selling, where the prospect presents a problem and the salesperson sells […]

Your sales competition isn’t calling back.

by Shannon F. A frustrating experience Last fall, we tried to do something that should have been very easy but ended up being a two-week-long exercise in frustration: find a local vendor to fulfill our printing needs. We needed several thousand postcards immediately to send to contacts who we believed might be interested in InsightPRM. In addition to the initial postcard order, there was the likelihood that we would form a long-term relationship with the print shop and place a lot of orders with them in coming years—we were the perfect lead, right? The first print shop responded to our phone call—in fact, the owner answered the phone and mentioned that he really wanted the job, because business had been slow lately. But he never gave us the quote we requested. Only after several calls and emails from us did he finally send an estimate—for the cost of the mailing service only, not the actual printing costs! He never followed up to see if we had any questions about the estimate, at which point we would have told him it was wrong. The second print shop actually sent over a representative to our location (true story: she brought her own stash of organic sugar and demanded to be led to the coffee). But after that initial meeting, she didn’t get back to us with a quote. Months later, she called to berate us for going with her competition. “I don’t have time to sit around figuring out quotes and getting […]