Why Your Sales Force Isn’t Working

These are some of the reasons your sales force isn’t working.

Most people who work from home don’t “work” from home.

More and more salespeople no longer commute to an office to work. But that doesn’t mean they are “working” from home. It just means that they’re home.

There are people who are disciplined enough to work from home, but they are the minority. Most people don’t do as much work as they could—or should—when they are working from home. It’s easier for most people to buckle down when they are in an office environment, and when there are other people around.

Many people need this environment. Wishing it were otherwise doesn’t change anything. When I talk to struggling sales managers, the ones having problems almost always have a sales force working from home.

The browser invites distractions.

It’s wonderful that so much of the software we use is browser-based. But it is also horrible, and it’s detrimental to salespeople. It invites distractions.

There is no greater distraction than email. If there is a close second, it’s social media. And I am not talking about LinkedIn, the most useful social site for salespeople. I am talking about Facebook, perhaps the least useful site for quota-carrying salespeople.

It’s too easy to click the bookmark and launch Facebook. Or ESPN. Or Politico. Or Engadget. It’s too easy to click a link and find yourself down the rabbit hole, a place where no deals are done.

There is too little accountability.

Some sales managers are afraid of micromanaging their workforce. Even more don’t really know how to hold their sales force accountable for the activity and the outcomes for which the salespeople are responsible. Even more are content to believe their salespeople are doing what they should be doing because some salespeople tell a good story when it comes to the opportunities they are working (they’re salespeople, after all).

Without accountability for activity and outcomes, your results will never be what they could be. And you won’t only being failing your company; you’ll also be failing the salespeople by allowing them to turn in something less than their best performance.

Your goals are impotent.

It’s important to make the number. But that goal isn’t as meaningful as it could be if it had a little help.

Purpose is more potent. Meaning is important. Growth is important, and I don’t mean the company’s growth, I’m talking about the individual salesperson’s growth.

People want to know that what they are doing is making a difference. They want to know that they are getting better, gaining new skills, and becoming more valuable. And they want to be recognized for doing these things.

You don’t score points by focusing on the scoreboard. You score points by playing the game. You are coaching the game. How well you coach determines the score. Telling people you need 48 points by itself isn’t going to work.

Without the bullpen, there is little transfer of knowledge.

We are back to working at home. Where salespeople are all alone, left to their own devices, and far away from the leadership, their managers, and their peers. They’re far away from the conversations being had, and so they are absorbing nothing through osmosis—the way we have handed down a lot of sales knowledge for more than a century.

The conversation you have with one salesperson is just that. It’s a conversation with one salesperson. The other people on your team heard nothing. Later on, you can tell them the story, but it isn’t the same as having been there, listening in on the conversation in real-time.

Some of the tools help create a virtual bullpen. But most managers steer clear of having “too many meetings,” fearing that their salespeople will be off the field too long (something they would worry less about were they better at holding people accountable).

To get your sales force working again, eliminate these reasons as much as you possibly can.

Filed under: Sales 3.0

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