Do You have the Right Team to Pull the Wagon up the Hill?

Your business sucks. Your sales are nowhere near where they need to be. Your market share is declining. Yet, the economy is strong, and, overall your industry is doing very well. You’re just not getting your share. It’s very frustrating.

You’ve taken a good hard look at your products. You’ve examined how your company goes to market. Your prices are competitive. You haven’t found anything to explain the soft sales. What’s the problem?

Now you’re starting to have some self-doubts. You’ve always thought you were a good sales manager but you’re beginning to wonder. Maybe you need to make some changes? Maybe you’re missing something?

You provide ongoing product training. You keep your salespeople up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry. You run weekly sales training, and these include role playing. Your sales meetings are interactive and motivational. You participate in a sales management mastermind group. You bounce ideas off your peers on a regular basis. Despite all this, sales still aren’t what they should be.

The bottom line: You’re being outsold, and you don’t know what to do about it.

There’s an old Irish proverb, roughly translated says:

“You can’t make a racehorse out of a donkey.”

No amount of training or coaching will transform a salesperson who won’t sell into a sales superstar. As a friend of mine says, “that dog won’t hunt!” This is not meant to be insulting to either dogs or people. Most of my dogs loved the thrill of the chase. They were always ready to chase rabbits or balls. If it moved, they chased it. Not our new dog Nicky. When I threw a ball for him. He looked at it, and then looked at me as if to say, “you want the ball, you fetch it.”

Everyone can be successful, but not everyone can be a great surgeon or movie star, or pianist or inventor. Not everyone can hit a home run in the major leagues.

Not everybody belongs in sales. There’s a huge difference between people who can sell and people who will sell. In a competitive environment, an environment where your company is not the only player, you must have salespeople who will sell. The right salespeople will make the numbers even if the competition has better prices, better terms or fancier features and benefits.

Order takers, on the other hand, will run back to mama asking for a better deal. They’ll make excuses. They’ll blame your price, your product, your competition. Meanwhile the customer has bought from someone else.

One of the first things all successful sales managers do is ensuring they have the right salespeople. They make sure they have the right horses to pull the wagon up the hill … salespeople who will sell when things get tough. That’s fundamental. Sure, you need to look at all the other variables as well. But, unless you start with the right salespeople, you’ll struggle to succeed.

Stop beating yourself up. Stop trying to second guess your activities. Instead, evaluate your sales team, and make sure you have the right team to get you where you want to go. As Jim Collins wrote in his classic book, Good to Great:
“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

Then you can drive the bus anywhere. You’ll consistently achieve the sales and profits your company deserves.

Oliver Connolly