What are the 7 Signs of Sales Ageing?
At SerialTrainer7 I get to meet and work with lots of sales professionals and their managers. Often these managers will brief me on how their sales teams needs specific training in key areas such as presenting, sales process and negotiation to name a few. In more and more businesses however, I am meeting a new a brief. “The team have been selling for a long time and are starting to get stale” or “My team are losing their mojo and falling into bad habits,” or worse “My team have simply stopped going after sales, it is like they have forgotten how to sell or that they are not hungry any more.” I have determined that this is what I like to call ‘sales ageing’. Just us humans our skills and techniques can age over time and get dull from repetitive use.
How can I recognise that this is happening to my team, and what can I do about it?
This sales ageing process in natural, of course, and good sales managers recognise that it is going to happen and can utilize specific techniques to minimise the effect or even reverse the sales aging process. Imagine that. Reversing the effects of ageing!
Here are my seven signs of sales ageing and how to help fight those first signs.
- Milk Round. A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called ‘Sales Laziness. Just Doing the Milk Round.’ It was very popular and clearly demonstrates the first symptom of sales aging. It is a habit that is created by sales people who have been in the business for a long time and have become apathetic. They have lost their hunger and so start to only contact those clients that they are doing business with. There are lots of very informal conversations and meetings taking place with no real drive to win new business or to grow these clients further. In fact you would think that these clients were friends, not business clients. To fight this symptom challenge the sales team with incentives to bring in new business, create specific incentive days where this type of activity can spark their interest again. Get some of these sales people involved in the coaching of newer members of the team, so that they can teach them their well-honed skills and demonstrate how they can be effective. This can really motivate sales people especially when they get the feeling that they are passing on skills to the next generation.
- Email Reliance and Call Reluctance. There is a myth going about that clients these days only like to be contacted by email rather than the phone. Excuse my French, but that is bollocks. When I ask sales people how they know this, I often here that they have learned it from either the previous sales person, or that they have read it on a CRM note, or that they have read an article, probably written by a non sales person that this is the case and so have adopted the practice. I have also heard that other departments who sit with sales can moan about sales people being too noisy, so therefore it can create a sales office that has a library like atmosphere. I say shut the other people up and let sales make some noise. Sales people are great with other people, so encourage them to get on the phone and talk to clients. If necessary stop email contact during prime selling time as it hoovers massive amounts of time. In my 50 years on this earth, I still phone clients before any email contact is made; it is quicker, more effective and closes more sales.
- Reluctance to Acknowledge Social Selling. This is not the same as point number two. Social selling is a brilliant way to connect with potential or existing clients, a way to promote your clients to your network and engage with them on various platforms to build relationships and potential sell them a solution. It is also a way to promote testimonials on your business and yourself. Many salespeople who have been in sales for a long time, they may say that they do not like social media or that the business they work for does not allow employees to use social media. This is short sighted and frankly damaging to a business in todays global sales environment. Promote sales people writing blogs about the industry and posting them up on LinkedIn or posting great images of their clients and the business on Instagram. Oh and before you say that it cuts into selling time, it doesn’t, after all these can be created and cued up in advance using different software applications, and besides what else are they doing on a Friday afternoon?
- Resistance to Training. Many sales people who are sales ageing are resistant to sales training and further development. They often are of the opinion that training for them is just a waste of time and that they have heard it all before. Well that might be the case, but so what. Are they so arrogant as to believe they will not learn or be reminded of one new thing? A knife doesn’t stay sharp forever and needs constant sharpening to keep its edge, and this is done in the same way it was sharpened when it was created. Often sales trainers forget that when running courses, the inclusion of the experienced sales peoples techniques and skills as part of the training is very valuable and can make the training more effective. I hear many older and more experienced sales people coming away from my courses saying that I did not teach them how to do their job, that instead it was about being reminded of what they had forgotten and that they felt free to contribute their experience to the group. Not to mention that they are being trained by a trainer who actually still sells. That last point is very important.
- Spreadsheet Sales People. My personal bug bear are the sales people out their who either hide behind admin because they are too lazy to get on the phone, or that they are simply not great sales people and therefore in the wrong job. How much money are businesses losing because their sales teams are creating report after report, or filling in bloody spreadsheets? Sometimes it is not even the sales person’s fault; it is the sales manager. They insist that sales people generate these reports, or create a new presentation or sales proposal every time they need one. These sales managers are stopping sales people from selling. I hear a lot of sales people moaning about the volume of sales admin they have to do when all they want to do is sell. Of course the sales people who do not want to sell will happily take this on. Seriously, reevaluate what your sales people are spending time on. Why are they there again? That’s right to make money.
- No Place Like Home. When sales teams work well together and have that real spark of energy and sales hunger there is no better feeling. I have created many sales incentive days and team days where the sales teams have been like lightening. The dark side of course is that some sales teams become very comfortable together, become good friends and can become complacent. The office becomes a home from home. This creates sales ageing for sure. The team can get lazy and a general feeling of malaise can be sensed. A sales office should be noisy, energetic. As previously mentioned non-sales departments often complain about the noise sales people make, well did-dums people get over it, we make noise and we make money when we make noise. Move people around the office and generate noise, have music on get the place buzzing!
- Meaningless appraisals. If your sales people do not value their appraisals or performance reviews then this is a sure sign that the team is sales aging.Change the way you carry out the appraisals, instead of annually as an event, do it on the anniversary of the sales persons start date, or do it twice a year, or scrap them all together and do regular 1-2-1 coaching updates. Sales people need to feel valued and part of something, their appraisal documents should have objectives set for them for the forthcoming period, and these objectives should be relative to the sales managers strategy for the department and the business, so in a way the sales team’s appraisal form is their own personal sales strategy document. It should include specific client strategies and tactics and these should be time sensitive, so therefore during sales meetings these documents should be brought and kept alive. After all a dusty appraisal document sat in a drawer is as useful and relevant as a sales person who has lost their spark and started to sales age.
Have any of the seven signs of sales ageing resonated with you or your team? If so apply these sales anti-ageing solutions every day to restore their youthful sales glow. After all, you are worth it.
If your team needs sales training to renew their skills or to learn the latest effective and relevant sales processes, get in touch with us at SerialTrainer7.com. Thanks so much for reading.