Give Salespeople Tools They Need to Sell

Eating Salad with a Spoon

toolboxLast week I found myself in my office eating my lunch salad with a spoon. Have you ever tried to eat salad with a spoon? Probably not, I’m sure.

But, if you did try, you’d see it’s pretty damn hard to do! You need to stab salad with a fork.

I was in this predicament because, quite frankly, I was too lazy to go back to the deli to get a fork. Now I am here to testify that you can’t eat soup with a fork, you can’t eat peas with a knife and you definitely can’t eat salad with a spoon. Simply put, you need the right tool ready at the table to enjoy your meal.

Similarly, salespeople need the right tools in their jobs to enjoy closing those deals.

I was thinking as I was eating (it was a much longer lunch than I thought it would be) about an interview just the day before with a young saleswoman who was looking to leave her current employer. She hadn’t been there very long, so I was very skeptical about her reasons for wanting to make a change so soon.

She explained that she doubted she could be successful at her company since there was no “infrastructure” to guarantee her success. “What do you mean by infrastructure?” I asked. She went on to explain that she had

  • no database of leads or prospects (cold, hot or otherwise!);
  • very little training by her manager and no regularly scheduled sales meetings;
  • a very mediocre company website which did not proactively sell their product or capture leads; and,
  • no marketing support for sales materials, presentations or complex proposals.

In other words, she didn’t have the tools to get the job done, even though her annual quota started from “day one.” She had been successful in her past two jobs and didn’t want to fail, but all of the signs indicated that failing was a real possibility.

Tools To Get The Job Done

Companies wouldn’t hire an accountant and give him an abacus; they wouldn’t hire an engineer and give her a slide-rule, so why would you hire a salesperson and give them a desk and a phone and expect the job to get done?

Every job in the organization requires the right tools to get it done. For sales, here are the bare essentials:

  • Lead Generation: Good salespeople will always be prospecting for leads but you need to provide leads as well. There should be a formally established lead generation program.
  • Marketing Support: Salespeople need promotional material, professional presentations and support for complex proposals at the end of the sales cycle. Marketing and sales should work hand-in-hand on these efforts.
  • Effective Website: Your website must be a sales tool, in addition to whatever else you need to communicate. Make sure your products are described effectively (read “sizzle”) and that you can capture leads from the site.
  • Ongoing Training: I have written about this many times before. There is NOTHING, simply nothing, more effective in growing the sales of your company than a sales force that is professionally trained and constantly monitored for performance.

It’s a “Two Step”

Remember, hiring the right salesperson is just the first step towards meeting your sales goals. Giving salespeople the tools they need to get the job done is the critical second step towards guaranteeing their success, and in turn, yours!

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