The 3 Percent Non-SolutionWe all know the 80%-20% rule; well Its time someone threw the 80% under The bus. Yep your sales person probably is NOT doing their job and I will tell you why. Everyone is familiar with who the 1 percenters are, so the title of this blog may require a little explanation I’m talking about sales people. Yep,those individuals that are on the “front line” that act as the “front person” of your organization.The individuals that are “supposedly” trained to relate the corporate or retail brand platform,to present new products and to answer all those questions that buyers may have prior to themmaking a purchase and to solve problems and make doing business “easy and profitable”?I picked the title 3% because it’s an average of what salespeople make for their services. I know,the commission can range from 1% to 10%, but in my past life as a CMO of severalmanufacturers the average was around 3%.I’ve heard over the years from many retailers that they would rather have the manufacturers
forgo the need of a sales person and let them pocket their commission and spend it in waysthat work more effectively for them…The retailers.Now I can see why!We are all familiar with the 80-20 rule and I’m sure I won’t be making any new friends off thisRANT, but I’m going to talk about the 80%. You know who I’m talking about, the“representative-salesperson” that does virtually nothing to earn their commission by notperforming their assigned job description.To be a good salesperson, there are three basic rules:1. When someone inquires about doing (more) business with you….answer the call2. When a potential customer has a question about your products and services….answer thecall.3. When a customer has a problem with a product or service….answer the callRecently I have embarked on a new business where I have to work daily with sales people andmanagers. I say daily, but in reality it’s me doing all the work. I ask for help, I try to quantifybusiness processes and programs and I get……”Crickets”! Yep that sound you hear when you’reout there all alone. I’ve even reduced myself to begging at times and I still get…..”Crickets”!I am quite frankly shocked and dismayed at the lack of response I get from these individuals. Inan economy that is shaky at best, many manufacturers and retailers are not making their salesgoals, losing money and more, there seems to be a new consensus that doingnothing and being comfortable with that is acceptable.When I was in sales, I was NEVER comfortable, because to me, getting comfortable meant Icould easily be ambushed. I NEVER took an order or relationship with my customer for granted.I had a responsibility to my family and my employer to always be the best I could be and thatmeant I had to hustle all the time. As President Abraham Lincoln said: Things may come to those who wait, but only those things left by those who hustle”So here’s my dilemma.
I need information for my business to succeed. I need support for my business to succeed. I need help from those suppliers to insure the information on the products and services I transmit to my buyers is available and accurate. I email, I call on the phone, I copy everyone, well maybe not the Pope, and I get….you guessed it ….”Crickets”.So I guess I have to wonder if all the doom and gloom I hearabout the sales in our industry is just misleading. I say that because the salespeople and theirmanagers, usually a bellwether of a business’s success or failure, don’t seem to be engaged in“Doing More Business”.So how do you measure a salesperson’s success? The answer is simple, at least as it pertains tomy personal and professional expectations. "Treat others as you would like to be treated,"thatsthe golden rule. Isn’t this the golden rule of sales but on steroids? After all, it’s not about you-the salesperson, it’s about the commitment you made when you took the job to be the best youcan be for the company and stakeholders that are paying you to meet these simpleexpectations.So, what is so hard about these very basic communication requirements that basically define asalesperson’s role? Let me think out loud on this question.1. “I’m too busy trying to find new pictures to show my retail customers”.Really…have you heard of the internet and email attachments?2. “I’m too busy filling out territory projections and goals”.Really, how can you have a projection, much less a goal when you don’t answer new businessopportunities?3. “Marketing isnt getting me the materials I need to complete the task”.Really, this is so old, for if you can’t figure out how to use the basic functions of Microsoft Officeto improvise, sell buggy whips.
4. “Customer Service doesnt get me the answers I need”.This is so old, like you, if people arent getting the questions answered in a timely and efficientmanner, replace them. Consumers today have NO patience. Get used to it or become evenmore irrelevantOk, I could go on and on and I’m sure there’s a golf game in the equation somewhere.Yes, I’m a very frustrated customer; because this attitude is pervasive across virtually everycompany I’ve come in contact with…I use the word contact lightly, since I’m doing most of thecontacting.Now as I mentioned, this is an 80% problem. There are great salespeople out there…the20%. I’m friends with many of them and I highly respect their work ethic and more. And, I’mhappy to say, they are extremely successful because they go far beyond what their title stateson their business card.Yes, I’m a very frustrated customer; because this attitude is pervasive across virtually everycompany I’ve come in contact with…I use the word contact lightly, since I’m doing most of thecontacting.Now as I mentioned, this is an 80% problem. There are great salespeople out there…the20%. I’m friends with many of them and I highly respect their work ethic and more. And, I’mhappy to say, they are extremely successful because they go far beyond what their title stateson their business card.Now, allow me to outline a list of simple goals and expectations for the 80% and for theExecutives that pay them. A simple lesson called a “20 Point Job Description”. 1.) Generate and qualify leads Yep, this requires actually interacting with people in a timely manner. A timely manner is less than 24 hours 2.) Source and develop client referrals. This should be easy if you perform
admirably at your job, not so much if you don’t.3.) Prepare sales action plans and strategies.Ouch, there’s that word strategy. Showing catalog sheet pictures is NOT a strategy. I’ll bet 99%of sales people have no clue what is happening in the wired world. I know this because theindividuals I work with have no clue how to use an “intranet”, they don’t understand how evenuse email, if they even have one…for if they did know, they’d prove it by responding, wouldn’tthey?4.) Schedule sales activity.This requires actions to be taken in steps 1-3, so if you can’t master them just schedule a lunchand make small talk and waste everyone’s time.5.) Develop and maintain sales and promotional materials.OMG, this will require knowledge of what is and isn’t working in the industry. To do this, oneneeds to acquire market intelligence and knowledge and you don’t get paid a commission to dothis.6.) Plan and conduct marketing activities.Yep, you don’t get paid a commission for this either. It’s part of your job to be sure that you andyour stakeholders are the best you can be. The lack of this commitment is one of the mainreasons brands in our business are “pedestrian at best”. Why, because all you have to do iscopy someone else’s lousy work and call it a day, rather than really researching and learninghow other brands derived success from taking risks.7.) Make sales calls to new and existing clients.This probably doesn’t happen enough because your salesperson is very comfortable with thebusiness they have and the income they’ve generated “for themselves”. Yep, I see this all thetime and it’s a “me” vs. “us” platform that will get ambushed by someone who is notcomfortable and is hungry8.) Develop and make presentations of company products and services to current andpotential clients.OH NO, more preparation, more research, and more time invested for the future business VS.The Today Commissiongratification.9.) Negotiate with clients.
This is a really hard goal to obtain, especially when you don’t return emails and phone calls.10.) Develop sales proposals.Again, see #1-8 and focus on #911.) Present sales contracts.Ouch there are those nasty numbers again - #1-#9 above12.) Conduct product trainingThis isn’t showing up with new catalog pictures people. You can do that through the mail,email…or better yet, on their website. Again, this is another one of those non-commissionedactivities that is so dreaded…but needed.13.) Respond to sales inquiries and concerns by phone, electronically or in person.NO COMMENT14.) Ensure customer service satisfaction and good client relationships.Again No Comment15.) Follow up on sales activity.This doesn’t mean your CSR does all the work while you’re out and about. Every order shouldhave some sort of “personal” acknowledgement…even if it’s just a Thank you!16.) Perform quality checks on product and service delivery.OH NO, more customer interaction and account management17.) Monitor and report on sales activities and follow up for management.I’d sure like to do this for the salespeople I have to deal with…it wouldn’t bepretty….(salesperson meet bus)…, but then again management should already know thesepeople are failing, since all they need to do is look at the numbers18.) Conduct market research and surveys.OH NO, more work that doesn’t pay a commission, so there for ignore it and have a strategygoing forward of HOPE
19.) Participate in sales events.Ya think?20.) Monitor competitors, market conditions and product developmentSee #3, #5, #6, #8, #12 & #18 _____________________________________________________Look Familiar In summary, you can tell I’m not a happy camper but that should not matter as much as what I’ve been RANTING about here….the complete abandonment and disregard of the basic fundamentals of sales and service. There should be a Facebook, a Yelp and more social platforms for our industry where customers like mecan express their frustrations and problems about the salespeople, companies and services “forthe world” to see. I bet if there was, someone would wake up and appreciate why we as anindustry are failing in so many ways and it always starts and ends with the “human factor”.In every company I’ve worked for, Executive Management has always been highly critical oftheir sales force. Now that I’m on the receiving side of the equation, I have to empathize withmany of those criticisms. So, in todays’ economy and competitive “selling”world, comfortable is the new word for extinction. As for those salespeople that have a hardtime performing the basic functions of their job description for my business, I say look in theYellow Pages and pick your replacement…or better yet, Google it…. it’s faster, more efficientand so today. If you’re not going to find your replacement, you can bet I WILL! Can You Hear Me Now? So, in summation, here’s what I used to say to my kids when they were young and in denial as to their behaviors and lack of actions; If everyone says you have a tail, maybe you should turn around and take a look Can you hear me now?
____________________________________________________________ Comments? Questions? Contact Bill Napier, Napier Marketing Group, Inc. email@example.com 608-539-3005 or visit www.social4retail.com About Bill Napier: About Bill Napier: Bill is a specialist in creating, guiding and deployingsuccessful marketing B2B & B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing strategies with theweb and social media. He has worked in the home furnishings industry for over 12 years, as the chief marketing officer for some of the industrys largest manufacturers and creating some of the largest promotions ever launched within the industry.