Setting Expectations For Your Salespeople
Mike is the new sales manager at Distributor’s ‘R’ Us. He’s got six salespeople … all great people according to the president of the company. His initial impressions are very positive. The salespeople are very positive and making all the right noises about their commitment to growing sales, taking it to the next level, kicking butt, etc., etc. The weeks go by but sales remain stagnant. There is no evidence of any of the promised sales growth. In fact there have been several losses in distribution to the competition. So what’s the problem? Why isn’t Mike seeing the growth that he has been led to believe would happen? Several reasons … all related to the “happy ears” syndrome. Mike bought into the dream of increased sales by a great sales team without doing the groundwork necessary to make it happen. Maybe the salespeople are all great people like the president said but they are not making their numbers. Wishing and hoping won’t make it happen. There has to be a process in place to insure the objectives are met. Forget for the moment that he may not even have the right team to do the job. He is now stuck with them until he can figure out all the hidden weaknesses, and determine who is trainable and who is not.
The first step in the process is to establish clearly defined expectations. These fall into several categories: sales and distribution goals, activities and behaviors. He begins by clarifying what the company president expects from the sales team. Ideally this is in writing or, at the very least, confirmed in an email. Once he’s got the big picture expectations nailed down he’s got to break it down by salesperson. He must establish individual sales and distribution goals and then get their agreement on an action plan. While the sales goals are non-negotiable there is some wriggle room in the action plan. We know that only the customer has the power to actually buy so we can’t really hold the salesperson accountable for the results. We can only hold them accountable for their activities and their behaviors … the things that they can control. That’s why it’s important to get their agreement on what they will do to generate sales. It’s their plan and their commitment. Next blog will deal with the difference between activities and behaviors and setting expectations for each of them.