I love my Macbook Pro. It’s four years old which means I’ve had it for three years longer than any Windows laptop I ever owned. That said, it was beginning to underperform, slow down, and choke. Yesterday, at around 4 AM, I decided to regroup and deal with those issues. First, I evaluated the problem, and identified the biggest memory hogs and performance sapping programs. Next I downloaded Memory Clean and Disk Doctor to free up some space and memory. Then I downloaded the Mac-specific apps for QuickBooks, Wunderlist, Calendar Pro, and MailTab Pro so that I wouldn’t have to keep my biggest memory hog, Chrome, always running with all four of those cloud applications permanently open in the browser. Then I deleted about 10,000 sent items from Outlook, repaired the machine’s permissions, restarted the laptop, and it was performing to expectations again. I was excited about what I had accomplished in such a short time!
That process isn’t very different from what executives must do with an underperforming sales force.
- Evaluate the Sales Force to identify the real reasons for the underperformance, to what degree the issues are causing problems, and which individual underperformers can be saved. Identify the changes that need to be made under the hood to bring in more new business, increase the win rates, shorten the sales cycle, and determine the increase in performance that will come as a result.
- Install the most useful and helpful sales applications, pipeline management and analytics to drive performance.
- Optimize the Sales Process so that it is milestone-centric, properly sequenced, timed and weighted to make the forecasts more reliable.
- Coach up the sales management team so that they have more of an impact when they coach their salespeople.
- Thoroughly train the sales force on new business development, sales process, consultative selling, qualifying, selling value, differentiation, closing and relationship-building.
- Upgrade the sales force by developing a sales-specific recruiting process that includes predictive sales selection through a sales-specific candidate assessment. This must eliminate the guesswork, and instead, consistently result in each new hire being a strong salesperson who will succeed in your business.
I was able to identify the problems with my laptop, optimize it and get it performing well again in just a few hours. However, it will take several months and probably longer to accomplish the same thing with your sales force. At four years, my laptop had already far exceeded my expectations for performance and longevity. Your sales force will produce and eventually meet and exceed your expectations for many years to come, and certainly for a lot longer than four years.
The biggest difference between the laptop and the sales force is not the time it takes to achieve improvement. It’s the time it takes to recognize the limitations and refuse to accept those limitations or say, “It is what it is.” Don’t be overwhelmed by the changes that must be made, do bring in a trusted outside expert to evaluate, guide, help and train, and don’t overthink it.
The cost? That’s easy! How much are you wasting on your worst salesperson? You already have the money to make the required improvements. Less is nearly always more.