Re-Engage Your Reps

By Mike Philie
In June 8, 2010

Like almost every team, you have a group of sales people
that can be categorized into several groups. Top performers execute day in day
out without much intervention needed by the management team. In fact, your key
objective is to simply run interference for them so that they won’t get slowed
down. Then you have the journeyman role players. They do a great job at
representing your business and are reliable, but they probably won’t set the
world on fire. They will do anything that you ask but most likely will not have
the initiative to try anything new on their own. Finally, you have the
non-performers. I’m not talking about the brand new reps; these reps are
industry savvy and have been selling for years. For their own reasons, they are
disengaged and bringing down the total sales effort of the group.

This last group may be experiencing self-doubt as they
struggle with new technology as well as clients who have modified the rules of
engagement. Which comes first for this group, complacency or self-doubt? I’m
not sure. It could be a skills issue in that they are having trouble selling
the whole “solutions” concept or perhaps in understanding how clients want to
communicate today. Maybe they are out chasing jobs and without anything else,
are getting beat up with price issues. Fear and anxiety are often components of
both change and the necessity of learning new skills.

What’s their sales process look like? Is it make the pitch
and wait for the emails to come with print specs? If it is and the job specs
aren’t coming in, these reps can become paralyzed trying to determine their
next best step to get into the account.

I hear these sales rep situations daily and would recommend
that you take the time to understand why your rep is not as effective as the
others or perhaps as much as they once were. This can be a simple meeting where
you work to uncover the situation and offer your guidance. It’s probably not a
“your sales have tanked and you’re a bum” speech. Your goal is to determine
whether or not you want to fix this or just eliminate the problem and it’s more
likely to have these components in the meeting:

Determine if they are still in the right job and
interested in making this work for them and you. First things first, they need
to want to be helped;

Where are they stuck? What skills or assistance
could they use to jump-start their activity? Focus on the problem, not the

Decide how you can best help them to turn this
situation around with a focus on the activities needed to be successful;

Create a time-line for actions and a way to report
the progress on a regular basis;

During this process if there is no buy-in from
the rep or you get the impression that they are not taking any responsibility
for their situation, it may be the time to “ask for the check…they’re done.” 

Make no mistake; this is hard work for the
management team. It’s trying to make the best out of what you have. It is
however a small investment in time that will help you make the best decision
for your business. Now, if you have a line of qualified, top performing sales
reps outside your doorstep waiting for an opportunity to work for you then you
may not choose to go down this path and focus more on getting the performers
onto your team and the non-performers off the team. 

Mike Philie

Mike works with printing companies that are not satisfied with their sales and business development performance, and are looking to get objective advice and strategic direction on how to improve the results of their business. His engagements can range from providing input on the overall sales strategy to building business development pipelines while training the processes of “selling” in today’s marketplace. Mike quickly establishes himself as a trusted resource and advisor to the owners and senior staff of his client companies through his personal involvement, and very quietly and effectively becomes an extension of their staff.

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