I love to hear good news from my clients!
In this case study, XYZ Company is a small payroll service organization. Their sales numbers were in a two year slide. Their product offering is good and improving, and their price point is competitive. What was the problem? How did they improve sales results?
Their sales team hadn’t had any coaching or training or re-training in three years! There was no KPI monitoring, or accountability for deals that didn’t close. Today, they have 2 sales reps instead of 4, and they are consistently selling at twice the overall rate of last year at this same time, and the numbers keep going up. Two people selling twice as much as four people did a year ago… Pretty good! They paid Sales Dynamo less than half of what one of those reps was costing them for six weeks, and things have stayed on track for over 8 months. Needless to say, XYZ Company is nothing but thrilled.
How did XYZ Company let it get this bad?
The management was too willing to accept hard work instead of results. Let’s be clear: most businesses don’t make any money on hard work; they only make money on closed business. The payroll management team was expert in payroll, employee benefits, HR law, state and federal tax laws, and much more related to their business. But like most companies, they focused the training of their sales reps on product and service knowledge. They never talked about sales skills!
Bad habits and good skills
Being expert in payroll and HR takes enormous time and dedication. Management didn’t have any time left to become expert in sales team development, too. They hired us to bridge the gap. We evaluated the sales team, and discovered some bad habits, some outdated practices, and some weak skills. There were also flashes of brilliance and good skills. We needed to improve sales results for consistent high performance. Does this mean the sales reps weren’t really trying?
NO! Everybody develops bad habits over time. Everybody sharpens some skills while others rust. Managing a business without sales coaching is like trying to run a sports team without a coach. You hire talented guys, give them good equipment, schedule games and attend them, and at the end of the season wonder why the team isn’t playing well. Even the best need some objective guidance periodically to keep them sharp. It’s the only way to improve results. Coaches help you train your most important skills to defeat the next specific opposing team. And they help you create an effective game plan for every team you meet. That’s what XYZ Company was lacking. We created it for them in our coaching curriculum. 8 months later, it’s still paying off.
For more about developing an effective sales plan, read In With a Plan, Out With a Sale.
Maintaining a Coaching Model
We went into XYZ Company and performed our regular evaluation. We created a plan to get them where they needed to be. And we developed a coaching curriculum to help management keep sales focused, on track, and building their skills. XYZ Company had us implement the plan for 6 weeks, and then took over on their own. What was the biggest change for management?
Maintaining a coaching mentality was new for them. They believed in hiring good people, and getting out of the way. That is the recipe for stagnation in any discipline. Now, they run weekly sales meetings, and weekly individual coaching sessions that keep the sales reps focused forward. They quickly realized the answer to higher sales wasn’t hiring more sales reps – in fact they let two go – but just making the existing reps more effective. The reps are making a lot more money, and so is the company. And they’re saving a fortune in all the pay and benefits they no longer pay to the less effective reps.
To learn more about keeping your team’s skills sharp, read 10 Rules For Developmental Sales Meetings.
Management didn’t become a group of sales experts in 6 weeks. But they learned what skills were important, and what Key Performance Indicators matter. They learned how to keep a sales rep striving to do their best work. And they learned that some reps didn’t want to be held accountable. Not every sales pro will accept strong management, but most welcome it. It ensures that they’ll keep making a good living with a company that respects what they do. Turnover drops, and company loyalty increases. That’s a plan for long-term success.