In lieu of being fired from my job for a lack of sales performance when I have consistently been a top performer, I thought I would take some time to provide some advice to failing businesses:
- Do not expect more from employees than you do of yourself.
If your staff are showing up to work earlier than you every single day, and are required to wait until you get settled to respond to a client and facilitate a sale, chances are you are creating the tone for a lacklustre, uninspired and demotivating atmosphere. This is bad.
If your staff have to go on an Easter egg hunt to find you each time your assistance is required, and no chocolate is provided, it is not only not fun, it is also wasted time. Time kills deals.
If you happen to have different standards depending on your mood, please don’t be surprised when an employee gets upset because they forgot that walking into your office while you were speaking with another employee was End of The World. At the very least, remind them it is Friday at 3:02pm rather than Thursday at 1:45pm where of course it is fine, come on in!
- Have clearly defined goals and expectations.
“Why aren’t you selling anything?” Is not as specific as, “I would like you to commit to 30 sales calls today.” I can’t believe I have to write this.
A sales board with stickers and a bonus structure that remains the same in July as it does in December is fine. No communication about individual targets and expectations is not. Don’t expect people to cross off your goals and exceed your expectations when you a) either don’t have any or b) forgot how to communicate at an extremely basic level.
To say walk-ins are amateur plays, and as-a-matter-of-factly cry: “you have a database, use it!” Is a hard truth. But look at that, feeling! Until of course, you, in the next 10 minutes, watch Sales staff on the floor playing with their phones while talking about how bored they are and intervene to — talk about classic cars. Ok. The bar is high here.
- Know strengths versus weaknesses and provide feedback.
If someone sucks on the phone, I don’t know, tell them they suck on the phone. If they take too long to close deals, tell them they take too long to close deals. And here’s a thought: maybe try to mentor instead of mock. I heard that’s a great way to manage.
If someone is great with product knowledge, have that person talk to the rest of the team about an area of their expertise when it’s slow, instead of taking no initiative at all.
Thinking about firing a long-term, loyal, good employee because there are areas they aren’t great in? Communicate it. Your strengths are this, your weaknesses are that. Give them a time frame for results. Imagine that?! People knowing where they stand? Tangible goals? Shit. That’s stuff successful businesses are made out of.
- Value your employees and they will always go that extra mile.
Don’t value them and they will still go that extra mile in another direction. Not every business is archaic now.
Remember that dude who took half his clientele with him?
Valued employees drive sales, and in most instances, if sales are suffering I can assure you: there’s more you can do than the actual nothing you are doing. Are you going to keep firing people when your sales decrease again because you vehemently don’t want to be proactive but expect everyone else to be? It’s your business. People will inevitably care just as much as you do.
- Team building should not be an afterthought.
Sales is a stressful environment. It is also, contrary to popular belief, a team environment. Did you know when people get along they tend to be happier? Did you know when employees are happy, they do better at their work? I’m shocked, too. To run a successful business, it is imperative to create a positive environment. You don’t have to diffuse every single disagreement, duh. But a wing night? A thanks for all you do dinner? Employees spending time together out of the grind where there is time to connect on another level may be worth exploring especially if there is a gigantic disconnect that everyone else can see but you. Try to prevent bonding over a shared dissatisfaction on how your business is run and instead over a shared satisfaction on how it is run.
- Be open to employees suggestions, they are your front-line and see a lot of what you don’t.
We do it this way because it’s always been done this way, means you will stay this way. Of course, there is the possibility, you could also sink instead of maintain the mediocrity that comes from mediocre thinking. Have you looked at what the other successful businesses are doing that you don’t? That’s your first problem.
- Word-of-mouth is still the most important aspect of your business. Employees are the most trusted source.
When people see a lot of turn over at a particular business, they notice it. You have a major advantage as a sales business because it is known to be difficult for most to make a career out of. They will chalk it down to that sometimes. Until they find out that great employee is still in the business, just not with you. And if you treat your employees like garbage, it is a sure reflection on how you value your customers. An employee may sound disgruntled, but those clients who have worked with them personally will definitely know that isn’t the case because of the professionalism and care that *your employee* treated them with. Front-line, remember?
- Invest in your business or risk inevitable decline.
Sales people should be relied on to drive business. That’s part of what they are there for. But if that is your advertising tactic, you may want to reconsider. It is hard to network when you live in the office and it is also hard to study PR, marketing and promotion to drive in people when you are competing on un-level playing fields. Your employees are limited when they cannot provide for their clients what Joe Schmoe down the road can.
This for every business, failing or successful: ***TRANSPARENCY IN PAY SHOULD BE A REQUIREMENT AND NOT A PRIVILEGE.*** Ah, that feels better.
- If you don’t promote a work-life balance, lower your expectations drastically.
How effectively do you think burned-out, over-worked and under-appreciated employees work? About as effectively as using your teeth to open a beer. It can work, but for a limited time until that tooth falls out. I know from experience.
- Recognize your business is a direct reflection of your active or inactive involvement.
If you want to passively observe from the sidelines and make judgement calls without actively communicating or asking questions, chances are you are making major uniformed decisions. It’s like playing roulette, you may land on the winning number here and there but eventually, you will ultimately lose.
However, if want to take ownership of your business and be involved, using the suggestions from above, you will most likely flourish.
If you choose the former, I encourage you to continue your firing spree while doing the bare minimum. You may just find after everyone else is gone, it is you who is the common denominator. I’ll take that bet.