Are some salespeople lazy? Or do they just need better leadership from sales management? As you could gather from the title of this post, I believe the key to solving what appears to be a “lazy” sales team is usually in the sales manager’s hands. If you’re having issues with some or all of your sales team, you need to get to the bottom of it, before it starts hurting your bottom line. Even if you’re an independent agent who doesn’t yet have a sales team, you should read this, because one day, you’ll need to know it.
Lazy Versus Lack of Sales Management
While it’s true that lazy people do exist — and some of those people end up in sales — most salespeople are in sales to sell and sell well. I like to assume that most salespeople out there have good intentions. They just need help and guidance to be the best seller they can. Here’s what you can do as a sales manager to help.
1. Clarify Why Policies and Procedures Are Important
When you hire a new sales agent, you probably feel pretty confident you’ve hired a smart, self-starter, results-oriented individual who’s ready to go. That’s probably true, but that doesn’t mean you should let them figure it all out on their own. In that situation, they’re probably going to miss out on some important details.
So lay things out the right way in the beginning. Tell your new hires why they need to call 100 prospects every morning. Explain why using the auto dialer is crucial and how it helps them reach their personal goals and helps the business reach its goals. Explain big picture goals, hierarchies, and procedures.
2. Explain Performance Expectations
It’s very difficult to achieve an objective or reach a goal if you’re not clear on what those benchmarks are. You want to start off a new hire with a clear explanation of what performance expectations are expected of them. The fact is that some salespeople who appear to be lazy on the job are meeting their own expectations that have been set in the absence of clear direction from management.
Set the bar for performance for your agents so that they can work towards your goals, not their own. If they still have problems, you can then begin coaching them on more effective ways to reach the goals you’ve set.
3. Set the Right Number of Realistic Expectations
Of course, you have to be realistic when setting those initial expectations. It’s natural for priorities to shift with time, however, avoid a “crisis-of-the-week” mentality. Too many sales outfits take this approach, shifting sales expectations and priorities from one week to the next.
I can tell you that doesn’t usually work out well for these organizations in the long run. Salespeople are only human. Faced with so many conflicting directives, they tend to cling to a particular set of priorities that seem most reasonable to them. While this may make sense for the individual, it can come off as laziness to management even though it’s not.
4. Provide Coaching and Training
Even though you’ve hired smart, ready-to-go salespeople, you should expect to spend time training them in your methods and procedures upfront, as well as offering coaching over time as needed.
Don’t just let them do what they know how to do, make sure they’re doing what’s going to be most effective with your products and services and with your prospects. You have to make sure your agents know how to qualify your prospects, how to build rapport, how to sell the benefits, and how to close. If they don’t, but they’re going through the motions, they’re going to appear lazy.
5. Correct Ineffective Work Habits
Assuming you’ve outline clear expectations and given realistic marching orders, you should expect them to be followed. If you find your team doing ineffective work or taking shortcuts, it’s your job as sales manager to intervene.
Not that shortcuts are always bad. There’s nothing wrong with working smarter. The problem comes when sales agents take a shortcut that doesn’t move the needle forward and may actually cost you sales. When you see something going wrong, let your agent know in a constructive way, redirecting them to follow your coaching and procedures.
6. Hire the Right Salespeople
Lastly, it’s crucial to hire the right people for your team. The wrong people will struggle and may appear lazy or incompetent. But there’s no reason to heap too much judgement on those hires, it’s simply that they’re not right for the job. You may be surprised years down the road when they find a better calling. But for your purposes, take ownership of making a bad hire and let them go, so that they can find a better fit for themselves and you can find a winning go-getter to take their place.
So if you think you may have a lazy sales staff, first look at your management practices. Lazy or haphazard management often leads to a lazy sales staff. A robust management leadership can turn the issue of lazy sales people around, boosting sales and the quality of your business.
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