Over the past month, I ran into similar situations with two separate clients. Quite frankly, these situations happen all too often with many companies and individual salespeople. Rather than refer to this as a “problem,” I’ve chosen to go with “opportunity.” Both of these clients’ businesses are growing well above the norm, yet they could be dramatically improved with zero increase in costs with an effective pipeline in place.
Whenever salespeople are wearing multiple hats, there is a danger to sales. That is, whatever that nonsales hat is, when hours are spent wearing it, the sales hat is not being worn, and opportunities are being squandered.
Let’s take the example of an industry I spent a couple decades in, the mortgage industry. The typical compensation for salespeople in that business is 100% commission only. The vast majority of loans close in the last week of the month. As such, many, if not most, of the salespeople will spend the last week of the month babysitting their deals to the finish line so they can get paid for them the next pay period. The operations team isn’t typically looking for such babysitting, and often, the salespeople are more hindrance than help. That’s bad enough, but the real issue is not being in the field generating new business! By the end of the month, most of the pipeline has been closed and wiped out, and now the salesperson needs to hustle in the next 2–3 weeks and play catch up to rebuild the pipe. Then, the end of month arrives, and the circus arrives in town again with this insanity repeating itself.
If the salesperson were to wear their “primary” hat and stay in the field originating new business, both the company and the salesperson would benefit financially in a big way. An added bonus comes into play when the competitors are acting in a like fashion, leaving the doors wide open for access to the prospects during that end of month period of time.
Those regularly being penalized by taking such an approach are lawyers and accountants. Many are tasked with delivering the work for their clients and bringing new business in. Most would prefer doing the delivery and not selling. Often, when ripe with a solid pipeline of business, many will actually “hide” behind the “excuse” of having to work on the work product, and that’s why they are not “selling.” Then, the work dries up, and the panic selling approach appears again.
The key, then, is consistency. The pipeline of each salesperson needs to be inspected at least once a month and can be even better when inspected weekly. Keeping track of the hours planned and spent in the field procuring business on a salesperson-by-salesperson basis is essential, as well. All of this should be detailed out in the company’s sales playbook. Accountability is a must. In my personal life, my business life, and my endurance sports life, I have a total of 14 “coaches” keeping me focused and holding me accountable.
Who is doing that in your organization? Both for you and for the sales team?