Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Helping the Discouraged Sales Rep

Housing is beginning to show some real signs of coming back, the DOW Jones is hitting record highs, your modular home factory is running every day and quotes and orders are both at the highest they’ve been in 5 years.

But something else has shown up, the discouraged sales rep. Even though others on the sales team are seeing an upturn in sales, one or more reps seem to be falling behind.

The reality is that when their sales efforts don’t seem to be producing quotes and sales, even the most experienced sales reps tend to become discouraged. They spend more and more time struggling to meet their sales quotas and working less and less efficiently.

Feeling increasingly powerless in that pursuit, the modular home sales rep may begin to press their builders for sales and prospect for new builders in effective ways.  For instance, they may arrange plant tours and formal presentations for builders that have not even been qualified or who haven’t yet agreed they need modular construction. They allow prospective builders to milk them for information, including pricing, without any commitment from the builder and even worse, they fail to defend the company’s margin and make unprofitable sales in order to achieve sales quotas.

Another source of discouragement is assigned territories. Put yourself in this situation. There are five sales reps in your company. Four have sales territories that include part the areas hit by Hurricane Sandy last fall and your territory is West Virginia. That would discourage even the most upbeat sales rep. All the other reps’ phones are ringing off the hook with quotes from their builders and your builders are just waking up from a long winter’s nap.

So what’s the bottom line for the sales manager? Sales never result efficiently and with maximum revenue unless the sales process is continually and closely managed. But before the sales process can be managed, it must be manageable.

The task for the modular factory sales manager is to create a method to look at each sales rep’s efforts and determine if those efforts are what the company expects. Getting a huge number of quotes from post ‘Sandy’ New Jersey and only closing a small number of them will use up the factory’s resources quicker and at higher costs than the WV rep that has formed lasting a ‘total sales solution’ with the builder.

As mentioned in previous articles, sales reps can no longer be order takers, today they must be the builder’s marketing expert, business plan monitor, the builder’s eyes in the factory and lastly a resource for sales techniques. “Total Sales Solution”

From the sales manager’s perspective, developing the total solution means developing a comprehensive, formal, realistic and step-by-step outline of what sales reps are expected to do. This outline includes the activities and calls they must make, the relationships they should establish with their builders, the documentation they should use, the issues they must discuss and solve with both their builders and prospects and tangible goals they must reach.

Such a strategy can lead to a higher level of success with the builder base but sadly, over 70% of company upper management and owners said that their sales managers were neither adequately skilled to take this step nor were focused on the solution instead of just hounding their sales reps for quotes and sales.

Although every factory sales manager appreciates the importance of  “Total Sales Solution”, surprisingly few invest the time and energy required to develop a formal sales process – a process that is at once detailed and resilient enough to guide the sales reps and permit effective management of their efforts.

As a consequence, left to their own devices, modular sales reps can easily become discouraged, and performance levels dip.

If a sales manager thinks that his/her only job is to get sales, then it might be time for management to either begin working with the sales manager to implement a total sales system or look for the talent outside from outside.

If you need help evaluating you present sales system, email the Modcoach today and we can get started.

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