ID: How do you think well-trained salespeople help companies
stay alive – and even grow – in the recent recession years?
George Athan, Chief Strategist, MindStorm Strate-
gic Consulting: The fastest way to grow a business
and dramatically increase revenues and boost prof-
its is by training the sales team to be more effec-
tive. There are only three ways to grow a business
and everything else is just an extension of these
three ways: 1) Get more customers, 2) Get customers to increase
the amount of money they spend with you on each transaction,
and 3) Get customers to make purchases more frequently. A well
trained sales person will be very effective at doing all three.
Steve Hartkopf, Managing Partner at Aligned Mar-
keting, LLC: Distributor management and industri-
al customers agree that well-trained salespeople
are important to their long-term success. These
individuals are experts in one field or another;
think cutting tools or safety. As such, they add
more value than an average salesperson and that value is critical
during harsh economic times, when every decision seems to carry
the weight of survival.
Tom Metcalf, President, TeleNotes: Well-trained
ID: In what ways can distributors encourage loyalty and longevity
salespeople are not affected by swings in the
economy, current political environments, or even
corporate trends or initiatives. Top-level sales exec-
utives do not need quotas or incentives, although
they will always accept, and even hunt down,
bonus pay for exceeding corporate sales goals. These individuals
are driven to achievement all on their own.
in their salespeople? How can they get them to stay at the com-
pany for the long haul?
Athan: Salespeople want to be recognized for their contribution
to the company and appreciated. If you get a good feeling when
someone “liked” your comment on social media, you can imagine
what a mention or some type of acknowledgement would do by
the boss. Management’s first thought is to throw money to reward
salespeople, but that is not always fulfilling. It can make you feel
cheap inside, almost like you sold yourself. To encourage loyalty
and longevity, make the salesperson feel a true sense of owner-
ship and desire to continue the company’s mission.
Hartkopf: It’s often missed but it’s not rocket science: people want
to be respected and appreciated. Stated another way: being a
good person makes it easier to be a good manager. Staying true
to your values is the best way I’ve seen to retain people. Money
will always lure some folks away, but no company can pay everyone top-dollar, so don’t try.
Metcalf: One of the greatest ways to keep great salespeople is
to hire and train great sales managers. Be careful that you don’t
take your top performing salesperson and make him or her your
sales manager. That will work sometimes, however, more often
than not, the skill set and personality profile of an effective sales
manager is quite different from that of a top performing sales
ID: What tools can distributors offer salespeople to make them
more efficient and more effective?
Athan: Vital to a distributor’s business is constant sales training.
I can’t stress this enough. You should be training on sales skills
and product knowledge. If a company can’t afford a professional
training company, then they must create an in-house program
but it must be consistent. Also, it is very important to teach time
management strategies and force salespeople to follow them. We
can double a sales team’s production just by teaching them how to
be more productive.
Hartkopf: It seems to me there’s a need in the industry for sales
training that is delivered over time and includes sales skills such
as conducting a needs assessment, how to ask probing questions,
leading a training session, presentation skills, negotiations, when
to close an order, how to manage your time or ask for an appointment, etc.
Metcalf: Time. What activities are your salespeople doing that
Q&A With The Experts
What makes a good salesperson? Industrial Distribution went straight to the source and asked the experts
to weigh in on the topic.