My Sales Team Are Good At What They Do, But Only A Small Percentage Are Skilled To Win And
Manage Large Deals (Lesson 6)

Trying to understand why some salespeople overperform and others underperform when they’ve had comparable experience and training is one of those things that can drive you batty as a sales manager. The reality is, there are simply so many variables between human beings, and unfortunately there is no litmus test that will ever tell when you’ve landed upon the correct answer why one rep is doing better than another.

It’s difficult to answer to the people above you when you’re not exactly sure why things are clicking with some salespeople and not others, especially when it’s your reputation and, in all reality, employment on the line if you can’t figure things out and continue to hit benchmarks and grow the sales.

Sometimes, you’re stuck asking yourself very difficult questions. If your CEO says that he expects every person on your sales team to land at least one $3 million deal per year, yet only half the team is doing it, there probably isn’t one answer why the others can’t.

Let’s say you’ve got 10 salespeople and they’re all landing the $100,000 deals, but only five have achieved the $3 million mark. Is there something in common about the other five? Are they the newest to the team? Were they trained differently? Do they share certain personality traits not among the $3 million achievers?

Is it possible to train the other half of the team to score the big deals? It really depends on the organization, its culture, the product and resources available for training. I wish there was something magical about turning a non-performing salesperson around, but there isn’t. You work with the individual to understand their strengths and weaknesses and hope they figure out how to fix the weaknesses.

There really isn’t anything different about trying to improve a rep who is failing at multimillion-dollar deals or one who is failing at real estate, automobile sales or retail. They need to pick up new skills, work on it, and either achieve better results or move on.

Encouraging Personal Growth

As a sales manager, when I was interviewing a prospective candidate or working with a sales rep to assess why they were failing, I tried to establish one common denominator that often was a tell-tale sign of their future success.

It came down to whether or not I felt the person in front of me had poor or little commitment to personal development.

You’ll have the savants who come along that can land deals all day long and have their own unique style you couldn’t teach if you tried, but the rest of us who have been salespeople need to continually work toward getting better and adjusting to a changing world.

If you’re not developing your skills as a salesperson, you’re not only going to remain stuck at your current level, you’re going to be left behind by those people who are constantly working to get better.

Think about it from another point of view. The oldest salespeople still out there may have started their career corresponding via typewriter and traditional mail. Along the way, they had to adjust to computers, fax machines, and later, email. 

Those who decided they weren’t going to go along with the development of technology were left behind, no matter how fantastic their sales may have been in 1973. This is the same for anyone who has worked in an office setting over the last four or five decades. You either adjusted, adapted or were left behind.

How many people on your sales team can have conversations about the art of negotiations, psychology of buyers and trends in communication? Being on top of those subjects may only increase their bottom line by 5%, but if the CEO has charged you with seeing a 5% growth annually with your sales team, isn’t it worth it?

We’ve all stumbled at one point or another, but the attitude of the successful salesperson (and sales manager) is that you pick yourself up, figure out what went wrong, and if it’s not readily obvious, you do what it takes to learn.

For me, commitment to personal development is the hallmark of a great salesperson and sales manager.