The sales trap and how to get out of it

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

This month’s story is about how to get out of the sales trap. It has no single customer as hero but is a composite of many customers, who were all trapped by being unable to grow sales and have found a way out of it.

It’s a common problem. The business has grown because the founder or one of the Directors is great at selling the product or service. However, they just can’t hire anyone else who can do it as well. The trap goes something like this:

• First hire someone who has had “sales” in their title previously
• Then explain the product and market
• Give them a target, a car, a laptop and a mobile phone
• Cross your fingers
• Get increasingly worried over the next 6 months
• Fire them
• Repeat

I constantly meet business owners who have gone through this 6 or 7 times. I always suggest to them that perhaps it isn’t the people being hired that are the problem…

If they don’t take offence then I get the chance to explain that I don’t have a magic bullet. Hiring staff is difficult to get right. With salespeople it just becomes obvious that it’s going wrong sooner, and in numbers.

However, systemising your business (and your sales process, and your hiring) can move the odds of success in your favour. Here is a different approach:

• Analyse who and what succeeds in sales in your business
• Be crystal-clear about your niche, problem and proposition
• Define your selling process down to script and question level
• Implement a sales management process supported by effective tools
• Write a job description
• Define an induction process that includes training, coaching and regular one-to-ones
• Set ramp-up targets
• Follow a recruitment process that is designed to reject and that includes vision and values
• Take a long-term view

If you would like to explore systemisation further, or wish to discuss any aspect of business improvement, please get in touch: [email protected]



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