Sales Assembly Line. Part 6. Why Salespeople Fail

Did your salespeople fail or did you?
The best salespeople are race cars. On a track they perform incredibly. The failure is that you have not had the patience or pain tolerance to engineer the car and put it on a precisely mapped track. You expect the salespeople to pick up your cues, suck up some brochures and go out and sell something that is fuzzy around the edges.
Salespeople are your internal clients 
They are the first to hear the pitch, ask hard questions and hear the answers, first to understand the pricing, the differentiators in the market, the implementation and servicing. They then transfer all this and find prospects. Prospects are a type of referrals
Salespeople are the first to buy your product. The first to become raving fans.
Commissions re a form of profit-sharing. The best salespeople need to make hundreds of thousands a year or else they will leave. Their first stop will be at your competition. If the best aren’t making enough and the best leave, you will wind up with low morale and a sales pool of adverse selection, the c players who can’t leave, they don’t have the job opportunities.
Sales Metrics
Many startups construct metrics with the same loose math that they use to determine pricing. Startups often also err by testosterone fuelled sales expectations. This is bad. All staffers, including salespeople need reality based metrics, not the optimistic numbers on a VC pitchdeck. How can you establish achievable metrics? Good question, glad I asked. A product has to be exactly articulated before it goes into the wild, salespeople should not be sent on a reconnaissance mission.
Salespeople have to become stakeholders and personally invested in achieving the company numbers, it has to become a large part of their identity. Metrics are very situational. When a company uses brute sales force the objective is not wholly to ‘close deals’, it is to gain visibility in the marketplace and get ‘looks’ at prospects. In that environment the metrics are loose and don’t need be rigidly enforced. As the company matures into the market, sales brute force are an inefficient allocation of resources, instead you want to focus on a baseline, ‘par’, productivity. Another example is in a recession a company can employ a strategy of sales brute force, in a more robust economy the company should attrit the lower performers, those slots can be refilled by higher quality salespeople and the new salespeople will have the benefit of legacy prospects to comb thru.
Salespeople will benchmark themselves against the lowest performer. To compensate for this the top performers have to be acknowledged in way the entire company is forcefully aware of it and goes ‘wow’. I don’t know the particulars of your company’s bank account, but the return on giving the top performers a quick 3 day vacation or a larger expense account to take other sales reps, prospects and clients out to extravagant lunches and dinners is exponential. The company is recalibrating the natural dynamic to benchmark against the lowest sales achievers by making the top performers an aspirational model, not just as a financial goal but as a vanity: ‘I am a successful person and other people recognize this about me’ 
The End?
This is a long essay that I have divided up into its component pieces:
The Cultural Shift
Define It or the Prospect Will
Exploiting the First Mover Advantage
Reverse Engineering a 300% Price Increase
Each Sales Office is a Franchise
Why Good Salespeople Fail
Why The CEO Should Not Be Selling
Intimacy is a Premium
Breeding Your Competitors
SDR’s. Million Dollar Solution. Hundred Dollar Problem

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