One of the most challenging transitions for a business owner is removing himself or herself from the selling process. There are several reasons one might want to do so:
1. To allow for succession
2. Increase the value of the business to sell
3. Financial security of the business in case something happens to the owner
4. Allow more freedom for the owner
I have seen many setbacks during a transition, and it should be easy to step in and sell again. But remember the goal and keep the payoff in mind.
If you are like many owners who sell, most of your systems and processes are in your head. The scripts are in your head and you just sell. Looking back at our first salesperson, I feel bad for the lack of systems and processes we had in place.
So what is next?
Determine what is success. What are the measurable results? Create boundaries. What are you OK with sales doing and what are you not? Allow for success. How will you know if they are successful after three months or six months?
Become aware of what makes you successful. Become a conscious competent. What is a conscious competent? Think about when you started driving a stick shift for the first time. You would have to turn off the radio, listen to the engine, consciously shift gears, and look at the tachometer to see when to shift again. After a while, you were able to do it and not think about it. When you start teaching, you have to be conscious about each step. Get a coach to help if it is easier to get it out of your head.
Create a sales process, a system that can be followed over and over. Include all aspects of the call. Allow for creative interpretation of their style with the process; do not allow veering from the process. Create a process for feedback.
Create scripts so that you can train others. When you are in a sales call, what are the questions clients ask that you rattle off the answers in your head? These are answers that others may not know. Can you clarify how you would like them to answer? What are the questions frequently asked of you? Write them down and then the responses. What are technical issues to look for on the call, for example, code issues? Create questions by job type.
Team sell. Have them shadow you then debrief the call. Start shadowing them and then debrief after the meeting. Continue to shadow each other even after they start becoming successful. You will both learn from it. I had to learn not to “save” the call in the moment.
Create a system for tracking or follow up if you don’t have one. Either in-house or from software. Have a weekly process to follow up on your sales team on each appointment.
Create a training schedule. After the initial hiring, there should be on-boarding so they can learn everything about your company. Then have regular ongoing training, covering sales. Hire a coach to train. We all have “head trash” or our beliefs of things; create training around what is getting in our way of being successful.
Know your numbers. What percent of sales are referrals? What is the closing ratio for a referred lead versus a nonreferred lead? How many appointments would they need to have based on your average job size and the average close ratio to sell what they would need to sell to be successful? Monitor it. Twelve-month trailing reports are helpful to watch for trends.
How do you have to change? It is different to be an implementer than a mentor. What do you need to do to help these people succeed? How can you help them?
Include ongoing sales training. We all have head trash getting in our way of selling, and theirs is going to be different than yours. How can you learn from each other?
Decide on a compensation model. Will this be paid as a percentage of sale or gross profit? When will you pay out the commission? Often it could be split upon selling and upon completion to have them take ownership of setting good expectations. Do you have a budget? Often, owners who sell don’t pay themselves commission, therefore you will have to budget for a sales commission. Will you have a base draw? You will need to budget for overhead and the burden of their salary including vacation and benefits.
Finally, what are your fears about hiring salespeople? They will miss something on pricing or expectations, and you will need to create a process of learning and feedback.
You can learn from their mistakes and train all of the other and future sales consultants so it won’t happen again. PR
Craig Durosko is the founder of Sun Design, a design/build firm located in McLean and Burke, Va., that is celebrating its 26th year in business.The company has won more than 90 design and service awards and was recently named one of the “Best Places to Work” in Virginia for the second year in a row. Durosko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.