Techniques for Boosting Productivity

It's a full-time job to inspire and motivate salespeople in order to maximize their contribution to the bottom line. There are many factors to inspirational leadership, but none more important than putting their interests ahead of your interests. The following represents several management techniques based on this guiding principle that have proven effective in enhancing productivity.

  • Give Written Assurance
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    Good salespeople need to radiate confidence. Once a decision has been made to hire a salesperson, give him or her a written agreement to sign that clearly outlines the job description, commission system and auto insurance requirements.

    Most salespeople want to know the ground rules for doing a good job, so spell out your expectations as performance standards. Include a description of what happens to commission on uncompleted projects if they were to leave your employment. Furnish an explanation why a reasonable non-compete clause is important to your firm. A written document eliminates surprises and establishes a foundation for mutual trust and open communication.
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  • Create a Sales Plan

    Good salespeople want to make good money. The owner/manager should develop an annual sales plan for salespeople to realize their income goal. For example, if one individual wants to earn $100,000, show him or her how may leads (first appointments), how many "quotes" (qualified leads), how many "closes" and what the closing percentage (number of sales divided by qualified leads) should be, as well as what the average sale must total to achieve this goal. This plan should be based upon historical data your firm has compiled.
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    The chart on above shows a sample plan where the commission program, based upon a defined % of the gross profit in each project, is the equivalent to 10% of the selling price.
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    This annual plan then must be converted to a monthly plan, so the salesperson knows his short-term goals to stay on track for the year. The monthly plan would be most realistic if it was leveled to what each month historically produced in the way of business. So, rather than making January's goal equal to $83,333 ($1,000,000 divided by 12 months), it is set at $47,000 because records over the last five years show that 4.7% of the company's sales have been generated in that month.
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    The plan should also provide for adequate training to support the salesperson in realizing his or her goals. Ask your salespeople what training they think they need, and once there is an agreement on the Annual Sales Plan, have the sales designer sign off on it.
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  • Develop or Acquire Organizational Tools
    Good salespeople want to make the best use of their time. According to Dale Carnegie, there are only two reasons why salespeople fail: (1) lack of motivation and (2) lack of time management skills. In the kitchen and bath industry, salespeople can lose valuable time trying to manage all of the details in putting a project together. The right kind of organizational tools can alleviate this burden and greatly enhance a salesperson's productivity. One such tool is the Project Profile Form a vehicle to inventory client needs, secure critical background data, determine equipment preferences, collect mechanical construction information, ascertain budgetary figures, etc.
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    Another is a Project Development Chart that helps salespeople schedule and track leads under development and sold projects in various stages of ordering and installation. Toward this end, TheKitchenPond has developed a software program (called Kitchen Manager 3.0) specifically for this industry.
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    Yet a third organizational device is a Revisions Checklist, which would be used during a client meeting to identify those details requiring a change and communicate to support staff which documents floorplan, elevation, perspective, cabinet order, specs, or contract require revisions.
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  • Visit the Competition
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    Good salespeople need to handle objections smoothly. To be really effective, your salespeople need to know how competitors are serving the marketplace.
    Schedule salespeople to individually visit competitors at least twice a year. Instruct them to stop by a competitor on a day when they are in the area. They should identify themselves from your company and say: "I am calling on a few nearby accounts today and heard some nice things about your showroom. Do you mind if I look around?"
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    Most people won't object to this approach, particularly if your salesperson says,
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    "You're welcome to stop by our showroom any time you're in the area."
    Showroom visits may last only 15-20 minutes, but you can learn an awful lot in that time. Give your salespeople a form to evaluate the competition on a scale of 0-4 in specific areas visibility, professional appearance, product mix, unique selling proposition, etc. It should be done in their car immediately following the visitation.
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    Once a second or third salesperson has stopped by the same business over a 4-6 week period, a group evaluation should be done and a professional sales strategy agreed upon.
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    A written strategy on file, it can be referenced during a quick break by any salesperson when confronted by a comparison shopper. It's a little like being able to review your "crib notes" in school before taking a final exam. It gives you the extra knowledge and burst of confidence to go back in and "ace the test" with this prospect.
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