The main reason businesses fail is because they are managed based on opinions rather than facts. The main reason salespeople fail is because they are managed based on opinions rather than facts.
I will go to the grave believing that people, in general, are good. Nobody accepts a job wanting or expecting to fail. People want to succeed. But to do so, they need training, coaching, and positive reinforcement for a job well done. When people are having a difficult time, they also need training, coaching, and constructive feedback on how they can improve.
Too often owners and managers tell people what they need to do to improve but not how to improve. Simply telling people what they’re doing wrong leads a person to feel degraded, belittled, and lost.
It is vitally important that people are managed, coached, and trained based on factual information—statistics. Statistics provide facts. If someone’s sales are below store average, telling him he needs to sell more doesn’t help, unless you tell him how he can sell more. If a salesperson’s add-ons are below average, telling her to sell more add-ons won’t improve performance. Telling her how to sell more add-ons will give her the tools she needs to improve performance.
Additionally, facts and statistics give a store owner or sales manager the information needed to provide a positive work environment. Salespeople are motivated by recognition presented both visually and verbally. The No. 1 complaint I hear from salespeople about the companies they work for is that they don’t receive enough positive reinforcement. The lack of positive reinforcement, in most organizations, results from not using statistics to offer praise and positive reinforcement. Saying to someone, “Great job last week, you beat your sales goal by 25 percent” is far more meaningful than saying, “I think you’re doing OK, you looked busy last week.”
The primary numbers, from a salesperson’s productivity perspective, are sales, sales to goal, add-ons as a dollar percentage of total sales, closing ratio, average sale, and sales per hour. With these numbers, a store owner or sales manager can provide their people with feedback that will produce a positive workplace. If the numbers show areas of weakness, they’ll also provide the information an owner or manager needs to help people improve.
Great coaches are not great critics. Great coaches are great teachers. If you don’t know how to help people improve, then you need to get the knowledge to pass on to your people. Create an environment of personal growth and development, and your salespeople and your store will be successful.
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