How can I help an experienced sales person regain his interest in the job?
It sounds like you have someone who is just going through the motions. That can be deadly for the career of a sales person, as well as detrimental to the company.
One of the challenges of a career in sales arises out of one of the unique fringe benefits of being a sales person. Few professions offer the degree of freedom that comes with the job of the field sales person. Sales people have the opportunity to decide what they do with almost every minute of every day. Freedom!
However, with that freedom comes a great responsibility to make good decisions. It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenges to the job of the sales person. That’s why so many sales managers concern themselves with “motivating” sales people. If the sales person isn’t motivated to do as well as he/she can, then he naturally defaults to an uninspired, reactive mode of decision-making. And that brings us to the question at hand. If a sales person has lost interest, he/she is not motivated, and that means that he’ll default to reactive, “fill-in-the-day with unimportant stuff” mode. And that means reduced sales production for the sales person and for the company.
Before you rush to an intervention, first determine how big an issue this is. If the sales person is profitable and productive that’s one thing. If he isn’t, then that is another.
The best way to do that is to use Kahle’s Kalculation, an objective, fair measurement of the productivity of a sales person. You can download a free white paper that explains the concept and provides a line-by-line formula for creating the calculation. Click here to review it.
If that analysis leads you to believe that you ought to intervene with this sales person, then here are some options for you to consider.
- It may be that the sales person is experiencing some adversity in his personal life that has caused him to lose interest in the job. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to help him to realize that, and develop a plan to rectify it. Have lunch with him, probe into the issues, and see if you can uncover the cause of the problem.
- It may be that the challenge has gone out of the job. So, put some challenge back into it. Sit down with the sales person and create a set of performance goals that will stretch the sales person and cause him to push beyond his comfort zones to attain them. Set some motivating rewards for the attainment of those goals.
Another way to put some challenge back into the job is to make a significant change in the accounts for which he is responsible. Trade half his accounts with another territory, thereby forcing him to learn the new customers and stretching him out of his comfort zones.
- Another approach is to find some responsibilities for this sales person above and beyond just selling to his customers. You may want to bring him into decisions about new products, or have him help interview prospective sales people, or solicit his opinion on key moves that the company is considering. If you can find some contribution he can make to the company above and beyond the sales dollars, you’ll make him feel like a more valuable part of the company.
- Finally, it may be the sales person doesn’t realize the extent nor the seriousness of his problem. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with him. Clearly identify the problem and the consequences of it for him and the company. Then work with him to develop a specific plan to resolve the issue. Finally, meet with him regularly to assess his progress and to hold him accountable.
Which of these approaches works best for you depends on your knowledge of this person. Choose the approach that feels best. Good luck. (QA-SM-24)
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