Tag Archive | "performance"

A Winning Strategy for Closing More Business

Let’s face reality. Every day, dealers are overwhelmed by salespeople pitching everything from car washes to dealer management systems. Agents selling F&I products are everywhere, in towns of all sizes, pounding on doors and offering products, training and even free money to do business with them. What sets you apart? Why should they speak with you? This could be a two-day class, but I only have 1,000 words, so let’s get right to it.

In my view, the first decision each of us in this business has to make is this: Are we providing products or solutions? It is a simple question, and most of us would say the latter. However, in many cases, when we get in front of someone, we pull out a pitch book and begin launching into features and benefits and — even more deadly — price comparisons to our competitors. We have no idea what the dealer needs or how we could help, yet we get into a pitch as though we are taking surveys at the mall. So what differentiates you from the many who fail? Here are two things you can do today:

  1. Have a plan to get the full picture of what is happening at the dealership. You should have done pre-planning and homework, maybe even a referral, and met with lower-level managers to understand what’s happening at the store, what’s working and what can improve. Where are they doing well and where are the gaps? Then your goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to do an analysis of the dealership and lay out a plan for increasing production and profitability.
  2. Training has to be a part of any real plan for change. Entire articles are written on how difficult change is (check out John Kotter material) and how hard habits are to break (just check your New Year’s resolution list). You need to be a difference-maker for your customers and create lasting, positive change that produces tangible results.

Here’s my process for accomplishing the goal of closing more dealers and increasing sales.

Pre-Call Planning

As a former sales, F&I and leadership trainer, I know that it takes hours of preparation for every hour of presentation. That’s the only way to be the best and deliver the best product to your audience. The same goes for the one to two minutes you may get in front of a dealer that will determine if you get an audience to go more in-depth. Do your homework. Start with their website, look for what type of inventory selection they have, how long they have been in business, what charities they support and so on. Google the dealer and look at the Web and news results for insight.

The measurement is this: If you stand in front of a mirror and give your two-minute elevator pitch tailored to this dealer, would you want to meet with you? And you must be ready for the reflex objections you’ll get, such as “I’m happy with my current provider.” Have at least three word-tracks prepared to deal specifically with that objection and show the dealer you’re worthy of his or her time.

Income Analysis Tool

Many providers have a tool for you to measure the productivity of a dealership and report back on the gaps and next steps for creating additional revenue by filling those gaps. Whether you call it a “profit gap analysis,” “dealership needs analysis” or something else equally witty, your first goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to meet with his team and identify the opportunities.

There will always be gaps. Why? Because no business is perfect and we all lose focus at times. So the dealer knows you’ll find areas her team should improve on. The real question is, do you have implementable answers for her store and the skills to make them happen? If not, she’ll say thanks and then take your presentation to their current provider to implement the changes needed.

Targeted Presentation

The next step is to schedule a meeting with the dealer and present your findings. This should be a presentation that leads to the two or three key findings from your analysis and your recommendations for how to fix them resulting in additional bottom-line profit to the dealer.

It’s important that the dealer sees you as a credible professional who understands and can address their needs. This comes across not only in your story but how you present your findings and by relating examples of where you have successfully implemented similar processes before. Don’t just present, ask questions, engage your audience and go deep with the dealer to gain agreement and refine your recommendations.

Close and Kickoff

Arguably, the most critical step is to kick off the new account properly. Spend the time necessary in the store so that, after the kick-off, everyone in the dealership knows you and sees you as a member of their team. Invite yourself to sales meetings, save-a-deal meetings and management meetings. Bring in some pizza after the shop closes and hold a fixed ops meeting. From service to used cars and the general office to the F&I office, you are an added value that makes all of them more effective by the skills you bring to the store.

Bringing It Home

Years ago, I was taught that there is a big difference between problems and needs: Needs require action; problems do not. There is an essential skill to transitioning a problem to a need in a dealer’s mind. For example, a problem might be slow used-car inventory turn and the cause could be the wrong or un-prepped inventory, sales staff skills, or maybe the used-car manager has a bias for sports cars in a truck market.

You must show the dealer the financial impact of where they are today, where they could be and, in many cases, what looked like a minor issue can become a need that requires action. These points may not relate directly to your product, but they can still add to your personal value proposition.

Does this approach take longer than just making a pitch? Yes and no. But I guarantee that, the better you are at presenting your unique value proposition and establishing yourself as a credible consultant, the more business you’ll close with dealers who become long-term clients.

So good selling!



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Gates, Gladwell, Cain, and More: 17 Presentation Secrets From Superb TED Talks

While captivating an audience is an ability that takes years to develop, there are some simple ways to instantly improve your speaking skills.

The following are simple tips for preparing, practicing, and rapidly improving your presentation skills, reports Inc. 

And as a bonus, each tip includes a link to an awesome TED Talk. Not only do you get to see great speakers in action, you can broaden your knowledge too:

1. Always Give the Audience Something to Take Home

Always provide something specific the audience can do almost immediately. No matter how inspiring your message, every audience appreciates learning a tangible way they can actually apply what they’ve learned to their own lives.

Inspiration is great, but application is everything: Never be afraid to say, “Tonight, think of an employee who is really struggling… and then tomorrow, do (this) and (this) to try to rescue them.”

2. Don’t Wait to Answer Questions

If a question pops up in the middle of your presentation, that’s awesome: Someone is listening! So seize the opportunity. If you would have addressed the point in a later slide, skip ahead. (If you’ve practiced skipping around, it won’t throw you.)

The best presentations feel like conversations, even if one-sided…so never ignore the opportunity to foster that sense of interaction. Never do anything to disengage your audience.

3. Ask a Question Even You Can’t Answer

Asking questions to engage the audience often feels forced. Instead ask a question you know the audience can’t answer and then say, “That’s OK. I can’t either.” Explain why you can’t, and then talk about what you do know. Most speakers have all the answers.

The fact that you don’t–and are willing to admit it–not only humanizes you but makes the audience pay greater attention to what you do know.

4. Fuel Up Wisely

Let’s start with some preparation tips. Dopamine and epinephrine help regulate mental alertness. Both come from tyrosine, an amino acid found in proteins. So make sure to include protein in the meal you eat before you need to be at your best.

And don’t wait until the last minute. When you’re really nervous, the last thing you may want to do is eat.

5. Burn Off Some Cortisol

Cortisol is secreted by your adrenal glands when you’re anxious or stressed. High levels of cortisol limit your creativity and your ability to process complex information; when you’re buzzed on cortisol, it’s almost impossible to read and react to the room.

The easiest way to burn off cortisol is to exercise. Work out before you leave for work, take a walk at lunch, or hit the gym before a speaking engagement. (If you’ve ever felt more grounded after slogging through a solid workout, you now know why.)

6. Develop Two Contingency Plans

If you’re like me, “what if?” is your biggest source of anxiety: What if your PowerPoint presentation fails, someone constantly interrupts, or your opening falls flat? Pick two of your biggest fears and create contingency plans. What will you do if the projector fails? What will you do if the meeting runs long and you only have a few minutes to speak?

The effort won’t be wasted, because the more you think through different scenarios, the better you can think on your feet if something truly unexpected occurs.

7. Create a Pre-Show Ritual

Superstitions are an attempt to “control” something we’re afraid of. (Lucky socks don’t make an athlete perform better.) Instead of creating a superstition, create a routine that helps center you emotionally. Walk the room ahead of time to check sight lines. Check microphone levels. Run through your presentation at the site to ensure it’s ready to go.

Pick things to do that are actually beneficial and do them every time. You’ll find comfort in the familiar–and confidence, too.

8. Always Have a Secondary Goal

Say you’re speaking to a civic group on behalf of a charity and you realize your presentation is falling flat. In response, people usually either try too hard or basically give up. If your primary goal is to land a contract and you can tell you won’t succeed, shift to planting the seeds for another attempt down the road.

If you see you won’t get what you really want, ask what can you accomplish? Then, when the room doesn’t go your way, you can stay positive, focused, and on top of your speaking game.

9. Harness the Power of Genuine Emotion

Now let’s look at unusual ways to instantly improve your presentations. Many speakers tell self-deprecating stories, but simply admitting a mistake is a waste if you only use it to highlight how far you’ve come. Instead, tell a story and let your emotions show. If you were sad, say so. If you cried, say so. If you felt remorse, let it show.

When you share genuine feelings, you create an immediate and lasting connection with the audience. Emotion trumps speaking skills every time.

10. Find Something the Audience Doesn’t Know

I’ve never heard someone say, “I was at this presentation the other day, and the guy’s Gantt chart was amazing!” I have heard someone say, “Did you know when you blush the lining of your stomach also turns red?”

Find a surprising fact or an unusual analogy that relates to your topic. Audiences love to cock their heads and think, “Really? Wow….”

11. Always Benefit; Never Sell

Most business people assume they should capitalize on a speaking engagement to promote a product or service, win new clients, and build a wider network. Don’t. Thinking in terms of sales only adds additional pressure to what is already a stressful situation. Put all your focus on ensuring the audience will benefit from what you say; never try to accomplish more than one thing.

When you help people make their professional or personal lives better, you’ve done all the selling you’ll need to do.

12. Never Make Excuses

Due to insecurity, many speakers open with an excuse: “I didn’t get much time to prepare…” or “I’m not very good at this….” Excuses won’t make your audience cut you any slack, but they will make people think, “Then why are you wasting my time?”

Do what you need to do to ensure you don’t need to make excuses.

13. Keep Your Slides Simple…

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: Make your font size double the average age of your audience. Roughly speaking, that means your fonts will be between 60 and 80 points. If you need to fit more words on a slide, that means you haven’t tightened your message.

14. …And Never Read Your Slides

Your audience should be able to almost instantly scan your slides–if they have to actually read, you might lose them. And you’ll definitely lose them if you read to them. Your slides should accentuate your points; they should never be the point.

15. Focus on Earning the Audience’s Attention

Now let’s look at a few things to immediately start doing. Instead of playing the “turn off your mobile devices” game, because no one will (and you just look stodgy), focus on earning their complete attention. Make your presentation so interesting, so entertaining, and so inspiring that people can’t help but pay attention.

It’s not the audience’s job to listen; it’s your job to make them want to listen.

16. Use the Power of Repetition

Your audience probably hears about half of what you say…and then they filter thatthrough their own perspectives. So create a structure that allows you to repeat and reinforce key points. First explain a point, then give examples of how that point can be applied, and at the end provide audience action steps they can take based on that point.

Since no one can remember everything you say, what you repeat has a much greater chance of being remembered–and being acted upon. So repeat away!

17. Never Run Long

If you have 30 minutes, take 25. If you have an hour, take 50. Always respect your audience’s time and end early. As a bonus, that forces you to hone your presentation–and to prepare to shift gears if your presentation takes an unexpected turn.

Finish early and ask if anyone has questions. Or invite them to see you after the presentation. But never run long…because all the good will you built up could be lost.

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5 Things Fighter Pilots Know About Performance Under Pressure

Feel the fear. Do it anyways.

We’ve all heard that saying. But it’s kind of different coming from Carey Lohrenz (above), one of the first women to fly the Navy’s F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, reported Inc.

In her time as a fighter pilot, Lohrenz flew missions at the speed of sound. She landed her plane on aircraft carriers, going from 200 miles per hour to a dead stop in about 1.2 seconds–“a controlled crash,” Lohrenz called it, during a New York event for family businesses hosted by Glenfiddich last week.

As a pioneer in the military’s ultimate glamour-boy job, Lohrenz found herself in a fishbowl. Her flight performance was reevaluated when those of worse-performing male pilots were not. She was the subject of frequent media interviews on the subject of women in combat, something on which she’d never claimed to be an expert.

And she was ordered to fly right after her friend Kara Hultgreen, the only other female fighter pilot on her ship, died in a crash–even though most fighter pilots on an aircraft carrier would get a day off after a fellow pilot died in this way.

“My job came with extraordinary pressure,” says Lohrenz. “The fear of failure is overwhelming, and yet you have to show up every day and do your job.”

How do you do it? Lohrenz offers this advice for business leaders.

Forget about perfect information.

Lohrenz says that, as a pilot, there is just way too much information coming in for it all to be processed perfectly, or even well. When she was flying, there could be three different people speaking to her via radio, all at once. There were 42 distinct beeps and buzzers that could go off in the cockpit, each indicating something different. She had literally hundreds of knobs and dials to deal with.

And while flying at the speed of sound, her body would be exposed to eight times the force of gravity, draining the blood from her head and upper extremities and causing her toenails to feel as if they were about to pop off.

In short: These were not optimal conditions for decision making. The rule of thumb, Lohrenz says, was that 80 percent was good enough. If you were 80 percent certain of something, you did it.

Now, as a speaker and parent of four, Lohrenz says she’s revised that rule of thumb: 75 percent works for her. She illustrated this with the photo she used as a Christmas card one year: One of her younger children was mostly hidden behind one of the older ones, with only his legs sticking out at sort of a weird angle. “I figured I’d catch up with him next time around,” she says. “Then, the next year, we didn’t send Christmas cards.”

Pick three priorities.

Lohrenz started her presentation by emphasizing the importance of focus. “The No. 1 way to reduce anxiety in a volatile environment is to write down your top three priorities and focus on those,” says Lohrenz. “It cannot be 27 priorities. You will be an inch deep and a mile wide.”

Perception matters.

Pilots deal with fear the same way the rest of us do, says Lohrenz: with food, sometimes, and with humor. Ignoring the fear, or adopting a Pollyannish attitude, doesn’t work, says Lohrenz: “People sniff through that BS in a heartbeat, and then they don’t trust you.”

Instead, pilots use a unique jargon that serves in part to mask the magnitude of the danger they’re facing. So a pilot who is running out of fuel, for example, is “bingo.”

Lohrenz showed a video of a pilot trying repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, to land on an aircraft carrier at night, and at one point in the radio communication you could hear him clearly say “bingo.” He did eventually land safely, and the video showed him later, on the ship, unable to hold his hand steady.

Lohrenz says as a pilot, when she was bingo, she could absolutely not radio something along the lines of, “I’m nearly out of fuel, and if I don’t land this time safely, I’m going to die!” That obviously doesn’t inspire confidence.

How she was perceived mattered, not just to the radio intercept officer in the back seat of her plane, but to the rest of the pilots and crew, any one of whom could view a video of any past landing attempt, at any time. The ideal radio communication, as Lohrenz demonstrated it, is so calm that it could be mistaken for that of a soulful DJ rather than that of someone trying to land a fighter jet.

Speaking of perception: Lohrenz was assigned the call sign Vixen, which she says she was sure was not her mom or dad’s “proudest parenting moment.”

Learn from failure. Fast.

That same pilot who couldn’t hold his hand steady was nonetheless scribbling notes on it. Lohrenz says almost all the pilots she worked with were big on writing notes on their hands. They were taught to figure out what went wrong, and to figure it out fast–because those same shaking pilots would be back in the air 15 minutes later.

Adapt and stay flexible.

“What does it take to remain relevant?” asks Lohrenz. “In my world, that’s staying alive and coming home.”

This is part of why training to be an officer is so notoriously difficult. “What they’re trying to do is bring you to your breaking point, both psychologically and physically,” says Lohrenz. “They want you to be able to identify where that is. You will fail. Will you be the person who can get back up, or will you be crushed?”

“The fear of failure is universal and paralyzing for almost all of us,” says Lohrenz, returning to a frequent theme in her talk. “We pass up valuable opportunities simply because we’re afraid to fail. Once you realize that failure will happen, but that it’s what you do with it that will define you–that lets you push forward and innovate.”

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How to Protect Your Attitude…

What you see is what you get.” – Unknown

Because we’re only paid on what we produce, most people in sales understand why getting and keeping a positive, success focused attitude is critical. We all have bad days, okay days and bell ringers – and the more of those bad and just okay days we can eliminate, the more sales we’ll make.

When we talk about how your attitude controls your success though, there’s a lot more to a ‘great success attitude’ than being a happy person in general.

I know a lot of very happy salespeople, who aren’t quite as happy about everything that has to do with selling. And even if you’re happy but you still can’t sell or you don’t go to work to work every day, you could just end up as a happy underachiever.

Our attitude is the foundation of just about everything we do in sales, even in our skill development.

If you don’t like (attitude) follow up, you won’t apply yourself for six short weeks to train online daily and do it correctly to develop the follow up skills that will pay you back in extra units and income the rest of your life, selling any product.

Same with selling, closing, and negotiating – if deep down you don’t like selling because you’re fearful, or feel (attitude) selling is pushy, sneaky or dishonest, you’ll never devote six weeks to developing your skills so you can sell on a professional level – which is the total opposite of pushing or tricking.

If you think (attitude) you deserve a sale just because you show up and wander around with a customer for a few minutes telling them what you know about the product and offering the lowest price on the planet, you’ll miss most sales and you’ll have way more bad days than good. Why? Attitude again.

I met a guy like this the other day. He felt because he spent 20 minutes with me that he deserved a commission. In real life, he didn’t know his product very well and he couldn’t close a door with a spring on it, much less close a sale on an expensive product.

His attitude was the pits and he’ll never be any good if he won’t spend the time it takes to actually sell his product instead of just doing paperwork when someone buys his product. He’ll always go home and explain to everyone who’ll listen why he doesn’t sell more.

Another example – I recently talked to a salesperson who doesn’t like trucks. He only sells cars and loses half of the sales he could make. Other salespeople don’t like their product and say that’s why they can’t sell it. If you only sell what you like, wake up: Buying isn’t about your likes, it’s about what your customers want.

Do You Need An Attitude Adjustment?

Your attitude is everything. You need to take inventory of your attitude in everything you do that affects selling and earning an income. When or if you find something you don’t like, learn how to fix it. In real life, almost everything that affects selling – including the hours and the pay – is solved when you develop real skills in sales and come to work for just one reason – to work!

Take a couple of minutes and do a realistic assessment of your attitude in some of the most critical areas in sales.

Then start training and start by ordering my free books. Do everything it takes to turn selling cars into a highly profitable, fun profession.

Check the statements you agree with…

  • Your attitude about being in sales affects your performance.
  • Your attitude about your product affects your performance.
  • Your attitude about your dealership affects your performance.
  • Your attitude about your customers affects your performance.
  • Your self confidence (attitude) affects your performance.
  • Your attitude about success affects your performance.
  • Being around negative people affects your attitude which in turn affects your performance.
  • Negative customers affect your attitude and performance.
  • The stress of your away-from-work life also affects your attitude and performance in sales.
  • Problems at work with people, service, deals or problems with the product affect your attitude and performance.
  • Almost everything can affect your attitude and performance.

Yes – Yes – Yes – Yes – Yes!

I’m betting you checked everything on the list because those topics affect everyone. So the real question you need to answer is how do you protect your attitude?

Everything above – being in sales, your product, your success and your customers…are all controlled by your education in sales or the lack of a real education in selling professionally.

Look at the list above again – from top to bottom, everything negative is directly related to a lack of skills on your part. Even those things on the list you don’t control directly (negative people / problem deals / tough customers) are also eliminated as you continually develop more skills.

I disliked almost everything about selling cars my first five years because I didn’t understand selling, success, or the customers.  I always had tough sales, problems getting deals cleared, etc. But when I learned to sell correctly, I made more during my next seven months than my first five years combined, and you can, too.

I rarely run across anyone who attends our training who doesn’t immediately do a 180 on everything we’ve just talked about. Your success is completely in your hands. When you learn more, you can deal with more things that affect selling, your income and your attitude. If you’ll devote one year to learning to sell – your life in sales will never be the same.

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How to Start New Hires on the Right Track

Assessing employees starts on Day One. Your hiring process shouldn’t be complete until you have a fully-oriented employee with their own development plan — a clear plan of action that will engage and hold your new hire accountable.

Because the sooner you set expectations for your employees, the more likely you are to have a productive team that supports and grows your business. And that isn’t the only benefit. There are three primary reasons to create individual development plans for managing performance. A development plan will:

1. Set expectations for performance. It gives employees clear expectations for their results. Statements in writing mean there is a greater likelihood of meeting or exceeding expectations. Having clear goals makes them more achievable.

2. Create a coaching document and put a process in place with a road map for advancement and a schedule to review progress, which holds managers accountable for providing feedback.

3. Create a benchmark that shows growth and improvement or the lack of progress against goals. This benchmark will assist you in developing your team members at all levels. Creating a record of improvement will make it easier to adjust the job fit for the employees and to make decisions in a more timely way about where you want to invest in developing employees.

Development plans show what employees can do to grow and develop, to advance, to become more valued, and to be more satisfied in their work. They also point out what kind of support and assistance they will need to get where they are going faster.

Components of the Plan
One mistake many managers make, often because they use poorly designed development plan templates, is to take on too many challenges at once. Keep the plan as simple as possible. Identify a combined total of two or three measurable objectives within the following three job-related categories:

  • Focus on the employee’s career growth. Examples include attending classes, seminars or workshops, or participating in on-the-job training or self-study programs (e.g., books, DVDs or web-based training).
  • Help the employee improve personal aspects of his or her performance, behavior or conduct. Examples of task-oriented performance goals are improving computer proficiency, time management or presentation skills. Or the employee can focus on correcting behavioral problems that negatively impact group morale, job performance or job satisfaction. Examples of such goals are developing conflict resolution or stress reduction techniques and building collaborative coworker relationships. As with professional development goals, effective performance objectives are well defined, are measurable, and are clearly linked to specific job-related outcomes.
  • Provide specific assignments to participate in or manage ongoing or future projects. When setting project-oriented goals, outline the scope of the role the employee is to play, list resources and completion time frame, and define the desired result.

Components of an Effective Objective
Objectives must be ones the employee has agreed to accomplish within a specified time. The goals should be specific and challenging but attainable. Identify everything that both the employee and manager need to provide to accomplish the goals as an objective. Each objective should have four parts:

  1. State the desired achievement for task mastery or improved behavior.
  2. Define the applicability of each goal to the function.
  3. Specify the method of learning.
  4. State the time frame for achievement.

When to Assess
Many companies tie development to performance appraisal. While it’s true you need to set expectations before you can identify areas for growth, employee development is an ongoing process. Reviews should be scheduled as often as needed according to the support, advancement, and abilities of each employee.

Each job and organization will evaluate and measure its employees using a variety of tools. Some of the most common include:

  • Biannual or annual performance standards/reviews/appraisals: These usually include quantitative and qualitative sections where both the employee and manager have opportunities to make remarks. They state expectations and goals. The employee’s performance is measured against these goals at the end of the time period. Traditionally, these appraisals are directly tied to annual bonuses or pay increases.
  • Budget and quota measurements: These include measuring a person’s performance against budget expectations and quotas. Employees are evaluated based on how well they perform, and rewards are directly tied to performance.

Regardless of how you choose to evaluate employees, using a development plan customized for each individual will make the performance evaluation process easier and fairer and offer ongoing opportunities to provide coaching and feedback throughout the year, not just at performance review time. It also reduces the risk of surprise in the results for the employees.

The manager and employee will work on the development plan together, but the more involved the employee is in determining the areas to work on, the more committed that individual will be to accomplishing the goals. The objective is to create an environment that encourages continuous feedback from managers, which will help employees advance more quickly, achieve more, and avoid unnecessary problems and setbacks.

This article was written by Katherine Graham-Leviss and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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When to Set Sales Performance Reviews

Annual performance reviews give managers and employees an opportunity to look at the employee’s performance over the course of a year. Short- and long-range goals from the prior year are evaluated. Raises and promotions generally are discussed.

As with other job functions, many small-business owners conduct reviews of their sales staff annually. However, in my experience, reviewing a salesperson’s performance on an annual basis doesn’t work. Problems with accounts are identified too late or not at all. Deals that should have been sealed wind up going to the competition. Low productivity often goes unnoticed.

The result can be that non-performers remain with the company, and on the payroll, for too long. They come in below quota month after month and cost the company time and money.

To avoid this, consider meeting with your salespeople on a monthly basis and conducting formal reviews quarterly. Just because the review process will be different for sales, that doesn’t mean it will be unfair for other types of employees. In fact, changing the frequency of salesperson reviews can benefit your entire organization. For starters, you’ll notice that after those monthly meetings, there’s a burst of high energy that can result in high volume sales activity. Your salespeople will be motivated to fill their pipeline and reach or exceed quota benchmarks.

Here’s what you need to know in order to implement these changes.

Starting the Discussion

Here’s a hypothetical situation to serve as an example of the benefits of monthly meetings and quarterly reviews:

While prepping for your April monthly meeting, you notice that the number of cold calls one particular salesperson has made are below minimum productivity standards. You mention this to her and discuss solutions.

Whether you suspect the salesperson is making excuses or the complaints have merit, one goal has been accomplished – she’s been alerted. Her current cold calling volume is unacceptable and she needs to improve those numbers now, not after several more months.

Analyzing the Situation

By May, that salesperson’s numbers either will or won’t be at or above the minimum productivity standard. Again, discuss the situation. Congratulate her on any improvements and offer encouragement if she missed the mark. Revisit the solutions you suggested in April. Set some smaller goals if necessary.

At the end of June, three months have elapsed since that first conversation. At this point, you’ve offered assistance and coaching on the matter. However, the rep in question has missed quota again.

If the rest of the sales staff hits their cold calling numbers while facing the same obstacles and performing the same duties as the rep in question, something is wrong. It’s most likely time to terminate her employment.

While this might seem harsh, it’s better for business to cut your losses after three months than to keep an underperforming rep on staff for an entire year.

Boosting Sales and Company Morale

When a salesperson fails to make quota month after month and you don’t do anything about it, the message you send to the whole organization is “We don’t hold people accountable here.”

Salespeople who achieve quota regularly might resent the underperforming salesperson and, worse yet, could lose respect for you. Employees and managers in other departments might begin to wonder how much slacking they can get away with. If this happens, then no one will give you their best effort. The lack of accountability can permeate your entire organization.

Implementing a system of monthly meetings and quarterly reviews can help you determine which salespeople are worth keeping on your team for the long haul. Your sales staff will not take their jobs for granted. Other employees will observe that non-performance isn’t tolerated. The entire company will respect you for doing the right thing.

This article was written by Suzanne Paling and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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