Increase Sales by Properly Training Your Sales People

by Jon Robert Quinn

I see too many sales organizations today pushing for more sales people rather than making their current sales people better. It is very expensive for a sales organization to hire new sales people to bring better results and then firing the weaker sales people only after a month or so of poor production. This is honestly like throwing your old TV away because there is nothing to watch.

I remember years ago when I first got into sales. My first sales job was at Samsonite in Vacaville, California. I was 17. I would ride my bike nine miles each way back and forth to work. If it rained, I would wear a waterproof suit with my slacks, button-down shirt and tie underneath. After a long shift, I would typically change into my other work clothes and head on over to my graveyard shift security job at an auto parts distribution facility. I wasn’t very good at sales, but I was a hard worker and my boss admired that. I showed up on time, did the best I could do and went home. After a few months, I found it wasn’t for me and quit.

Shortly after this stint, I realized I was ready to officially start my first business. Again, I wasn’t very good at sales, but I was a fast talker, a thinker and was innovative. After about a year in business, I found myself in a little bit of trouble and shut it down. I was now 19. A couple years would pass and I’d get a job at a car dealership selling cars. I only lasted about month here before I was let go. Why am I telling you this? My sales managers admired my hard work, but they never sat me down and taught me HOW to properly talk to people. All they taught me were shady sales tactics and scripts. This is how most sales organizations are run these days.

There are plenty of sales training classes and seminars out there and from what I have found, these courses are teaching sales people to memorize scripts. This is NOT how you train sales people. Sales really is just thinking on your feet and being great at your craft of problem solving. You cannot teach people a script to solve common problems on the sales floor. In addition, poor sales performance comes from lack of interest or just being crapped out. I believe that most sales people are really good at their craft but the organization itself is what is harming the sales and performance of the sales people. Poor pay, poor marketing and the organization not having the right focus in mind spins the sales person's mind, impairing their ability to sell.

Sales organizations put fear in sales people and with sales being a mental-based business, the sales person gets in their own head and literally paralyzes their ability to close the deal. Unfortunately, most sales organizations today lack in the uplifting and positive environments and are most focused on their bottom end resulting in cut backs. I went back and sold cars again in 2013. I had just shut down my second business and was pretty much homeless. I took too many calculated risks with my retail stores during the recession and couldn’t pull out of it, like most entrepreneurs in that time.

I pull up to Sacramento Dodge in my Porsche with my laundry basket in the bonnet. I sit down with the sales manager and explain to him the situation. He asks where I live. I look over at my car. At this time, I am 30 years old, in a suit, my old beat up Porsche parked outside and looking for a sales job. I had already made my first million with my previous business, but like most people after the recession, I was broke. They hire me on the spot. Within a couple of weeks, I am at the top of leaderboard. A couple months would pass and I am spun out like the rest of the sales people complaining that the leads are weak, like from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. The leads weren’t weak, I was weak and the organization was breaking us. A few months later, the dealership was bought out by another company and everybody went separate ways.

At this point, I found myself working at Paramount Equity Mortgage. Say what you want, this was a wonderful and eye-opening experience for me. I feel like this organization made me the sales professional I am today. Without these hard-working people, I wouldn’t have had the training and support I needed to become successful. I will say however that as their sales expectations grew within the company, so did the stress and our quality of life. Why was this? It was simply because they were hiring more and more sales people and had to cut corners in the training of the staff, affecting the quality of the employees brought on board. Yes, the company made more money, but also resulted in many class-action lawsuits costing the company millions of dollars long after those employees found employment elsewhere. It’s not uncommon for me, years later, to open the mailbox and get another $500.00 check from a class-action lawsuit.

Another huge mistake management takes today is overworking their sales people. I see sales people working ten, twelve or more hours each day to hit their quotas. This may seem productive because they are working more hours, but the mental fatigue ultimately is making a lot of those hours useless also causing them to resent their jobs. Management can properly train and encourage their sales teams to get the results they would expect, allowing the sales people to work less hours, enjoy their jobs, spend time with their families and giving the organization less turnover.

So, my advice is this. If you’re starting or currently running a sales organization, you need to sit and speak with your employees, have empathy and find out HOW you can better their lives. People are NOT motivated by money. They are motivated by family and what that money can do. So, instead of spiffs and $100 bonuses, maybe a day off and dinner out on the town with their spouse is a better approach. They come back to work refreshed and ready for another productive day.