Recharge Your Sales Team
The demands placed
on sales reps are vast,
particularly in a down
economy, when closing
a deal is even tougher.
Does your sales team
have what it takes?
BY GWEN SHAFFER
ILLUSTRATIONS BY KEITH NEGLEY
Like a lot of companies, Honest Tea
rewards its top sales performers during
its annual meeting. But this relatively
small company, with only about 55 sales
reps across the country, goes beyond
acknowledging team members for creating revenue. In line with Honest Tea’s
focus on sustainability and corporate
social responsibility, the Bethesda, Md.–
based business recognizes employees
for maintaining healthy eating habits,
quitting smoking or even volunteering
in the community.
“My best salespeople are very competitive, and incentives are fuel for that
fire,” says Chuck Muth, vice president of
sales for Honest Tea, which earned about
$70 million in revenue during 2010.
Increasingly, companies like Honest
Tea are exploring innovative techniques
for recharging their sales forces. Although
the sales profession requires no diploma
or license, sales reps are often placed in
charge of arguably the most essential
aspect of a business.
About 41 percent of companies with
more than a $1 billion in annual sales
reported that they need to do a better
job of proactively identifying which sales
reps need coaching, according to a survey
conducted by CSO Insights, a research
firm that tracks trends in sales. And more
than 56 percent of these companies indi-
cated that they could do a better job of
sharing best practices across the sales
force, according to the research findings.
Training, Not Just Goals
Companies routinely hire Mark Christie’s
company, SalesForce Training and Consulting, to host workshops for their reps.
“Our events are able to get people
focused on the next quarter. The problem
is, when there’s no follow-up, that motivation is short-lived,” Christie says. There
is no such thing as a born salesperson, just
as there is no such thing as a born pilot or
a born dentist, he points out.
“People need to learn how to sell,
and organizations need to invest heav-
ily in the education of salespeople to
give them those skills,” Christie says.
“My biggest lament as a sales trainer
is organizations that think a two-day
workshop can turn around everything.
Sales managers need to continuously
coach their teams.”
Rick Bakosh, managing director of the
sales transformation group for the global
consulting firm Accenture, notes that
when the economy takes a nose dive,
companies tend to cut training, travel
and expense accounts. Sales reps can
compensate, however, by focusing on
customer relationships, he says.
“Those who build deep, trusted advisor relationships—as opposed to being
viewed simply as another vendor—can