Business Fitness: Professional Sales Teams Deliver More Profit, Period

Revisit your company’s sales training expectations with one caveat: Make sure it is results-based and includes your sales manager!

Business Fitness: Professional Sales Teams Deliver More Profit, Period

Adobe Stock image by cacaroot

Editor’s Note: This column, focusing on how small businesses benefit from utilizing professional sales teams, is Part 1 of a two-part series.

What makes me qualified to talk about sales in small businesses generally and professional security specifically?

For more than 38 years of my career, I’ve been in the sales arena. I started in a commercial territory, then national accounts for ADT/Tyco. For the next 25 years, I was an entrepreneur, working as an emerging technology systems integrator and security business consultant.

I got to know how to sell when introducing new technology solutions and business services without a safety net! I’ve leveraged that combined experience to train more than 10,000 security channel people, both domestically and internationally.

This month, I want to talk about your career and your small business.

Defining Professional Sales

How would you define a professional salesperson? What characteristics and skills do they possess that amateur salespeople lack? Which words would you chose to define their success? How and with whom do they invest (not spend) their time, and why?

Let me weigh in on this. I’ll focus on amateurs this month and professionals next month.

How do amateurs sell? What observable characteristics do they show you? What do your prospects and your existing customers see from them? Danger, Will Robinson!

  1. Amateur salespeople (AS) will tend to try to explain away their poor sales performance by pointing to high pricing, a poor reputation or the customer contact having made the final decision. Have you ever heard any of these?
  2. AS do not take responsibility for their shortcomings. They tend to blame others, and they don’t proactively build their sales skill stacks. They typically deflect criticism, without taking responsibility. What could be the real problem?
  3. Often, sales managers don’t have the proper training to lead and effectively motivate. They may blame poor performance and weak sales results on their people — not on their lack of skills. I often find that systems integration business owners don’t or won’t hold their sales managers accountable.
  4. High turnover in salespeople is expensive; it annoys the heck out of your customers; and it tarnishes your brand.

The Telltale Signs

So, what are some of the telltale signs that your sales team lacks essential skills? Here are some I look for with my own clients.

  1. They waste valuable sales time by failing to adequately qualify a real opportunity versus a tire kicker who just wants a proposal. This is a profit killer because it may tie up your other associates, who will work to support a sales proposal that has no chance of turning into revenue. If the sales team prices out and develops their own proposals, this situation robs them of selling time. In my experience, most proposals to a new customer have about a 10% to 15% chance of being successful without some professional selling skills.
  2. Your seasoned salespeople (professional salespeople) qualify opportunities by asking the right questions before they invest more time with a longshot. If they don’t get the right answers, they politely decline to engage, or they strategically refer them to a competitor. They value their time and reputation within your company and the security industry.
  3. The solution is periodically to have the sales manager — assuming he or she has professional selling/management experience — go into the field with a suspect salesperson. Initially, it’s to train them on how to ask the right qualifying questions of a prospect, not to control the sales meeting outcome. Later, they must go back into the field with that rep to observe — not to talk — so they can gauge how the salesperson qualifies opportunities. If they can’t qualify or choose not to, you have a bigger management problem to fix.

Results-Based Professional Sales Training

Revisit your company’s sales training expectations with one caveat: Make sure it is results-based and includes your sales manager as the accountability backstop!

Remember, sales managers are provided with valuable company resources (salespeople) to train, motivate, discipline and celebrate, all while modeling desired behaviors.

Happy trails! Part 2 is coming next month!

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About the Author

Paul Boucherle

Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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