How can I motivate my sales staff?

Hey Steve,

I was wondering if you could help me out with a format for a sales meeting. Our company is 2/3rds cleaning and restoration and 1/3rd flooring sales and we gross a little over two million a year. However, I feel my sales and office staff have all gotten increasingly complacent.

So I recently started weekly sales meetings with my sales staff and I’ve” been giving them both barrels”! But even with all my screaming and nagging sales still aren’t improving. So I think I may need to change my approach!

We have three cleaning salespersons (two for commercial accounts and one residential), one phone person who makes cold calls on commercial accounts along with two office staff that answer the phones/book jobs and two flooring salespersons.

The two individuals in commercial sales and the two flooring salespersons have sales goals they must meet. I haven’t yet set any goals for the residential cleaning salesperson, the cold caller office person and the two receptionists booking the incoming jobs all have no goals.

Our office staff has two ways of generating sales. They can make outgoing calls to previous customers and obviously by booking estimates that come in through the phone. I was just wondering if you (or SFS) have a standard format to guide me in my sales meetings. I really need to light a fire under these complacent losers!


Losing Some Losers in L.A

Well, L.A., first please accept my congratulations on building a 2 million dollar plus business. That is quite an accomplishment any time and especially so in today’s economic climate!

But remember (as Chuck Violand always reminds us in SFS) your net, not your gross,  is what matters in defining your “success”.  For example, I would much rather own a 1 million per year business netting 10% than a 2 million dollar company netting 5%!

Why? Because the smaller business will put the same amount of profit in my pocket with MUCH fewer problems. Plus a well-run small company with tight financial controls will be MUCH easier to grow into an even more profitable BIG business!

Let me be frank here, L.A. Far too many multi-truck companies have grown bigger only to stroke the owner’s ego. (I’m not saying this is true in your case!) Sorry, but if I am going to endure the inevitable agonies of a growth curve into a large company I want to be well compensated for my pain! (I know far too many multi-truck operators that are slaves to their companies.

Don’t forget, too, that there are other ways to define your success, including great times spent with family and friends. (L.A., my guess is with all the stress you describe there hasn’t been much “great family time” for you lately!)

So L.A., one of my favorite sayings is to “Begin with the end in mind”. As in THINK where you want your business (and your life) to go. Be sure to base your vision not just on profits but also the intangible factors we talked about above. Then once you have defined your personal definition of success now let’s look at how to get there.

Another favorite Steve Toburen expression is “Divide and conquer”. So whatever growth or profit goals you have set up now just divide up the weeks and start writing a practical schedule detailing how you will get there. For example…

If you plan to increase sales by 15% next year (which may be ambitious) then take your projected increase (300,000.00 based on starting at two million) and divide by the number of weeks in the year and voila! Your sales staff needs to average 5,770.00 per week in NEW business. That shouldn’t be too hard now, should it?

Remember, L.A., that the old saying, “Praise in public, reprove in private” applies in employee sales meetings. So your public job is three-fold:  1) Look for things you can commend/ recognize and 2) make things as easy as possible and 3) help your employees set reasonable DAILY goals. In fact, let’s briefly examine these topics individually:

1. Commendation: Keep a list of specific items to personally praise employees on. Don’t say, “Charlie is doing a good job.” Instead, during your sales meeting look Charlie in the eye and directly address him in front of the others, “Charlie, you closed the Simmons account last week which will increase our revenues by 3,500.00 per month. Well done!” Don’t forget to shake hands while giving him R & R. (See below.)

Of course, all this “commendation” only goes so far! You also need to COMPENSATE sales people but only based on your Desired Results. (Do you know what your “Desired Results” are? If not, see my point above about “Beginning with the end in mind”!) A Kansas cleaner wrote me a while back asking how to compensate outside sales people. My reply may be of value to you too!

2. “Make it easier”: Sales people tend to be disorganized and frequently engage in “Displacement Activities” which are loosely defined as “Anything else (busy work) that will give them an excuse to not get out there face to face selling”! So give them actual sales scripts, 30 second “elevator speeches” and the tools (such as our CCA form) to involve the prospect in the “cleaning consultation”. Then practice them with skits and demonstrations during your sales meetings.

3. Develop daily/weekly sales goals: Yes, L.A., ALL your staff should have goals and they should be both recognized and rewarded (R & R) when they exceed these goals. (I liked to do Immediate R & R with employees who excelled by handing out 20.00, 50.00 or 100.00 bills!)

L.A, the great Chinese general, Lao T’zu famously said, “When the great leader’s work is done the people will say, ‘We did it ourselves’.”  So you MUST get “buy-in’ from your employees. Do this by getting the employees themselves to define what goals they want to reach on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. This is so much better than you determining them on your own and then “flogging” your people into submission!

HINT: Ask your sales people individually to come up with their own goals. They usually will be even more exacting on themselves than you would be. This is great because you can now suggest, “Hey, let’s be reasonable, Carol. Let’s lower these goals by 10% (smiling here) and then you’ll have no excuse not to meet them!”

The overall goal with any staff meeting is to build a creative fervor that pumps up your employees while giving them practical help and also holding them accountable. Try these strategies, L.A., and then get back with us. As I always say, “We’re all in this together!”


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