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Ensuring Good Sales Personnel Stay Put

(June 2005) posted on Mon Jun 06, 2005

Tips to keep your sales staff productive and happy.

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By Marty McGhie

Just as important, however, is ensuring that your compensation
structure does not inadvertently reward poor performers. If
they don't sell enough, they should be penalized financially to
the point that they can't afford to stay with your company"?
basically forcing them to move on to somewhere else. One warning
here: Provide yourself plenty of time to judge a new sales rep
properly and thoroughly. This is a difficult industry to learn, and
it takes a while before a new sales rep gets comfortable and
reaches his or her stride. A colleague of mine believes it takes
two years for sales people in our industry to really learn our
business. A heavier salary with less commission-base initially
will usually allow you time to determine whether a particular
salesperson will make it or not.

Product mix and TLC

Another way to keep your sales personnel happy is by providing
an excellent product offering that they can sell at the right price.
If your shop is a one-trick pony, you might be able to keep a top
sales rep for a time. But as soon as they begin to lose significant
jobs to competitors offering more and better options, you'll soon
lose them, too.

Also entering into the mix is how you treat your sales staff. As
I indicated earlier, sales people are a special breed"?they need
your constant attention. Work closely with them on quotes and
projects; spend the time to teach them the business, and visit
their customers with them. Provide them with capable customerservice
support so their clients can be taken care of.

Nor should you neglect the importance of internal camaraderie.
It's a good idea to hold sales seminars and outings, particularly
if your business has multiple locations. In our company,
for instance, we have sales reps in four different locations in the
western US. At least twice a year we get everyone together in
one place, where we spend time training, having open forum discussions
to solicit feedback on how management is doing (yes,
these can be painful at times), and having some fun together.
Although these events can be expensive, the sales seminars are
extremely beneficial. Our sales reps always go away invigorated,
and are ready to try something new as a result.

These are just a few of a great many ways to ensure your
sales force's stability. If sales are, in fact, the lifeblood of our
companies, you can avoid "company cardiac arrest" by spending
time to properly care for your sales personnel.

Marty McGhie [] is VP finance/operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations.