How To Be Your Own Small Business Sales Manager

by Tom Egelhoff

Author Tom Egelhoff

In the most businesses the owner wears many hats.

Accountant, buyer, manager, installer, salesperson plus you probably sweep the place out at night.

But as we all know nothing happens till someone sells something. So the strongest part of any business is its sales staff.

In smaller shops it may be only you or the counter person doing double duty as a salesperson.

However it's done, building a strong sales force will often be the difference between success and failure of your business.

There's much more to being a manager than just adding up the total sales of each person at the end of the month.

For example, how would you know that your top sales person is costing you business by being too high pressure? He or she might be selling a ton but those customers may never return because of that experience.

You not only want to sell something once but you also want to develop a lifetime customer in the process. How would you know if you have a sales person that is letting too many people walk?

How Your Employees Could Be Costing You Sales

Here are some interesting observations in a survey done by Industrial Distribution that talked to 10,000 customers.

  • Ninety-six percent said salespeople never asked for the order.

  • Eighty-nine percent said the salesperson did not know the product

  • Eighty-eight percent said the salesperson did not demonstrate the product and seemed to be selling strictly on price not value or benefits.

  • Eighty-five percent felt the salesperson lacked empathy in providing solutions for the customer.

  • Eighty-two percent said they would not buy from their salesperson again and sited "neglect" and "indifference" as the major reason.

Do any of these look familiar?

Do you have salespeople that fall into these categories? How would you know?

If so, what corrections can you make? How can you reverse these figures and increase sales and profits?

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Become Your Own Small Business Sales Manager

Where do you start? The first step is recognizing that you can't treat everyone the same.

People are different and so are salespeople.

You have to find the strengths of each and build on those. Any good baseball team will have a mixture of veterans and rookies that must all work together as a team.

Each player is accomplished at their individual position but some may need extra fielding or batting practice to play at the professional level.

But when they take the field they are all playing by the same rules. Opposing pitchers don't let up on your weak hitters.

Neither will your customers they will walk out your door empty handed if they are not dealing with a professional salesperson.

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Methods Of Measuring Employee Sales

In order to evaluate who needs what you must put some measurements in place.

The first one I like to learn is the closing ratio. This ratio tells me how many people are walking without buying.

Each morning you would meet with sales people and give them a specific number of business cards. At the end of the day, collect any remaining cards that the salesperson did not give to customers.

This will tell you how many customers the sales person talked to on that day. Then I can compare that to what the salesperson actually sold and get their closing ratio.

If they talked to 20 people and sold 10 they have a closing ratio of 50%. I would track this for at least three months to get a consistent average.

The other good thing about this process is that the sales people are also starting to analyze their own efforts as well. Which is what I really want them to do.

Once you know who has a low closing ratio you can begin to work with that person and give them some other tracking items.

For example it might be something as simple as asking every person they sell to buy an add on product.

Or, you might ask them to show at least one of three specific products to each customer and record any objections they might have.

By doing this it will build their confidence in product knowledge.

My allotted space here is too small to go though all the various sales building techniques you might use.

The point to keep in mind is that high turnover of sales people is costly.

But so is having people walk. Your sales force is a very necessary part of your business and you must be on top of it because of your very competitive market.

Every customer is vital so become a good sales manager and you will be much more profitable.

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