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Sales Make it Happen

Managing and Motivating Your Sales Force

By Linda P. Kester

Are these complaints familiar? " Our credit department or funding source is too tight. " Our rates are too high! "Each leasing company I work with has some salespeople who inevitably make those statements. When I look at the volume numbers of the rep's who are complaining they are usually at the bottom of the companies' productivity ranking. The rep's in the top 20% are either on the phone

or out in the field. They're too busy to complain, sometimes even too busy to appeal a marginal deal. What can we do about the complainers? Bring them into the top 20%.

When I was a sales manager, the best rep I had on my team could not do a cash flow schedule on her HP-17b, and she was not the most experienced. In fact, she was kind of "unpolished" I wasn't concerned about that; I knew she could be fine-tuned in the areas where she needed improvement. So why was she my best rep? She wasn't afraid to go out there, to call on lessees and vendors and sell them. I wish I had twenty reps like her.

In my experience in leasing there are only two reasons why a sales rep fails to succeed: lack of integrity and lack of activity. If you find out about an integrity problem cut your losses ASAP. If your reps have an activity problem, like complainers in the above example, it's usually a result of a lack of confidence. If they don't feel comfortable with their skills and leasing knowledge, they will be uncomfortable prospecting.

Top reps have three things going for them knowledge, skills, and motivation. On going training on selling skills and the leasing industry will help your reps gain confidence. To have these confident reps enter the top 20% of your sales force you have to help them. focus on the future. Your goal as a sales manager is to instill in your reps the hope, anticipation, and determination that can make selling so exciting. Many of your reps know what they should do, but they never do it. The reason is that they're lacking the drive that only compelling future can provide.

Good performance starts with clear goals. People begin a task by deciding where they want to go. When you hire a new rep you have to give him goals for even the first month of his employment. He needs this so that he can measure

himself against your expectations. I'm amazed when I ask a rep what his volume goals is for the month and he doesn't know. People often complain about a lack of time when the lack of direction is the real problem.

Your reps need to know on a daily basis how many applications they have to get in order to achieve their volume goal. It's a simple formula. Say their goal is $400,000 a month. If their average transaction size is $12,000, and they have an approval rate of 70%, and 80% of what is approved gets booked, then they need 60 applications to get to their goals. If you have an average of twenty business days in the month then this breaks down into three apps per day.

Then you can figure out how many prospect calls it takes to get one application. Just have your reps keep a tic sheet of how many calls they've made and how many applications they've received in one day. After one week you can get a feel for a new rep, of how many prospects calls he has to make before he gets an application. You and your reps both need to know on a daily basis if your reps are moving toward their goals. It's a very simple technique, and many contact management software programs make the process easier.

Once you've figured out your reps goals, then you have to discover what motivates them. What motivates people? Recognition, money and material goods, career advancement opportunities, pride in achievement, an opportunity to give service to others, relationships with co-workers, competition with others. Here are some techniques for creating a motivating environment in your company.

Work as a team. The best people in the business are team players and coaches. If a struggling rep has the support and guidance from senior employees and they feel that they are contributing to a larger cause, they may in turn work harder.

Post your monthly volume goal on the wall. The sales team should be able to see its goals at a glance and know what's expected of them individually, and as unit. Also, keep track of every application you receive on a daily basis. This way you know if you're on track.

Recognition Area . Make the physical environment a place where people want to come to work, where they can get positive messages and where they can see their goals set out before them. Use wall space as a gallery for reminders of rep's achievement and to post testimonial letters from satisfied customers.

Follow the rules of positive reinforcement. Behavior that gets rewards gets repeated. If you want someone to behave in a certain way (make more prospect calls, get more orders, etc.), then you must reward them for that behavior.

The secret to success is to drop the negatives and excuses. Get going with a goal directed program, adopt a policy of team work, believe in hard work plus positive thinking, and you will have a successful sales force.

(This was written by Linda Kester and appeared in Leasing News in June, 2000.)

Linda Kester motivates, educates and empowers leasing sales reps to obtain top performance and increase volume. She provides enthusiastic and practical ideas for success. For more tips visit