It’s a full-time job to inspire and motivate salespeople in
order to maximize their contribution to the bottom line. There are
many factors to inspirational leadership, but none more important
than putting their interests ahead of your interests. The following
represents several management techniques based on this guiding
principle that have proven effective in enhancing productivity.
- Give Written Assurance
Good salespeople need to radiate confidence. Once a decision has
been made to hire a salesperson, give him or her a written
agreement to sign that clearly outlines the job description,
commission system and auto insurance requirements.
Most salespeople want to know the ground rules for doing a good
job, so spell out your expectations as performance standards.
Include a description of what happens to commission on uncompleted
projects if they were to leave your employment. Furnish an
explanation why a reasonable non-compete clause is important to
your firm. A written document eliminates surprises and establishes
a foundation for mutual trust and open communication.
- Create a Sales Plan
Good salespeople want to make good money. The owner/manager should
develop an annual sales plan for salespeople to realize their
income goal. For example, if one individual wants to earn $100,000,
show him or her how may leads (first appointments), how many
“quotes” (qualified leads), how many “closes” and what the closing
percentage (number of sales divided by qualified leads) should be,
as well as what the average sale must total to achieve this goal.
This plan should be based upon historical data your firm has
The chart on above shows a sample plan where the commission
program, based upon a defined % of the gross profit in each
project, is the equivalent to 10% of the selling price.
This annual plan then must be converted to a monthly plan, so the
salesperson knows his short-term goals to stay on track for the
year. The monthly plan would be most realistic if it was leveled to
what each month historically produced in the way of business. So,
rather than making January’s goal equal to $83,333 ($1,000,000
divided by 12 months), it is set at $47,000 because records over
the last five years show that 4.7% of the company’s sales have been
generated in that month.
The plan should also provide for adequate training to support the
salesperson in realizing his or her goals. Ask your salespeople
what training they think they need, and once there is an agreement
on the Annual Sales Plan, have the sales designer sign off on
- Develop or Acquire Organizational
Good salespeople want to make the best use of
their time. According to Dale Carnegie, there are only two reasons
why salespeople fail: (1) lack of motivation and (2) lack of time
management skills. In the kitchen and bath industry, salespeople
can lose valuable time trying to manage all of the details in
putting a project together. The right kind of organizational tools
can alleviate this burden and greatly enhance a salesperson’s
productivity. One such tool is the Project Profile Form a vehicle
to inventory client needs, secure critical background data,
determine equipment preferences, collect mechanical construction
information, ascertain budgetary figures, etc.
Another is a Project Development Chart that helps salespeople
schedule and track leads under development and sold projects in
various stages of ordering and installation. Toward this end,
TheKitchenPond has developed a software program (called Kitchen
Manager 3.0) specifically for this industry.
Yet a third organizational device is a Revisions Checklist, which
would be used during a client meeting to identify those details
requiring a change and communicate to support staff which documents
floorplan, elevation, perspective, cabinet order, specs, or
contract require revisions.
- Visit the Competition
Good salespeople need to handle objections smoothly. To be really
effective, your salespeople need to know how competitors are
serving the marketplace.
Schedule salespeople to individually visit competitors at least
twice a year. Instruct them to stop by a competitor on a day when
they are in the area. They should identify themselves from your
company and say: “I am calling on a few nearby accounts today and
heard some nice things about your showroom. Do you mind if I look
Most people won’t object to this approach, particularly if your
“You’re welcome to stop by our showroom any time you’re in the
Showroom visits may last only 15-20 minutes, but you can learn an
awful lot in that time. Give your salespeople a form to evaluate
the competition on a scale of 0-4 in specific areas visibility,
professional appearance, product mix, unique selling proposition,
etc. It should be done in their car immediately following the
Once a second or third salesperson has stopped by the same business
over a 4-6 week period, a group evaluation should be done and a
professional sales strategy agreed upon.
A written strategy on file, it can be referenced during a quick
break by any salesperson when confronted by a comparison shopper.
It’s a little like being able to review your “crib notes” in school
before taking a final exam. It gives you the extra knowledge and
burst of confidence to go back in and “ace the test” with this