I wrote last time about focusing on the leading indicators – the number of discovery appointments.  To continue with our example from last time, the salesperson needed 8 discovery appointments per month, because we calculated a 25% closing ratio off of their initial discovery appointments, and the salesperson needed to close 24 accounts for the year, or 2 per month.

What happens when your salespeople aren’t closing business at the rate expected?  It is time for coaching intervention.  There are really only two reasons why salespeople fail:

1) They aren’t doing enough of the right activity
2) They aren’t very good at the activity when they do it

First, make absolutely certain that the appointments they are conducting are quality.  It would not be uncommon for a salesperson feeling the pressure to perform, to meet the goal of 8 discovery appointments just to have the quantity, but misses the mark on quality.  We will assume for our example that the salespeople are in fact conducting 8 quality appointments per month.  The problem that we then address falls into item #2 – they aren’t as good as they need to be.  This requires your coaching intervention (if you aren’t going on calls regularly already).  It requires you to observe and participate in your teams selling activity.  If they aren’t as good as they should be, then coach, coach, coach.  Hold them accountable to a new standard.  Role play, ask them impromptu questions.  Demand that they have an agreed to next step for each interaction with a prospect.   Make sure they understand how your products and services help clients.  Provide them with a huge list of good questions to ask typical prospects that will help them differentiate themselves, and make sure they know them.

Be diligent in helping them achieve their full potential, but be realistic.  Not everyone that is selling is good at it.  It doesn’t mean they won’t be, but it won’t happen magically.  It takes effort and focus.  Just because they do the work, doesn’t mean they should be in sales.  Set standards and expect them to meet them, not just in terms of quantity but with regard to quality as well.

The quicker you can diagnose the root cause of the lack of closings, the quicker you can follow the right path to help the salesperson correct achieve success.