I’m working on several projects where clients have asked me to determine if their sales team is fully engaged. There have been several recent national studies stating between 60-70 % of employees working today are not engaged in their jobs. Over 15% of these employees are no longer engaged, but are actively doing things that might being doing damage to your organization’s reputation and business.
I was blown away by the numbers. So what happens if your sales team members are disengaged? That’s the easy question. Now the harder one, how do you uncover the people on your sales team who might be disengaged?
So how does a lack of engagement show up in your sales team? My clients and I have decided the best way to decide if a sales team members are disengaged is go to their customers to see if they still feel connected to my clients’ organizations. After several heated discussions with sales and senior leadership, we decided the best way to check was to ask several key questions to see how engaged the client or customer was. Over the years, I’ve noticed that disengaged sales professionals demonstrate certain behaviors that we can see without undermining the relationship with the client.
The first question I ask the customer is how often do they hear from their current sales professional? Depending on the size and complexity of the relationship, the number should between one and three time a month. The follow-up question is how does this compare to how often you heard from your sales professionals in the past? Disengaged sales professionals often decrease their visits and calls to clients and prefer to work on other nonproductive activities versus spending time with clients. If it’s been a strong client relationship, they may also share with their customer they are considering making a move to see if they might retain their client as they move to a new organization.
The second question is how often do you talk with your sales representative about your company and personal goals for the short and long term? Many disengaged sales professionals have shorter conversations with their clients. They focus on short term results and selling with the exclusion of talking about things the customer is interested in. A critical element that might be missing with a disengaged sales representative is trust. They may begin disconnecting from the client for any number of reasons, but all lead to a lack of trust in their relationship with current clients.
The third question is how is our customer service? Are you getting the attention you believe you deserve from our organization? If you had a problem with a project or order who would you contact first? Customers who are still buying from you know how to work through the system when there are problems. Disengaged sales professional frequently work as lone wolves and invest significant time on small issues that might be delegated to other members of their team. They do not feel part of the team and tend to burn out more quickly than others on the team.
The fourth question for your client is how often do they hear about new products and services you’re offering? Disengaged sales professionals don’t invest the time to learn new products and services because they don’t feel it’s worth the effort to learn about them and involve new people in their clients’ business. If your customer isn’t hearing about new products and services form your team, they may be hearing from your competition. Today, buyers are increasingly educated to what’s available in your market. If you’re not sharing new information and potential advantages of you products, they will find someone who will.
The final question for your customer is when was the last time their prices changed? When customers aren’t paying attention to pricing, it may mean that they are considering going out to another supplier for your products and services. The current reality for many of your best customers is shorter lead times and smaller inventories require stronger relationships with their partners. Is your sales professional leveraging the new economy opportunities?
Disengaged sales professional do not educate clients on why pricing might be a changing or what they can do to help lock in prices. Many sales professionals feel underappreciated and treated poorly over the past several years. They may pass on their dissatisfaction with passive-aggressive behavior in dealing with their clients. The customer might describe this behavior as moody or temperamental.
Now what do you do if you determine you do have several disengaged sales team members? These disengaged professionals can be costing your organization millions of dollars per year.
I have several ideas that you might want to consider implementing to reengage both sales representatives and your clients. See you tomorrow and when we start sharing how!