• Paul Walker

Stop Firing Salespeople!

Instead, how about putting that sales money into marketing?

I worked in organisations where salespeople were heaved out the door when they missed their targets. CROs talked about 'individual responsibility' and salespeople driving everything. This means the pressure on salespeople was enormous because they were in the firing line if numbers dropped and frankly, who performs better when they're constantly stressed?

One, multi-billion dollar organisation I worked out stands out in terms of pressurising salespeople. Approx 80% of the salespeople were missing target. However, instead of looking for the root causes, the mentality was simply of 'personal responsibility' which translated into firing people who didn't hit targets.

However, 'blaming' salespeople was completely wrong. For example, the biggest area that needed to be addressed was lead generation. However, instead of dedicating more marketing resources to top-of-the-funnel lead gen, more salespeople were hired and told to do it themselves. The reality is they were selling a high value solution which required a lot of engagement so as soon as their pipe reached a certain level, they just didn't have the time to cold call. And high-paid salespeople are there to manage difficult customers through complex sales processes, not to be 'pure' lead generators.

And when salespeople were fired for missing targets, they complained vociferously about marketing because they weren't getting the support. Well, of course they weren't because marketing was understaffed, under-resourced and their budget was being diverted into hiring more salespeople!

Deals were also being lost at the closing stage because salespeople simply didn't have the collateral they needed to put in front of late-stage prospects. For example, in financial services, there were no video testimonials which was a huge handicap because salespeople had to depend on telling customers how good the solution was. And who do prospects trust more, the salesperson trying to sell or the customer who's living with the solution?

On the flip side, I worked in a multi-billion dollar business where marketing was well-resourced and had the ability to impact the sales / marketing pipe at all levels. Where they were able to use powerful tools ranging from seminars to digital which swamped the sales team with leads. And also to give the field sales team the ability to close sales. I saw one salesperson generate 692% of target in his first year and his biggest issue was keeping up with tall the leads marketing were feeding him!

Sure, salespeople have individual responsibility but Mr 692% was in a position where marketing swamped him with leads the second he walked in the door and he had difficulty being unsuccessful! Because marketing was well-resourced enough to be the multiplier that sales needs them to be!

So before firing the salesperson, it might be worth asking the question about whether marketing is well enough resourced. Because in business, that's the difference between success and failure of the whole sales team.

#Marketing #LeadGeneration #LeadGen #B2BMarketing #Sales


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