Let This Be a Wake-up Call
By Gretchen Gordon
I started Braveheart Sales Performance in 2009 on the heels of the “Great Recession.” We made our name in the security industry because so many companies were struggling with their teams. They wanted the salespeople to hunt more, to add more new commercial clients and to increase RMR, but instead many of the “top” salespeople were comfortable just dealing with the existing clients. And if you recall the economic environment leading up to the recession, it was full-steam ahead. The economy was booming. Anybody could sell in that environment because the demand was so great. Clients were expanding, and adding new locations. New businesses were being created. Consumers were living large. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Life was good.
Then wham! The economy went backward. There were record home mortgage defaults. Commercial clients stopped building new locations and new business starts decreased. And, guess what else? Those “top” salespeople started to suffer. Without their longtime commercial clients expanding, coupled with their reluctance to hunt for new accounts, growth stagnated for many security companies.
What I have warned about for several years is a downturn in the economy. During the boom times, is the right time to consider what needs to improve. But sadly, far too many company owners get complacent when things are great. And, guess what? We are right back where we were in 2009. Many large commercial clients are holding steady, being cautious and not expanding the way they were in prior years.
However, many clients are having some breakout months of late. The need for protection of empty facilities and the concern over civil unrest have likely fueled some increased interest in security. What concerns me is that complacency will take hold again. “Top” salespeople will continue to live off the existing account base. Owners will get frustrated that they don’t have “hunters,” and it will continue to be hard to attract top-notch talent to the industry and to individual companies because the “top” salespeople own all the largest and best accounts, but newbies must hunt and hunt and hunt. Frankly, owners may not know how to teach them to hunt effectively, because it has been so long since they did it. More often than not, the new salespeople are stuck with the veterans for some training, which is completely insane since the veterans rarely hunt.
I write this article to implore the numerous security company owners out there to resist the urge to be complacent with the sales team. You may feel like you have managed through the pandemic and are doing okay, but the problem may not be solved, and your company may not be positioned to weather a real recession.
This weird period of time we are in creates the need to assess everything about your sales team.
Your Hiring Practices
You need to hire the people who will enable you to become the company you want and the one your employees need it to be. Consider implementing a more robust recruiting effort and a more precise hiring process.
Your Onboarding Regimen
Asking new salespeople to shadow existing veterans may not be the solution to help them understand what they will have to do to prospect and find new accounts. But the burden of the onboarding need not rest solely with the hiring manager to spoon feed them. Consider a repeatable, blended learning approach to their initial training which might include: role playing, online product and sales knowledge skill building, observation with worksheets to complete from the time, and be sure to set clear expectations with regard to activities, behaviors and closed sales with the new hire taking the responsibility for much of their own success.
Your Sales Compensation Plan
Salespeople need to be compensated for the value they bring to the company, and the plan needs to reward the behaviors you require to expand and grow the company. They do not need to be a one-size-fits-all. Not all revenue is created equal and salespeople need to be incented to produce the most valuable type of revenue.
Your Sales Team Structure
Now is the time to consider the potential that an inside salesperson may be able to bring to the team, not only to handle inbound leads, but also to source and pre-qualify outbound opportunities. But, it may not be your customer service person. Bite the bullet and invest in a true salesperson (or salespeople) who will fully qualify, and close sales over the phone. Reduce waste and cost associated with field salespeople who go to every appointment. Qualify first.
Your Expectations of Their Prospecting
If you have become complacent with the boom times we have been in, then you have likely focused less attention on the behaviors of the team surrounding the addition of new clients. Just know that it will be potentially harder now than in the past to actually reach new commercial clients, especially in some parts of the country, so you likely need to raise your expectations of the team to do more and be more adept at prospecting…including the use of social selling tools such as LinkedIn for commercial focus and Facebook for residential focus.
Take advantage of the opportunity that may exist to fulfill the demand now due to the current interest in increased security, but please don’t rest on your laurels. Plan and prepare for the sales team you need in the future and begin to build the blocks now. Be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead and win a bigger piece of the pie. Don’t just rely on the pie to grow. Build a well-oiled sales machine, to weather any type of economic climate.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss the specifics of your situation.