What Can a Trip to Italy Teach You About Managing New Salespeople?
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My wife and I just returned from a trip to Italy with our four-year old son, his four-year old girlfriend,, and our good friends and neighbors - her parents. Italy was splendid but the trip was not without its challenges. Three of us are consultants and one is a doctor so, as we do in our work, we debriefed the trip and identified 43 lessons learned. By the way, if you strive for perfection, debriefing your coaching, accountability, motivational or recruiting events should always produce lessons learned or, as the doctor in our group would call it, morbidity and mortality rounds. Many of the 43 lessons are applicable to sales management. I've applied twenty of them below: 1. Don't let four-year olds lock themselves in a bathroom if you're not entirely certain they can get back out. (In Italy, these are tiny rooms with real locks as opposed to the stalls we have in the US.) It's great if your new salesperson lands an appointment with a desirable account. Just don't let them go in alone! You may find yourself having to kick in a door to salvage the day. 2. The locals are terrible at providing directions you can understand. Don't let your new salespeople ask the veterans what they're supposed to do. You may find your new salespeople golfing rather than prospecting for new business. 3. After a week, your four-year old's name will sound like a four-letter word. If you repeatedly mutter the name of a new salesperson it's time for a warning. Lay out some serious consequences. 4. If you need to drop your rental car off at a designated point in Rome, have a taxi lead you there and return you to your hotel - even if it is within walking distance. If you aren't totally certain of your salespeople's ability to execute as planned, tag along and show them the way. 5. Kids who refuse to walk severely limit your range. Salespeople who refuse to prospect severely limit your ability to grow sales. You must identify and weed out farmers prior to selection by using an effective sales specific pre-employment assessment. 6. Pack fewer clothes to leave more room for goodies purchased on the trip. Hiring fewer lousy salespeople or, the science of sales selection, leaves more money to hire stronger salespeople that can have a more immediate impact. You can sell more with less. 7. The "no bickering rule", if applied day one, would have prevented many unnecessary temper tantrums. If you clearly communicate your expectations for success, how to get there, and the consequences for failure to execute, you won't have to experience a temper tantrum of your own. 8. If you rent a villa, demand daily maid service with fresh towels and freshly sliced lemons. When you hire new salespeople, demand consistent daily prospecting so that you don't need to invoke the Lemon Law. 9. Story telling at restaurants encourages good behavior during meals. Tell lots of stories to pass on legacy information and to describe how to handle the various sales situations they will find themselves in. 10. Before you leave on vacation, make sure your friendship or relationship can withstand the stresses of kids, traffic, shopping, dining and multiple car accidents. Do not attempt to develop friendships with your salespeople or the relationship will prevent you from managing the stress of poor performance. 11. Expect the kids to be on their worst behavior. Always be optimistic about your outcomes but pessimistic about everything that can go wrong. 12. After two drivers and four car accidents, consider hiring a professional, local driver. If your new sales force is a train wreck, hire an expert to help with your selection process and development. 13. There's a reason Roman 5-Star hotels don't allow kids. And there's a reason that most successful sales organizations don't hire salespeople without relevant sales experience. 14. If you order fried steak, you'd better expect fried chicken. If you hire salespeople who possess a great resume and track record but don't subject them to a proper sales specific pre-employment assessment, expect an underperforming fraud. 15. When you're in a foreign land there's nothing like a helpful concierge. When your salespeople are in uncharted territory, there's nothing like an inside champion. 16. Gelato blows away ice cream. Kids will even behave to get some. Don't forget to provide incentives and awards when performance blows away expectations. 17. Don't attempt to drive a 9 passenger van through streets the width of a sidewalk. Don't ask your salespeople to do anything that hasn't been done before, or that they're not equipped or skilled enough to do. 18. Don't attempt to navigate the streets, alley ways and sidewalks of Rome with an inaccurate car rental map. Don't expect your new salespeople to navigate their sales calls without a clearly defined, mapped and proven selling process. 19. If you're at the ocean, leave time for a sail or cruise. If you're on a joint sales call, leave time to debrief the call. 20. Discover all of your villa's amenities on the day you arrive, not as you're about to leave. Make sure your new salespeople ask all the right questions on their first call. You don't want to learn the prospects' compelling reasons to buy after they bought from someone else. Use the comment link to add your own lessons learned and the corresponding sales management application.