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Your sales department “garden” needs some weeding

As we recover from the recession—slow as the process is —we see companies look to upgrade their sales teams. They want to get rid of their marginal performers and fill those spots with fresh sales talent. That’s a great idea! I call this “weeding your sales garden.”

If your sales force were a garden, what would it look like right now? This weeding process can apply to all the departments in your company. I’ve just chosen Sales because we have extra heavy activity in it right now. To find out if you should put your master gardening skills into play on your sales force, read on.

By getting rid of non-performers, you make room for new performers. It’s like your garden. If you don’t pull out those weeds, the healthy plants won’t have room to grow. If you think you may need some weeding, here are some suggestions to help you in your process.

  • First, do a thorough analysis of your sales team.
    Be honest with yourself. Who is not performing-whom should you “pull”? Usually the formula is something like this – if you have a sales team of five people, you’ll have one who’s a superstar, three who are hitting (maybe just barely) their numbers, and one who is not hitting the numbers. That one may be the weed. Some questions to help you define that? How long has he missed on the numbers; are there any extenuating circumstances; what’s his attitude like? If there’s a question, give it a little longer. Sometimes, it’s easy to mistake a flower for a weed. Give your salesperson some extra coaching (fertilizing), along with special encouragement— and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised. But, if not, make that tough decision— make the change.
  • Make the decision.
    Make a plan today to replace that weed with a potential high-blooming flower. Have a time frame to hire a replacement. Have a date in mind when you would like that new person to start. Then look for a replacement. Alert your search firm to the problem. (Hiring in this market should take you anywhere from 4 to 7 weeks.) You may be surprised to know that most salespeople who are not performing know it, and sometimes they are almost grateful when you let them go. Remember, what may have been a weed in your garden, may bloom beautifully for someone else!
  • The Golden Rule.
    If you find yourself hesitating, remember this “golden rule” – Good salespeople want to be around good salespeople! This is the most important reason to weed your sales garden. If you don’t weed out your non-performers, you stand a great chance of losing your superstars. Yes, good salespeople want to be around other good salespeople. And, when they are in a company where bad sales performance is tolerated, they don’t like it. It brings them down. And, in the end, if the situation remains unchanged, they leave. Just like the garden. If you don’t pull those weeds, you’re going to lose your superstar flowers.
  • Seize the moment!
    Now is a good time. The market is good for replanting your garden – I mean sales force! There’s a reasonably healthy supply of good salespeople out there who are looking for their next opportunity. And, there are great salespeople who are stuck in companies that are under-performing for a number of reasons. Seize this opportunity to capitalize on that market and start your search today.

Philip Kemper is Founder/President of Kemper Associates, a 37-year-old Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in Permanent and Contract staffing for Trade Shows and Exhibits, Staging and Equipment Rental, Business Meetings and Events Production, Video, Training and Incentives and more. His more complete bio is on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/philip-kemper/2/795/308/. You may view Kemper Associates’ website at: www.Kemperassociates.net, and contact Phil with questions or comments, and employment needs at: Kemperassoc@hotmail.com, or his private phone line: (312) 944-6551.

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