Effort or Experience? If You Must Choose, Which One Do You Pick?

The ultimate question for managers.  Most want both, and if you can find a salesperson that does both, do whatever you can to keep that person forever.  However, many times it’s a struggle.  For one reason or another, experience leads to less effort and sales behaviors that have the potential of harming the department.

So I ask the question – How do you handle the experienced salesperson who can put up some numbers but doesn’t exude the principles and effort that you would like in your department?

Here is the rub.  Salespeople believe that as long as they are putting up numbers that everything is okay.  They believe that revenue dominates every other action that may be displayed.  To a certain point, they are correct, however, we all know that other actions are taken into consideration.

This situation can be defined in that age old saying “Risk vs Reward”.  How much do you value this salesperson’s production versus the potential damage that is being done to the department.

REWARDS:

Revenue:  The largest reward for having an experienced salesperson is generally revenue.  As a whole, experience equates to more revenue…most of the time.

Mentorship:  A more experienced salesperson can offer tips based on past experiences to younger salespeople.  This often times can curb the learning curve for younger reps.

Managerial Support:  Managers don’t know it all, although they may argue they do, and need assistance in coming with ideas and keeping a pulse of the sales floor.  Experienced salespeople can act as a resource to the manager on both of these tasks.

RISKS:

Sales Behaviors:  Reps who have been selling for a number of years often have a formula that has worked for them.  They develop behaviors that have been picked up over the years.  Some of these behaviors are good and others not so good.

Follow the Wrong Leader:  While experienced reps can offer mentorship, sometimes this is not what a manager would want.  More times that not, younger reps need to exude superior effort to make up for their lack of experience.  Younger reps can’t necessarily follow the formula that experienced salespeople are using.

Think Rules Do Not Apply:  Success breeds arrogance.  More experienced salespeople are generally more successful and thus think that effort metrics or other sales procedures do not apply to them.  This can kill a culture.

Believe Your System Isn’t Good:  If something has worked, why would we look to a different formula?  If you think this is a good strategy you should read case studies on Kodak and IBM.  With that said, salespeople often develop a system over time that has worked for them.  Managers are charged with developing a system that works for the entire department and at times these two systems don’t coincide well.  If a salesperson pushes back against the managers system, you could lose the entire department.

In closing, you’ll get more revenue from an experienced rep.  If the rewards outweigh the risks, carry on.

However, if the risks identified above outweigh the rewards, you’re most likely losing revenue from having this salesperson on your team.  If younger reps are following a formula that can’t possibly work for them, and the culture is going south, the department as a whole will be damaged.  While it may be very difficult to move on a good seller, sometimes you can generate more revenue by doing such.

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1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Sports Business Management and commented:
    Great question! What would you choose?

    Reply

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