A Career in Sales Is Not For Everyone

Michele Warg
Posted by in Sales

Even the most dynamite sales team may not have the best salespeople working for it. Sometimes, managers or team members may realize that a sales career just isn't for them. Assessing the situation could be the best way to determine which team members fit and which salespeople should find a different task to do.

David Jacoby of Salesforce.com learned some lessons simply by assisting his wife and daughter with Girl Scout cookie sales. Jacoby's wife, a troop leader, asked her husband to share some sales team strategies. This microcosmic sales lesson presented a unique opportunity to have a case study in how sales work.

The troop leader defined a set of goals for the sales team. The group decided they wanted to use the profits from cookie sales to go horseback riding the following month at a nearby horse farm. The team leader then calculated how many boxes the troop needed to sell. The troop leader used a simple methodology with specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals. The acronym breaks down to SMART.

Next, the group set about defining a sales strategy. A combination of sales to friends and family, along with selling at various sites in town, leads to attaining the overall goal. Friends and family create a good base for sales, yet selling outside of a grocery store presents the troop with hundreds of shoppers already coming into the store. The troop leader should then train the sales team on how to sell cookies.

Other strategies include seeing what worked in the past, reaching out to customers early and altering the plan, if necessary. The troop probably knows how many boxes it sold last year, especially if the price per box remains the same from year to year. Using this as a base, Girl Scouts can alert their customers in January that cookie time is right around the corner after the winter holidays end. Site sales are important, but if inclement weather or a family sickness gets in the way, try the store sales later if the sales team deals with circumstances beyond its control.

In the end, the troop determined not everyone is cut out for a sales career. At grocery store sites, the troop leader placed the most outgoing girls as greeters to ask who wants to buy cookies, while the shyest girls made change, collected money and distributed boxes of cookies. The team effort still leads to the overall goal of horseback riding.

Jacoby notes that as many as one-third of all salespeople are not suited for the jobs they have, including members of his daughter's Girl Scout troop. However, hard workers can still be placed in behind-the-scenes roles as account managers, customer service representatives and data miners. Team leaders should not eschew good employees simply because they do not perform at high levels for sales. A good manager knows how to place his employees properly on the team.

A sales team is greater than the sum of its parts, even if someone may not be cut out for selling products and services to clients. People sitting in front of a computer or taking incoming calls all day are just as valuable as someone who lands a multimillion dollar contract.

Photo courtesy of Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar at Flickr.com



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