Gambling. Most of us have had a little experience with gambling. Some more than others. Whether the gambling occurs at a poker game with friends or family, horse races, casinos, lotteries, or professional sports, the experience is the same. Gambling can be fun, exciting and for some people, very addictive. The lure of the big payoff beckons us to roll the dice or to keep putting money into those losing slots. Not to mention the rush we feel when we do win any amount of money. Cha-ching!
But there are some things in life we should not want to gamble on. Do we really want to gamble with fate by running a red light? Do we gamble by putting off seeing a dentist when your tooth hurts because you don’t like going to the dentist? And down to the business we are all in, do we want to gamble on sales teams’ performance skills? The front line sales staff is the economic life line of any organization. While every department within a company is symbiotic, without an effective sales force moving product or service, there is no company. If there is no one buying what you are offering, something has to give.
So what is the best way to determine the effectiveness of your sales team? The most obvious is how they move product or service. Do they meet or exceed sales goals? If any one of your sales agents is on target, something right is happening. If they are exceeding target, then something really good is happening. Otherwise, there is a problem. If management suspects a problem because product isn’t moving, they usually look to sales first. However, sales agents are not necessarily the sole reason why product is not meeting sales goals. Like life, it is not always a simple black and white answer. Moving product is not the only measurement of success for a company.
Satisfaction surveys are widely used and have a valid function. Getting direct feedback from the consumer, companies can make adjustments accordingly. The one drawback of using satisfaction surveys as your sole measurement is that it is a post-sale measurement. It does not address if the agent knows how to effectively create the sale. Satisfaction surveys are good tools for measuring the buyers experience in terms of how they liked sales, customer service or design center associates. They can also tell you what negative occurrence the buyer believed they experienced. One thing that should be factored into satisfaction surveys is that people usually respond to how they feel about something or someone. They do not necessarily base their opinions based on fact.
So that brings us to the one 3rd party measuring tool that is factual. There are pros and cons to mystery shopping, also referred to as secret shopping. If done correctly, the process should always be under the ‘pro’ column. Secret shopping can bring a wealth of information to the table for both management as well as the sales professional. Using hidden video allows all vested parties to see and experience as the typical buyer does when visiting your community. Video shops allow you to see the agents’ expression, visual impact, and body language. Video shops capture the smile, the handshake, and the welcoming demeanor. Video shops also capture the opposite. Is the sales agent too preoccupied with a personal telephone call or their lunch to bother getting up off their chair to welcome a visitor? Is the agent dismissive by what they say and how they say it? Are arms folded telling the prospective buyer ‘don’t bother me’? At times when agent’s view their video shops they truly do have that ‘ah ha’ moment.
Video shops also provide you the ability to view how effective your physical plant is in terms of the selling environment. Is all material in one central location for your sales associate or do they need to run from one end of the office to the other to gather up collateral material? Is your sales associate forced to continually turn their backs to the prospect to explain a community/product feature? Is the sales center welcoming and conducive to a relaxed buyer’s experience?
Most of all, you need to conduct periodic secret shops to assess not only the basic essentials of a successful sales presentation, but to also determine if your agents know how to create the sale. Beyond meet, greet, qualifying, demonstrating, etc., do your agents proactively engage the prospect in conversation to reveal core information resulting in a product match? Do your agents have rapport building skills to discover who they are selling to? Or are the agents waiting for the sale to come to them thinking the product and community sells itself. Passivity in your sales center is never acceptable. The most successful companies secret shop their agents at least once a year. Many twice. That is being proactive. Others only call us when they think they have a problem. By then, it is usually too late
Don’t gamble on underperforming sales agents. You can’t afford it. You must make sure visitors to your sales centers are not turned away because who represents you is not doing their job. At LeBlanc & Associates, quality is not an option. We understand your investment should not be gambled away with a roll of the dice. When you need to confirm the strength of your current team or need a pre-hire skills assessment, then we are here to help. Give us a call!
Special Note: In our September edition of Smarter Selling, we wrote about recognizing buying signals from our prospects. It was brought to our attention that a similar article was written by Diane Masson of Marketing 2 Seniors. As the Smarter Selling article unintentionally corresponded in content, we felt it appropriate to give Diane credit for this topic in her senior living blog.