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Sharpen the Saw

Sharpen the saw
If a member of your sales team is not performing, then that person is either not doing sufficient actions to achieve desired results, or is performing sales actions incompetently, or a combination of both. Most likely it’s a combination of the two.

Unless you do something about this, your salesperson will enter a slump and most likely stay there. You must take pre-emptive action, and the sooner the better. You must test each salesperson’s KNOWLEDGE, and you must test it regularly – yearly at least.

There is a saying that says, “Get an incompetent person to work harder and all you have is a hardworking idiot”. I believe this. There’s no point getting a salesperson to increase his actions until you know that his knowledge levels are satisfactory. You don’t want him working hard but presenting incompetently, so the first thing to do is test his knowledge and skill.

Have your salesperson sit a written test on your sales programs. You have to test her ability to negotiate, close, communicate, list, work with her listed sellers, and her ability to select the right buyers and work with them. The test must be comprehensive and the salesperson must get a pass mark of 90 percent or higher.

When a salesperson fails, he or she must study and sit the test again, and keep doing this until passing with 90 percent or greater.

We call this ‘sharpening the saw’. You don’t cut much timber with a blunt saw. Instead of sawing away with a saw that doesn’t cut, the smart thing to do is sharpen the saw first, and then do the cutting.

Nor do you close much business if your skill levels aren’t sharp. Study sharpens your mental saw.

Over the years, I’ve tested the knowledge of many teams. Never once have I seen it any different to this: the number one in KNOWLEDGE, is the number one in RESULTS; the lowest in knowledge is the lowest in results.

Allow your team’s knowledge to fall, and so will its results.

You might think it excessive that a salesperson be given knowledge tests regularly, but think about it: salespeople get tested all the time. Every time a seller says, “Stephen, why should I list with you?“, Stephen is given a test. Do you want him to respond with the right words? Then put them in his head through training meetings, attending seminars, and insisting that he studies his craft through books and recorded programs. If you want the RIGHT WORDS to come out of your salespeople’s mouths at the RIGHT TIME, you have to be sure that the right words are in their heads, that their knowledge levels remain high.

Most, and I mean most, practitioners in our industry have a disregard for training. That is why most struggle. I think that it’s a joke that in NSW a salesperson must achieve 12 CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Points in a twelve month period in order to renew their qualifications. They can achieve 12 points in six hours of study. Six hours per year is nowhere near enough to do a good job; it’s certainly nowhere near enough to remain at the top of your game.

To maintain an acceptable level of skill, a salesperson needs at least 7 full days of training a year, a total 42 hours’ face-to-face training. In addition to that they should be listening to at least 50 hours of CD training and read 12 books per year. This is the minimum. Anything less and their knowledge and skills decay.

I’ve never heard of a true winner that whines about attending training. I have heard many mediocre performers whine about training over the years. These people are ‘cannon fodder’ and are the first to leave when the market turns ‘interesting’.

Show me one legitimate profession where you can earn a six-figure income without knowing what you are doing. The best train. The best stay sharp.

And leaders, YOU set the standard. If you aren’t studying Leadership, your team won’t study Sales. Work on you first, and then work on the team.

Sharpen your saw and see that your team does the same. You will win more business, morale will be higher, and you will feel like a leader in control.

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