Motivation and the Legacy Sales Rep - Short Attention Span Sales Tip
Theoretically, being a veteran/legacy sales rep with a large book of business is every print sales rep’s goal. We long for those sleepy, consistent days full of writing up reorders and visiting friends/clients. It took a lot of work to get here and reaping the rewards, we gently glide through the sales world.
Did you notice a strange word in that last sentence? It was, “Theoretically.” Wouldn’t you think it to be a no-brainer to be in that position? Well, sure, it’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t always play out that way.
The answer comes down to motivation. Starting out with nothing, the sales rep is fully and understandably motivated to sell, constantly looking for new business and new opportunities. As success comes, motivation wanes. I’ve spoken with numerous salespeople and selling owners who tell me that their goal was to get to $1 million. In speaking with those same people after they reach that number, almost all of them report being rudderless and a bit lost.
They never thought about what comes next.
For sales managers, motivating the legacy sales rep is incredibly difficult. We — and I will throw myself in with this lot — jump up and down and describe a situation where a large account is lost due to no fault of their own and a big chunk of their business goes bye-bye. We rail on about the need for growth. We point out that 10 to 15% of everyone’s business goes away every year. But our words fall on deaf ears.
Let me renew your motivation by scaring the hell out of you legacy salespeople who are in cruise control...
If you can, go back five years and make a list of your clients. If possible, dig out your sales volume for that previous 12 months. Next, compare that client list with your current accounts. What percentage of them are still around and still buying from you? My guess, based on nothing but a gut feeling, is that 30 to 50% of the accounts that you had five years ago are no longer on your dance card.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Taking another look at your list of existing customers, 30 to 50% of them will leave you. All clients are like waves. All waves hit the beach. They all have a lifecycle, a beginning and an end.
If you do not start looking for new business from new customers; if you do not create and sustain a prospecting process; if you do not start planning for the inevitable and eventual loss of almost half of your existing business, you face a future that pays you half of what you’re making right now.
Are you motivated yet?
Fortunately, staving off this problem is completely within your control. You need someone to call on, something to say, a process, and diligence. It’s not magic, it’s fundamental. You WILL lose business. That’s not a threat, that’s a promise. But I hope you hear it as a threat, to be honest. I hope that threat motivates you to do what other legacy sales reps refused to do: Prospect new customers for new business and do it consistently.
I hope this information disturbs you enough to commit yourself to growth. The worst phone call I get is one that starts out, “I’ve been following your stuff for a long time. My biggest account just moved out of town and I have a problem. Can we talk?”
The video version of this sales tip goes into more detail. You can view it above or click here.
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Bill Farquharson can be reached at (781) 934-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org