As you may already know, I literally grew up in the painting industry. Over the decades (including 20+ years as an adult working and observing behind the scenes), I have seen my fair share of salespeople selling millions upon millions in painting projects each year.
On the other hand, I have also seen what I would call “order-takers” – those who remain average at best when it comes to sales.
Many of the underperforming order-takers are really not salespeople at all. Before I go much further, I should clarify that I’m talking about members of the sales team who work for a contracting company that has goals of at least $750,000 to 1MM a year (for each salesman). In order to hit or exceed a million dollars in sales each year, a paint estimator needs to move way past being just an order taker.
He or she needs to be a sales professional.
I have also seen salespeople who can easily sell upwards of $2MM a year. One of the reasons is because their company is well known in the industry and has a plethora of quality sales leads given to the estimators. Conversely, even this seemingly successful scenario could still be a case of simply taking orders and working in mediocrity.
This all works well in a solid economy when leads are not that difficult to come by. It’s a fragile system, though, and if there is not a good prospecting plan in place by each individual salesperson, there will inevitably come a time when sales will be a lot more difficult to close.
So, What’s the Difference Between a Sales Professional and an Order-Taker?
It’s actually pretty simple.
The professional salesperson is driven, ambitious, and goal-oriented. This individual will move heaven and earth to prospect, sell, and nurture his or her prospects and customers for life.
A driven individual does not give up until the sale is won or lost. He does not allow his sales pipeline to have dozens (or even hundreds!) of pending bids just collecting digital dust.
This professional focuses on hitting and exceeding goals – plain and simple.
This driven professional salesperson also commits to using a CRM. It might not be the most amazing CRM on the market, but he (or she) always has a next step in the sales cycle. He does not rely on his memory but on proven systems to sell.
How about that order taker?
Well, he/she just relies on his company to send him enough leads to keep him busy, and thinks he can be successful if he is given 15-20 bids a week. If he gets that, he’ll hit his sales goal. If the marketing department fails to get him the leads that week, it’s their fault. “I didn’t hit my sales goals last month because…”
This type of salesman is not a prospector. He waits for someone to reach back out to him to let him know he is ready to move forward with a project. This salesman is there to take the order, sell the job, and wait for the next prospect to line up and sign up.
Can an Average Salesman Change?
Yes! I believe people can change, and that an average salesman can become a professional, driven salesman. It is easy to lose hope quickly in an underperformer, and it is even easier to fire someone who is not hitting their goal. At the same time, it is extremely difficult to go on the hunt looking for that incredible seller. Those individuals are hard to find because, well, they’re successful, and that means that they’re likely not looking for another job.
If you want to find and hire a professional salesperson who, right off the bat, will hit $1.5MM+ a year with little or no supervision, you’ll have to find creative ways to reel him or her into your organization.
While there’s nothing wrong with looking for that incredible catch, you can still work on helping your average sales staff achieve the next level, both for their sake and yours. Admittedly, this will take a lot of work on your part if you are the owner or manager.
You will have to have regular meetings, goals, and sales training for your salespeople. You will have to help your sales staff move past being just average order takers, and empower and grow them into sales professionals.
Ready for a Simple Tip?
A simple way to start is to ask your sales team to read certain books on prospecting and selling. You might even read them together and discuss. If they’re disinterested or non-committal, you might have someone on your hands who isn’t willing to do what it takes to be a professional selling machine, and is simply comfortable with being average.
If you can grow them into a successful pro, you’ll have a committed, proven team member whose ethic will benefit them AND your organization as a whole.