How would you rate the skill level of each of your sales people? What are you doing to improve each person’s skill level? In other words are your sales people as good as you think they should be and if not, what are you doing about it.

Sales goals are made or missed because of management. Good managers keep their fingers on the pulse of business. They know what to expect and if those standards are not being met, they takes actions to make their salespeople better. Better means selling more, but selling more requires improving sales people’s selling skills.

Here's the process I used to coach sales managers:

1. Rate each of your sales people on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 - lowest level).

2. Write down the strengths and weaknesses of each of those people. I. E. for the weaknesses what knowledge, ability, attributes, skill, etc. does this person have to attain to become a better sales person? What’s keeping him or her back? What strengths is this person lacking?

3. On a totally separate piece of paper list all the skills, knowledge, attributes, abilities that you would expect for a level 1, level 2, level 3, etc. Some skills will progress with each level, and others may stand alone in at a particular level.

An example of a progression is: Level 1 -- No knowledge of industry; level 2 -- learning the industry; level 3 -- knows jargon, needs, and some of the players; level 4 -- well versed in the industry, knows most of the players, know basic and complex issues and opportunities; level 5 -- respected in the industry by associates, clients and those outside his or her company.

An example of a standalone is: level 3 -- ability to consistently ask for commitment.

4. Now, look at the strengths and weaknesses of each sales person. Compare those to the characteristics for the level you chose for that person. You'll notice you missed some characteristics that define the level and didn't include some for the person.

For example, Joe is a level II and has trouble learning the issues and concerns of the prospects he interviews. However, when you are preparing the level characteristics, you left out "probing prospect to learn issues and concerns". Similarly, level III requires the ability to introduce new ideas to the prospect, so as to entice him. Yet when you listed Joe's weaknesses, you forgot "ability to expose and entice".

5. Redo the levels and redo the salespeople's weaknesses, incorporating the characteristics that you missed in each. This will give you a more complete description of the levels, as well as a better listing of the individual's weaknesses.

Now that you have both your standard and a list of the missing attributes, abilities, skills, etc. that are required to get a particular sales person to the next level, you basically have that sales person's development plan.

6. Build an action plan for each person to progress to the next level. In other words, what will you (or someone else) do to show the sales person how to attain the skills or overcome the weaknesses; what does the sales person have to do; when will it be accomplished by and; how will you know (the metric) that the sales person has attain the skill or overcome the weakness.

Although this six step plan sounds like a lot, it’s really very simple. By selecting a level for each person and defining his or her weaknesses, and then separately determining skills for each level, you'll easily be able to build the perfect level description and see the development issues for each individual. Then you'll know exactly what you'll have to do to help that person improve. You'll also realize very quickly what’s holding the sales person back from selling more.

More importantly it provides you and your sales person, a great communication tool. Your expectations and development requirements for this individual will be defined, direct and systematic. There will be no misunderstandings and these development plans will help your sales people improve quickly. So try it, and I guarantee you'll be pleased with the outcome.

Remember, if you want better (more sales), sales people, you've got to improve their sales skills levels. If you, the manager, don't build and enforce the plan for an individual’s improvement, it will not get done. Few salespeople try to improve themselves. They have to be motivated (pushed and directed) by their management.

Sales goals are made and missed because of sales managers.

And now I invite you to learn more.

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Author's Bio: 

Sam Manfer is an expert sales person, entertaining key note speaker and author of TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$, a book that gets C-Level and other influential decision-makers to meet with you and return voicemails. Sam makes it easy for any sales person to generate tons of quality leads, and become a 70% closer. Sign-Up for Sam’s FREE Advanced Sales Training Tips and Articles at