I’m going to state an opinion that your sales staff may not agree with: You can eliminate 20 to 50 percent of your sales reps. Really, think about it. Remember the old 80-20 rule that says that 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your sales reps? If this is true, then why are the underperforming 80 percent still on your payroll? Are they all relatives that you have to keep to eliminate friction in the family?
How many are actually bringing in more money than they are costing you? How many are just making social calls to your friendliest customers and an occasional attempt to get a new customer? Can some of your regular customers be handled professionally by your best inside customer service people? You can use the money you save on salaries, benefits, and expenses for these underperforming sales reps for more advertising, direct mail, literature— and, ultimately, profit. If the under-producers have been with your business for more than a year and are not carrying their weight, they never will. If they are not making the company money, then it’s time to say, “Adios, amigo”—now.
When you eliminate some of your sales reps, the others should do even better because they won’t want to be next on the bottom of the sales-rep list. If you have a sales rep who is great at servicing existing customers but not at selling new customers, consider moving that rep to customer service and review your least effective people there. Good people are hard to find and keep, especially sales reps, so feed your best ones and say farewell to your lowest producers. Unfortunately, downsizing is the way of business these days—but it should be to the benefit of your sales.