At what point can a salesperson considered a proven professional?

Jon Flynn
We all know the salesperson, generally most everyone at some point (myself included), that has a couple of good months and suddenly thinks they should be a manager; they get a "dealer plate". They start not turning or touching the desk, desking their own deals, launching customers on self demos, etc. I currently have a couple of these misguided salespeople who have the potential to become true professionals, and am concerned with crushing or losing them by confronting them with the old school, "My way or the highway meeting." My thought process is to give them a number of total provable sales before they will be considered for a promotion. I personally think that until a salesperson has accumulated 500 deals (equivalent of 500 whole deals), they are still a junior apprentice. Until 500 sales has been achieved they have not greeted enough customers, investigated enough for buyers needs, done enough walk-around presentations, conducted enough demonstration drives, written up enough sales, or closed enough deals to be considered for any sort of management position. Even as management we all find we still miss some deals, so allowing an unseasoned salesperson to think they can make that decision is completely unacceptable. Furthermore, I also think that I should give them a demo, write-up, and closing percentage required for any consideration for such a promotion in the future. I know this is basic management stuff here, but I would like to try a different approach, more or less to see if it will motive by hope for gain rather than fear of loss. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Chris K Leslie
The truth of it all is that you have to start somewhere. A path to success that is visible and available to everyone is sorely needed in our industry. Often success or being successful at something is very suggestive. I think by installing a minimum standard could be a great motivator for many who might need to see what the goal line looks like. So I am with you on this and think it is a great idea. Have them read up on what's called the "Hot Hand Fallacy"
Sean Welsh
The only way to hold someone accountable is to give them goals and standards to achieve. Promotions should be based on how well someone adheres to their current goals and objectives. This is a great plan and I hope you see results. I love old school and think it works but only with new school data and metrics to support our case. Closing rates should reflect what steps in the process they are skipping and if you can show real data to support why these steps are crucial then they may be able to improve without all the yelling and old school rift raft. Numbers don't lie and how you feel or what you think you will only go so far with the next generation of car guy or gal.I also think a true professional is someone who dedicates their time to the craft and always tries to improve, that could take years depending on the person. ThanksSean
Keith Wilkerson
I'd hate to put a specific number on a promotion, but perhaps you can use that number as a goal for "consideration." One of the best quotes I ever heard about management promotion goes something like "dress for and start acting like the promotion you want." If a salesperson wants to be a manager, he/she needs to start dressing like a manager, thinking like a manager should, and leading like a manager should. When you have a top salesperson start doing that, and be willing to sacrifice a sale for him/herself for the promotion, then you have your next manager.
Lauren Moses
These are all great ideas and it's a great topic! Honestly, I have to say that setting a goal should be a first priority. If they don't know what to expect, how can they achieve it. And I agree with Keith about them dressing and acting like a manager. However, you don't want it to go to their head. Especially if they are already getting hot headed because they have had a few good months. What would keep them from acting like a manager and beginning to boss others around without the actual authority to do so. If they do though, then it lets you know that they aren't quite ready or mature enough to take on that role without some sort of guidance. Maybe start a step program. They have to meet certain goals, not only in sales, but maybe online reviews, follow-up process, etc. to prove that they can completely handle and know the processes before gaining that management title. It can also have a time minimum. Say that before you gain this title, you have to complete all of these steps to our standards and you have to be "apprenticed" for 6-8 months, or how ever long you deem necessary. And then they have a trial period out of the program to prove that they deserve to keep said title.
Keith Wilkerson
Lauren, you make a good point. Acting like a manager certainly does not mean "bossing people around." Manager is about teaching, coaching, leading by example, sacrifice, and putting the company's goals ahead of the individual's. Those traits need to be drilled into an ambitious salesperson's mindset. As far as setting a specific time frame for promotion, that can be a really sticky situation. A promotion should be to fill a need or an absence and not just because someone deserves a shot.

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