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Why are you so afraid to “pull your reps out of the field”?

I’ve probably have heard the above statement 20 or 30 times per year for the last seven years. Whether we’re planning kickoffs, doing business reviews, or any kind of live, virtual, or on-demand training programs, sales leaders give me the same excuse time and time again, no matter what the industry:

I DON’T WANT TO PULL MY REPS OUT OF THE FIELD

Every time I hear that, I’m reminded of a story about John Chambers, the ex-CEO of Cisco. People used to ask Mr. Chambers if he was afraid to provide an exponential amount of skills training for his employees, knowing it was inevitable they would eventually leave the organization.

His response was that he would rather spend the money to train them and have them leave, than have mediocre employees stay. I paraphrased here, but what he was saying was that he would rather a skilled person leave after two or three years than have a mediocre person that lacks new innovation and skill stay in his business.

Sales leaders, it’s such a short-sighted mindset for you to tell your sales enablement or learning and development team that you don’t want to take your reps out of the field because every moment out of the field is money out of your pocket. That’s just not true!

Let’s break this down. Only 50% of your reps will make quota anyway – that means 50% of your hires are not meeting your needs. You may be afraid to take a step backwards – but what you’re doing is foregoing three steps forward to the future. In reality, taking your reps out of the field for an hour, or a half- or full day is absolutely miniscule compared to their total selling days for a year.

I want you to understand what that means. There are 250 business days in the year. If you took your reps out of the field for one day out of 250 business days, you’re only talking about 0.4% of their selling timeline. I’ve heard statistics that up to 33% of a seller’s time is wasted doing non-selling activities – so you’re only taking 0.4% of their total sellable time in a year, to take them out of the field to give them skills to accelerate their results for the remaining 99.6% of the rest of the year – so that every interaction they have is better, smarter, faster, and more efficient.

Honestly, the next time I hear a sales leader say, “I’m too afraid to pull my reps out of the field,” I may just speak up. I think it’s time to call leaders out and say ‘Would you rather have mediocrity and lack of innovation in your business for the other 249 days of your year – and then for your sales reps to make mistakes and get beaten by your competition?’

If you’re afraid to pull your sellers out of the field, while your competitors are pulling them out of theirs, have robust onboarding programs and quarterly learning experiences, and are running two to three major training initiatives a year – they have an absolute competitive advantage over you.

I really want you to reset your mindset – one day equals 0.4% of an entire year – it’s such a miniscule amount of time, but it can positively affect the other 99.6% of your year exponentially.

Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, “Social Selling Mastery – Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer”. A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000’s of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.



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