We encourage organisations to look at their people in three categories, ‘Gainers, Maintainers and Complainers.’ Whilst not specifically devised to describe members of sales teams, anyone who has ever been a member of a sales team will think it was. Here’s a quick rundown on these three groups.
Gainer: A salesperson described as a gainer is committed to continuous improvement of their business. A gainer understands that their business performance is directly linked to their ability to follow a well thought out plan and doing the behaviours that are productive on a day-to-day basis. A gainer will never complain, instead will look for support to meet their objectives. They are generally always willing to support the sales team in any way they can.
Maintainer: A maintainer is happy to allow their business to perform at its own pace. A maintainer will generally seek support to grow their business but will lack the ability to follow through on projects or just gets caught in the day-to-day activities. A maintainer is generally happy with their level of business as long as an issue does not directly impact them. Ideally, it is best to move maintainers to gainers.
Complainer: A salesperson described as a complainer lacks the skill set to manage and grow their business and is constantly frustrated with their own performance. they generally blame other elements as the problem, such as their account list, the product, the management etc for the situation they find themselves in. A complainer is quick to spread bad news and negativity. They are generally looking to recruit maintainers into the complainers team. Ideally, complainers should be moved out of the sales team completely.
From a training standpoint, knowing where a salesperson fits in these categories (and each one is a sliding scale, few people are 100% one thing 100% of the time), is part of our ‘trainability’ decision-making process. Let’s look at each one from a sales trainers point of view and from a sales managers point of view.
The Gainers are a sales managers dream. They are low maintenance. They’re team players. They’ll willing to help others and understand the ‘greater good’. They’re dependable and can always be counted on to deliver what they say they’ll deliver. From a training point of view, a sales manager may see no value in investing training pounds on a ‘Gainer’ with the view that ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ On the other hand, all salespeople need to be challenged, need to feel like their personal growth and development is important to the company. From a training point of view, a ‘Gainer’ may be the most important person to invest in. The reason many top performers leave a company is not money, it’s neglect. Taking a top performer’s numbers up another notch is great for both the salesperson and the company.
Maintainers exist in most sales teams. Sales managers can become frustrated with ‘Maintainers’ because of their apparent lack of concern about the growth of their business. Very often Maintainers are extremely personable people and have got by on charm for most of their careers. They’re so likeable that they often stay at a job for much longer than they perhaps should. They often take up the middle 50% of a sales team with Gainers making up 25% and complainers the other 25%. From a sales management point of view, they often talk about Maintainers in terms of ‘at least’: at least his customers like him; at least he often makes budget; at least he’s not always complaining; at least he doesn’t eat up my time like some of the others. In terms of sales training, ‘Maintainers’ are the salespeople that benefit most from long term reinforcement training. Over time, 'Maintainers' can learn to set goals, discover internal motivation, put time management processes in place and learn to prioritise their pay time and non-pay time activities.
Complainers are the reason sales managers often put in 55 hour weeks and spend that time putting out fires. Ideally, it is usually best to move ‘Complainers’ out of the company altogether. Often, however, sales managers find themselves locked in a cycle of enabling and victimising ‘Complainers’ – a relationship which is a no win situation. From a sales training point of view, this is where the sales manager might require some training and support. A learning program which includes learning to manage behaviours, learning to make sales people accountable for that behaviour, learning to take control of their time and learning to prospect and hire more ‘Gainers’ effectively will help sales managers take control of their sales teams.
Can you identify the ‘Gainers’, ‘Maintainers’ and ‘Complainers’ on your team? It might be helpful to make a list of where you think your sales team falls under those three categories and then take a careful look at where your time and energy is spent among each of those categories. If the lion’s share is going to the ‘Complainers’, it might be time to make some changes.
Free Guide to Being a More Successful Manager
What do you do to improve the outcomes of your performance when you’re conducting those sales meetings, providing the coaching, and delivering the training? In other words, what do you do to become a more effective sales manager? Most sales managers would answer, “Not much.”
In this report you will learn:
So, what can you do to improve your performance and be a better manager, mentor, and motivator?