Those who take potshots at salespeople with comments like: "They just don't make salespeople like they used to," are off base. I'm never sure how far back they are reaching. More than 10 years ago, that was a different world. Of those who failed to change with the times I say, I'm glad that they don't make salespeople like that any more.

Managers unhappy with salespeople should look in the mirror. It could very well reveal that they are part of the problem. Their heads are in the sand; their eyes and ears are not focused on the floor covering market of today nor the residential and commercial consumers/specifiers/designers. There definitely are some serious flaws in their management style.

This industry's products have increased many-fold - in numbers and types. Those who still think in terms of a few products, like just carpet and resilient can't compare the past to now. A salesperson must know and understand a whole range of products - carpet (in many forms), resilient (in many forms), wood (in many forms), laminate floors, rugs, ceramics and stone. In addition the products, tools and accessories in use have also increased many-fold. Salespeople need to know and understand all of these things.

A manager who is truly a manager knows and accepts the responsibility for making sure that his salespeople are knowledgeable about every product in offered by the company. The direction and training must stem from the managers. They must seek out and implement the best of the wide range of training programs and information available.

If the salespeople are lagging in sales, it's a sure bet that management is dropping the education ball and failing to properly oversee the staff. If management is in fact providing the training, then any salesperson that falls down on the job should be canned. Likewise managers, who don't enforce training, should be canned.

The industry's products have changed (and will continue to change) and so have the consumers. They are better educated, more astute shoppers and they have high expectations for their purchases. They put value over price. Managers who recognize these important changes break their backs to ensure that their salespeople know exactly how to deal with the consumer of today by showing and selling the products that meet - or more correctly exceed - the consumer's expectation.

Today's salespeople must have a good understanding of installation and what floors go best for the site, where and how to properly install them. It is up to managers to make sure the salespeople are on top of installation.

So, if they don't make salespeople like they used to, then the biggest reason is the failure of managers to take the continuing steps that produce professional salespeople who produce profitable sales and satisfied customers.