Sales Management II – What Managers Should Do for Off the Charts Selling

Sales Management II – What Managers Should Do for Off the Charts Selling

“A Sales manager’s job is to move sales people to do what works.” This is Part II of III – The “Do” of the key elements – “Move”, “Do”, and “What Works.”

The “Do”

“Do” means implementing the skills, techniques, strategies, and tactics of actually selling. Bottom line for the sales person, “Do” means go out and sell. But “Do” can mean more than just closing sales. “Do” means walking away and avoiding wasted time and resources. It means managing large accounts so they continue to buy more. It means cross selling, up-selling and pursuing referrals. “DO” means promoting the company brand and maintaining the goodwill of the company.

For the sales manager, it means making sure the sales person does the “Do” and follows a process. First the sales person must know what to “Do”. Second, s/he must prepare for the “Do”. Then, s/he must do/enact, and finally, s/he must review and evaluate what and how well s/he did.

These are the responsibilities of the manager as well as the sales person. The manager must make sure the sales person has the capability and skills – has demonstrated via role-play or on-the-job that he can sell. That is, work a selling process effectively. If not the manager must train, coach and mentor.

Before the sales person is sent out, the manager must review the preparation, for the encounters or sales calls – continuously at first, then frequently, then intermittently until he is satisfied the sales person is proficient at preparing, enacting and evaluating.

Preparation is the key to successful sales calls and sales strategies. CRMs miss the boat because 99% capture post sales call information which is usually random information picked from unstructured conversations or superfluous remarks captured after one-size-fits-all presentations.

CRMs would provide far more valuable information if they forced sales people to document beforehand;

1. The purpose of a call;
2. Who needs to be seen;
3. What information needs to be learned;
4. What information needs to be given; and
5. What commitments are sought.
In this way the manager can be sure the sales person is on the right track before he invests his time.

Then after the call, report the successes or partial successes and what next actions are required. This is valuable information for CRMs to capture which can then promote the sales person to further actions and alert/notify managers. Sales managers should inspect beforehand and review afterwards.

Confidence, Attunement, and Patience

To implement or sell or “Do” requires confidence, and the best way to attained confidence is through preparation, and practice.

Attunement — moving with a customer is another necessary ingredient for successful doing. As in fishing, the fish pulls on the line and you let him run with it. As it goes right, you go right, and so on. Eventually the fish has exhausted its energy (the prospect exhausts his thoughts) and now the salesperson can take the lead i.e. reel him in — ask more questions, clarify, present, close, or gain some commitments.

Patience is required to clarify and hold back before spewing out what you want to get across. Patience comes from confidence.
Confidence, attunement and patience create an engagement, an interaction – rather than a sermon, lecturer or presentation. It’s a take and give — take information and then give information. It takes confidence to let the prospect run on, and it takes attunement to listen for understanding, and it takes patience to let the prospect continue to explain. Preparation, role playing and practice are the best methods to gain confidence, and attunement, and patience.

Accountability

After the “Do” it’s time for analysis. For the sales person – did I “Do” what I prepared to do? Score it on a scale of 1 to 10? What worked — I should plan to do that again. What didn’t work, or what went poorly — I should modify that? What did I forget to ask, or discuss, or what didn’t I even think to discuss or ask — I should remember it for future do’s.

Again, it is the role of the manager to make sure the sales person does this analysis. Hold the sales person accountable that s/he did the preparation and analysis. The recap is critical. Without it old, ineffective behaviors will continue to produce the same old results.

Preparation is necessary to insure the sales person will “Do” the right behaviors – gets what’s needed and gives what the prospect wants to hear. Did the salesperson do what you both prepared — how did it work? Score on a scale 1 to 10? What needs to be modified? What didn’t he do? How come? What can you do to help him or her “Do” it better next time?

These steps by the manager are mandatory for 90% of your sales team. The other 10% — the best salespeople will do it by themselves. The 90% are like inertia — a body in motion (doing its thing) will continue to stay in motion (doing its thing) until influenced by an outside source (the manager). So if you want better results, hold the sale people accountable.

Metrics

Finally, the “Do” involves metrics — this is the analytical piece of accountability. Metric are mandatory to judge performance and gauge improvements.

What is your ultimate metrics for defining effective doing? My favorite is dollar volume of sales. Another could be percent against goal.

Then, there are the precursor metrics which indicate whether the ultimate metric will be attained, – number of sales calls, number of people engaged on a sales call, number of proposals per close, time with each customer.

Think through this. What metrics are precursors to your ultimate metric? Sales require proposals. Proposals require commitments. Commitments require presentations. Presentations require interviews, possibly with many buyers to determine individual’s needs and consensus. Interviews require sales call preparation. Sales calls require targeted prospects. Count the ones that predict your ultimate metric.

Establish the metrics that lead to your goal. Pick a few that really tell the story. Then monitor those early metrics, because if the early metrics are not met, you can be sure, the ultimate metric won’t be either.

Remember the behavioral metrics you scored 1-10 after sales calls and strategies. Is the person scoring above minimum? Is s/he improving? Break down your sales process into 4-5 behavioral elements and score against proficiency. Document what you expect and discuss his or her scores and your expectations for improvement.

So successful doing is just as big a function for the manager as it is of the sales person. The manager must train (teach them what works), coach (tell him or her what to “Do”), mentor (show him or her how to do it), and hold all accountable for selling behaviors as well as their metrics. Sales people must then “Do” what they’ve learned and been told to “Do” and measure up. If not the manager must determine how to move the person to “Do” it, or recruit a new sales person.

And now I invite you to learn more.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Can Your Superstar Sales Person Become Your Superstar Sales Manager

Finding the right person to fill the sales management role is a common quandary in wholesale distribution. It can be especially challenging when a decision is based strictly on sales territory performance without regard for the specific skill sets required to lead a sales force.. 2005 has been a good year in wholesale distribution with some industries recording double digit growth rates. With market cooperation like that, most sales people are smiling as they hit or exceed their quotas. Deciding on the right sales person to promote to sales manager can become a difficult and risky decision..

“We need a new sales manager. Let’s promote Tommy, he’s our leading producer in field sales.”

“No! We can’t afford to lose Tommy’s production in the field.”

“That’s not a problem. He can be a working sales manager and still call on his key accounts.”

Most of us should recognize that conversation but not many of us recognize the fallacies that lie within it. In wholesale distribution, it seems that the primary prerequisite for becoming a sales manager is being the top performing sales person. Promoting our top performing sales person to sales manager simply due to results is a big mistake. Personal experience tells me it has less than a forty percent chance for success. Our chance of success is decreased even further if we really believe that our sales manager can manage the sales force and still be solely responsible for a number of high volume accounts.

Different Skill Sets

It is an undisputable fact that different skill sets are required to become a successful sales manager as compared to being a successful sales person. Selling is a profession that requires professionals. Managing a group of professionals with the type of personalities required to succeed in sales is no easy task. Yet, in my humble opinion, it is probably the most important management position you can hold in a company. Sales management holds the key to meeting company objectives. Effective sales management builds the platform for success. Sales people are not the easiest group in the company to manage. If they were they would not be sales people. Selling is not easy. It takes a special talent, self motivation, self discipline, a passion to succeed and the ability to accept rejection. The reality of the situation is simple. The majority of sales people are not managed well. Let’s look at some common sales management mistakes to help us develop the list of hints I promised that will increase your ability to determine which sales person at your company is likely to succeed as sales manager.

Mistake —– Low tolerance for process.

Let’s face it, there probably isn’t a sales person alive that likes paperwork and administrative tasks. However, a Super Star Sales Manager will be process oriented. They understand that success in sales is driven by best practice and best practice is built around process. Sales effectiveness depends on predictable and repeatable best practice. The Super Star Sales Manager will create the kind of culture that negates the inherent aberration by sales people for process, structure, detailed and documented action planning.

HINT #1

If your star sales person embraces structure, pays attention to detail, is always current with required communications, documents his action planning process and doesn’t whine about administrative requirements passed down by corporate, chances are he/she will have a high tolerance for process. This means he/she possesses a basic understanding of structure and accountability. Everything isn’t locked up in their head just because they have been doing it a long time and have had great success.

Mistake —– Weak coaching and mentoring skills

Relationship equity is still a primary ingredient for sales success. However, relationship equity with the customer is quite different than relationship equity with peers, subordinates and executive management. A Super Star Sales Manager will build enough relationship equity with their sales force to be able to provide effective coaching and mentoring in reviewing the sales person’s activities. They understand that you must manage activities and measure results. This coaching and mentoring process includes buddy calls, monthly territory reviews that provide support and resources to leverage individual sales talent. This process includes opportunity recognition and pipeline management. What does the sales person have in the pipeline? Can the sales manager provide proactive support and resources to increase the chance of success?

Hint #2

If your star sales person is reluctant to accept or seek out help, this may be an indication of the Lone Wolf methodology. Maximizing territory performance requires a team effort. Utilization of all resources and support is mandatory to grow market share and maximize profitability. Look for the sales person that is successful but recognizes that they are not alone. Look for the sales person that shares the credit for success, coaches the inside sales staff, recognizes the contributions of customer service personnel and others in the organization. This sales person has also gained the respect of his peers and is often seen giving advice and sharing ideas.

Mistake —- Lack of development programs and leadership skills training

Leadership skills are extremely important to effective sales management. T

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off