Tag Archives: how to be a better sales manager

Which Half of Your Sales Management Effort is Working?

John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half!”

This is, of course, the reason frequency is such an important element of marketing.

It is also an important element of selling and of sales management. We must be diligent in our efforts to maintain a proactive and persistent posture when selling, and we must do the same when engaged in sales management; which many believe is simply a “higher level of selling.”

The key reason for this fact is that we can never be sure about which component of our effort is going to be effective at any specific time.

In other words, time spent coaching a Rep today may, in fact, pay off immediately or it may not pay off for a month or two; time spent presenting good reasons for a policy or procedure may not truly result in team buy-in on the spot, but might do so over time. Just like John Wanamaker, we just can’t be sure.

If we fail to interact with our customers, prospects or sales people with sufficient frequency, and if we fail to reaffirm the value associated with our products, services and our organizations, as well as our personal value, then we will most likely fail as sales people and sales managers.

This requires consistent, straightforward and strategic communication. Not only must we possess strong communication skills, but we must also (as the term implies) plan our approach. While many tend to think about communication in terms of “speaking,” the truly critical skills are:

  • Planning
  • Probing
  • Listening
  • Proactive style

As prudent sales managers, we must be aware of the critical role our communication plays in the day-to-day execution of our jobs, and the significant impact it has on the people we lead… how it can help us engage the team!

Thus the importance of the above-listed critical skills.

We should also be ever-aware of the importance of establishing and reaffirming our personal value — the value we provide to our sales team each and every day; the value we provide by helping them achieve success; the value we provide by helping them maintain focus on the right things; the value we provide by helping the close business; and the value we provide by continually reminding them that the job can be done and they can do it.

Sales Management & the Rear-view Mirror…

rearviewIn a recent LinkedIn Pulse article, sales behavior and productivity expert Robert Roseberry shared data indicating that over 40% of all sales people fail to hit their annual goal.

The three primary reasons given:

  1. Ineffective use of CRM systems
  2. Poorly trained sales managers
  3. Too much focus on trailing indicators

Balancing the Rear View Mirror
While we regularly encounter all three of the root causes, it is the third culprit that is the most prevalent.

Given the proliferation of “data” it is easy for managers and business leaders to focus on metrics. But managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month, quarter or year!

Circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly in terms of lost opportunities if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

Instead, sales leaders can be much more effective if the develop and implement a managerial process that incorporates real-time awareness of performance and a systematic means of impacting that performance “before” its’ too late!

Read more…

Proactive Sales Management: Balancing the Rear-view Mirror?

salesmgmt2A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month or quarter.

Circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing, and while the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly in terms of lost opportunities if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

Instead, a proactive approach to sales management and leadership will involve:

  • A systematic method of interacting with the team on a group-basis
  • A systematic method of interacting with each team member on an individual basis
  • Ongoing individual assessment via sales call monitoring and joint sales calls
  • Proactive field support
  • Team building & motivation
  • Ongoing engagement, training and improvement plan

Read the full article…

Balance the “Rear-view Mirror” With a Proactive Performance Management Plan

A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Balancing the Rear View Mirror
Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month, quarter or trimester.

Consider that circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly (in terms of lost opportunities) if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

As an alternative, the best approach is to adhere to a comprehensive and proactive performance management plan.

Read the full article…

Sales Leads?

leadership4Looking at a familiar phrase from a different perspective, how does your organization’s leadership lead or impact the selling process?

Many experts agree that the culture of any given enterprise is a reflection of its leadership, and that the sales force tends to mirror that culture when interacting with customers and prospects.

“I’ve never seen a company that was able to satisfy its customers that did not also satisfy its employees,” said Larry Bossidy former CEO Allied Signal, Inc. “Employees will treat your customers no better than you treat your employees.”

As leaders, we have a profound impact on how our sales people interact with the marketplace each day, as both the direct and implied messages they convey are based upon their impressions of our position and posture on a range of issues, including how we talk about and treat customers.

Similarly, if the sales force is not enjoying high-levels of success in the marketplace, our cultural approach to improving their performance — i.e., building upon strengths versus focusing on weaknesses — can significantly impact their success or failure.

As stated in a report by Optima Media Group entitled Driving Corporate Culture for Business Success, “The CEO and the senior management team is the single most critical success factor in a culture change effort; they must personally live and role model cultural ethos.”

If this perspective rings true to you, read the full article for a list of five ways to positively lead or impact the selling process.

Another Viewpoint on Leading a Sales Force

leadership4As a follow-up to our previous post, a recent article published on allinnetworking.com asks, “Are You the Julius Caesar of Sales Management?”

The perspective is consistent with many of our sales management-related posts, and suggests that great leaders share the following three attributes that are key components of engaging and motivating a team:

  1. They understand the people who are being led
  2. They lead by example
  3. They possess and exhibit a belief in the ability of those being led

See related article…

Sales Leads?

leadership4
Leadership can positively impact the sales process… or not!

Looking at a familiar phrase from a different perspective, how does your organization’s leadership lead or impact the selling process?

Many experts agree that the culture of any given enterprise is a reflection of its leadership, and that the sales force tends to mirror that culture when interacting with customers and prospects.

“I’ve never seen a company that was able to satisfy its customers that did not also satisfy its employees,” said Larry Bossidy former CEO Allied Signal, Inc. “Employees will treat your customers no better than you treat your employees.”

Read the full article for 5 ways leadership can positively impact sales…

Sales Managers: Do You Qualify?

qualify2Just as qualifying customers and prospects is a critical step in the selling process, it is also a necessary component of prudent sales management.

Many believe that sales management consists of leadership, managerial skills, and a higher level of selling – that is, sales managers must often sell to the sales force. [see related article].

And in so doing, so too must they continually qualify members of the sales force, who, in these instances, take on the role of “internal” customers.

To point out a few parallels, consider that successful sales people qualify their customers and prospects during the early stages of the selling process. While qualification can cover a wide range of issues, key areas involve:

  • Confirming interest, motivation and urgency levels, and that the overall needs are real
  • Determining if the buyer is giving us serious consideration
  • Identifying priorities or special needs, such as quick delivery or modified payment terms, that can often make or break the sale
  • Confirming that each customer or prospect has the budget and wherewithal to acquire the products or services
  • Confirming the basis on which decisions will be made and how the evaluation process will work. This includes identifying decision makers as well as influencers
  • Assessing each buyer’s knowledge level with respect to product and service offerings and his or her ability to properly evaluate proposed solutions

Now let’s look at the similarities that exist in a sales management scenario.

Prior to setting sales strategies or assessing a sales person’s portfolio of pending business, a sales manager must qualify the overall situation. The first step will involve a discussion on how thoroughly the sales person has qualified his or her customers / prospects.

Next, regardless of a sales person’s tenure, he or she must be motivated; and self-motivation can only go so far. The wise sales manager always checks motivation levels, and is ready to provide the necessary incentive or inspiration.  Of course people’s attitudes and motivational needs fluctuate on a regular basis; so as part of the ongoing qualification process, sales managers must also determine the best motivational strategy for each situation.

And speaking of attitude, does each sales person have confidence in our solution? Does he or she have the proper sense of urgency?

Do we have everyone’s buy-in on company policies and procedures? The company mission?

It’s also important for sales managers to confirm the actual steps that have been taken to facilitate the sales process. Have our strategies been properly implemented?

Similarly, sales managers must continually assess the team’s knowledge level. Do we have the skills to carry out sales plans? Are selling skills consistently applied? Do we need additional product or systems training? Are we focused on benefits and value or do our presentations simply tout features and price?

“Many in sales management think that they have been called to command. In reality, they have really been called to a higher level of sales,” says author and founder of makingthenumbers.com Jack Falvey.

So in summary, not only must we know how to qualify our customers and prospects, but also our sales team!

Workforce Engagement & the Benefit of Hope

hope2Selling takes place at many levels.

To quote colleague and friend Jack Falvey, “All great leaders were great sales people!”

While many of us sell products and services to our customers or clients, others who are business owners, managers or leaders must also “sell” important concepts, policies and procedures to team members every day; as noted in our previous post, they must “sell” change… they must “sell” the future…

They must “sell” and promote a culture of engagement.

If this rings true to you, then it might also be worth noting that regardless of the venue, the most successful sellers are those who are able to identify, promote, and reinforce the right benefits. So when interacting with our employees − often referred to as internal customers − maybe a good portion of our leadership mission this coming year should be to promote the benefit of hope.

Hope for a secure future; hope and belief in their ability to achieve success despite the day-to-day challenges we all might face, despite the competition, and despite the “FUD” factor described in our previous post.

If engagement is, at least to some degree, a function of confidence and attitude, then strong leaders might do well to become the catalysts for continually increasing a hopeful perspective.

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