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.

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5 Fallacies of Sales Management

Sales management can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Over the years, I have seen both management styles succeed. Since there is a significant variance in the way in which sales managers operate, it stands to reason that there are misconceptions both by observers and managers themselves. I would like to list the 5 fallacies of sales management that tend to surfaces often in the workplace:

Must be the best sales person in the group. How often have you heard this? How often have you seen this implemented? Many times! Well, this concept is simply not true. So often though, the best sales people in a group surfaces as the front runner and eventual winner of the promotion to a sales management post. I equate this to sports. Was Vince Lombardi the best football player at his position prior to revolutionizing his sport? Scotty Bowman won 9 Stanley Cups as a coach but never performed above the minor league level in his sport. There are countless examples of my point. Placing the best sales person in the management position will often demoralize the candidate and rob the company of an important sales asset on the front lines. High level sales people tend towards tactics were as this talent is only a portion of the sales management role.

Needs to be the “Closer-in-Chief”. This could be one of the most important of the 5 fallacies of sales management. We have all heard sales managers remind us to “bring me in when you are ready to close the deal”. I am sure that there are many managers who excel in this area and their talents should be leveraged when appropriate. The truth is that closing, just like every other stage of the selling process, should be lead by whatever resource gives the team the best chance to win. Presuming that you, as sales manager, is the go to person for one specific aspect of the sales plan is a mistake.

Adopts the Cheerleading Principle. Motivation is crucial to any organization but is particularly true of a sales team. Given the high level of rejection they experience, plus the importance of many of their sales projects to the health of their company, maintaining a positive state of mind is important. Although I agree, that the leadership of the group must take some responsibility for this, I hold that as a professional, each sales person must take ownership of their own state of mind. Some of our motivation must come from within. The confidence to succeed ultimately can not be totally reliant on the sales manager’s pep rallies or performance related rewards. Sustained confidence and determination to win eventually must come from within each of us.

Must approve all tactical sales plans. This may surprise some of you. It is a considerable responsibility to become the gate for all sales plans. Now, I’m not saying that a sales manager shouldn’t participate in the sales plan development of the team. In fact, sales management absolutely must oversee the planning stage of any significant sales project. But do all strategic/tactical aspects of a plan require the sales manager’s approval? I would argue that some leeway should be given the lead sales professional in terms of plan ownership. It would be very easy for a rep to relegate the responsibility for success to a sales manager who insists on approving every aspect of a sales process. Let the account managers have some ability to “make the call” on how the sales team should proceed in a given situation since they generally have a more intimate view of the details at work as well as the players involved. Delegate but checks, check, check as the Marines are famous for saying!

Fix only what is broken. No. No. No. This strategy turns a sales manager into a fire extinguisher, moving from problem to disaster. Before long, major aspects of a manger’s responsibility suffer for lack of attention and become problems in the making. Sure, when things go wrong, we are expected to step in and guide the team to a solution. The visionary sales manager, though, is looking to expand on the positives. This manager takes a winning process and considers how it can be bettered or replicated. Authorship is unimportant whereas leveraging proven processes regardless of where they came from can be the key to consistent success.
Do not let these fallacies define your management experience. Know your strengths, get out of the way when it makes sense, and leverage the positives that can be reproduced. Do this and you will have side stepped the 5 fallacies of sales management.

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