Why is Sales Management so Tough
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Sales Management --Unmask the Confusion of Territory Account Assignment - By Dr. Rick Johnson
This question has challenged every business and leader since even before the days of "The Death of a Salesman" a great book by Arthur Miller. Managing a sales force is quite different from selling to a customer. It requires different skill sets. And yet a common mistake we make when filling the Sales Managers position is that we take our top sales person and promote them to Sales Manager. That decision fails more often then it succeeds. The reason is simple --- "A Sales Managers primary responsibility is not to focus on selling". The Sales Managers primary responsibility is to focus on the promotion of sales. It's about leadership.
Greenberg, Weinstein & Sweeney in their book, How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer report the following statistics:
• 55% of the people working in sales should be doing something else
• 20 to 25% have what it takes to sell but they should be selling a different product
Wow, if we believe these authors, they are telling us that more than 50% of our sales people will never meet our expectations. (unless we lower them or they are members of the lucky territory club) That makes the position of Sales Manager even more critical to the success of the organization. I've been in sales over thirty five years and my eyes were opened wide when I read those statistics. No wonder sales management is so tough.
Finding the right person to fill the sales management role is a common quandary in business today regardless of the industry you serve. 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. Until the recession began, most companies enjoyed sales success with some industries even recording double digit growth rates. With market cooperation like that, the majority of sales people were smiling as they hit or exceeded their quotas. However, today the fish are no longer jumping into the boat. Today, it takes professional sales people and professional sales management to overcome the external market forces that drive our economy. Deciding on the right person to promote to sales manager may be the most critical decision you could make in 2010. It can become a difficult and risky decision.
"We need a new sales manager; Lets 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 many businesses, 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 the point of the spear. Nothing happens until you sell something. Sales managers are the ones responsible for pointing and guiding that spear.
Sales People are Special
Sales people are not the easiest group in the company to manage; they are special types of individuals. If they were easy to manage they would not be sales people and I am including inside sales people and other forms of sales people in that equation; (counter sales, outcall and customer service). Selling is not easy. It takes 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."
Managing a sales force in any industry is no easy task. Sales management is a science but it requires a substantial amount of personal leadership built on the concepts of coaching and mentoring the sales force.
Sales Management Responsibilities
1. Developing the Sales Strategy --- Creating a discipline within the sales force to identify specific growth targets which include:
• Increased penetration of existing accounts
• New account development, pipeline management
• New product introduction and promotion
2. Developing the Sales Force --- A key responsibility is self development and required leadership skills that enhance your ability to manage the sales force.
• Coaching and mentoring
• Providing training resources
• Hands on buddy calls
• Monthly territory/account discussions and review sessions. (one on one)
• May include showroom management
• Policy & procedure enforcement
3. Manage Activities - Measure Results --- Defining key activities and then managing those activities is a prerequisite to success.
• Design a sales effectiveness process that requires account action planning activities that include but are not limited to:
--- Goal setting
--- Opportunity reporting
--- Pipeline management
--- Performance scorecards
4. Advertisement & Promotions --- This is budget based but should include the following:
• Open house
• Lunch & learn
• Client seminars
• Social and event selling
• Public awareness, speaking and writing articles
• Testimonials and referrals
• SPIFS (Special Performance Incentive Formulas) and promotions
A Sales Managers Responsibility Does Not Focus on Selling but it Does Focus on the Promotion of Sales. (E-mail email@example.com for a template to create plasticized cards outlining the characteristics of the professional sales manager and the "Sales Management Leadership Quiz.".)
Basic Formula for Sales Management Success:
Make sure your sales management understands best practice principles and teach them the basic formula for success. That formula is quite simple.
• The Right People
A resume tells you what person has done. It does not tell you who they are! Interviews are predominantly subjective. The interviewee is generally prepared. Create some objective job related quizzes. Establish a recruitment process that creates a pipeline to exceptional sales people.
• The Right Structure
Structure is more essential to sales than any other function!
--- Territories & Accounts
--- Compensation & SPIFs --- Communication Channel
• The Right Process
A platform for Sales effectiveness that defines sales best practices.
--- T.O.A.D. (Territory Opportunity Action-planning Discussions)
--- Coaching & Mentoring --- Effective Sales Meetings
--- Performance Score Cards
• The Right Strategy ---- Built Around Best Practice
--- Goal Setting --- --- Action Planning
--- Alignment with Corporate Initiatives
• The Right Development
--- Clarity in Job Descriptions
--- Clarity in Expectations --- Standards & Benchmarks
--- Required Training Programs
--- Leadership Development Programs
Make sure your sales manager has the right skill sets. Make sure they have received sales management training. Coach them, mentor them and teach them this formula for success and they will make sure your sales force maximizes their effectiveness.
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Sales Management --Unmask the Confusion of Territory Account Assignment - By Dr. Rick Johnson
About the Author: Dr. Rick Johnson
RSS for Dr. Rick's articles - Visit Dr. Rick's website
www.ceostrategist.com - Sign up to receive "The Howl" a free monthly newsletter that addresses real world industry issues. - Straight talk about today's issues. Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Rick Johnson has over 35 years of experience in distribution sales and operations. Rickï¿½s career can be broken down by decades. The first ten years of his distribution career were spent with the largest steel-processing distributor in the world (Joseph T. Ryerson). The second ten years began with Rick starting his own processing distribution center from scratch. In the first year, sales reached $1 million dollars and had grown to $25 million in its tenth year when Rick sold the business to one of the major national chains. The third ten years of Rickï¿½s career dealing with financially troubled Turn-A-Round companies. After completing ten years of TAR work, Rick decided a decade of acting like Darth Vader was enough and became a consultant to the Wholesale Distribution Industry in 1999. Rick received an MBA from Keller Graduate School in Chicago and a Bachelor's degree from Capital University, Columbus Ohio. He also served six years in the United States Air Force as a survival instructor. Rick completed his dissertation on Strategic Leadership and received his Ph.D. in 2005. Rick is frequently published in numerous magazines including a column in Supply House Times, with over 250 different articles published to date. Heï¿½s also a published author with eight books to his credit.
Click here to visit Dr. Rick's website.
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