The position of sales manager often comes with multiple responsibilities. Each of which has a direct affect on the success of the organization.
The sales manager is frequently an active sales person, as well as an administrator. He or she must make sure quotas are being met, margins are in line, pipelines are full, salespersons are making their calls and individuals are realistically matched to their positions and territories.
An effective sales manager realizes that a person's behavior is the key to success.
How a salesperson behaves towards his or her responsibilities has a direct link to results. The individual who constantly complains about the state of the market, lack of leads and referrals, inability to get to the decision maker, etc. is usually better at making excuses than making sales.
The quandary for the sales manager is how long should he or she put up with ineffective behavior?
In order to answer that question, the sales manager must first look at the reporting structure that he or she has put in place for the entire sales team.
All sales teams should meet at least twice a month. I prefer once a week. And each sales person must be ready to report his or her results to everyone in the room (or on the conference call). One easy way to hold each person accountable, while enabling them to communicate weekly progress efficiently, is to use that good old stand-by paper.
At the weekly meeting each person should present his or her weekly "cookbook" or call sheet for the previous week. The sheet is broken into two different categories, one is titled Prospects and the other is titled Existing Clients. The two large categories are then sub-divided into smaller areas. Under Prospects, the column headings may read: Calls/Contacts (which would include telephone calls, e-mails, etc.), Conversations (this measures how many calls and contacts actually turned into discussions, either on the phone, through e-mail, or one-on-one conversations), Appointments, Meetings Held, Networking Events Attended and Sales Closed. Under the Existing Clients category the headings may read the same with a few twists, such as, Reorders, Stop-by Visits, etc. Each column is then divided into rows, one for each day of the week.
These "cookbooks" instruct the salesperson to list his or her goals for the week at the top of each column heading. During the week the salesperson puts a hash mark for each call, appointment, meeting, etc. that they have accomplished. The sales closed category, however, has the dollar figure for each particular sale. I also advise clients to keep a separate sheet for each day of the week, in order to list the names of the individuals called or contacted and with whom the salesperson had conversations.
At the sales meeting, each person photocopies and hands out his or her sheet to the others in attendance. This leads to accountability by one's peers and allows each individual to measure his or her results against those of the others in the group. It is vitally important that everyone is non-judgmental. The sales manager ultimately holds judgment, however at the weekly sales meetings people should be able to ask for help, find out how those who are consistently producing do so, and learn techniques to improve the production.
It is also important that attendees understand that communication is not limited to the weekly meetings, but that help is available, in fact encouraged at all times.
In addition to paper "cookbooks" the use of Customer Relations Software should also be used to add depth to the interactive salesperson/client/prospect relationship. All customer or prospect conversations, sales, and other interactions with anyone within your organization's sales or customer service process should be entered and summarized to enable the sales team, including inside salespeople, sales managers, new salespersons, customer service representatives and others within the company to have a complete understanding as to the current situation with every client or prospect. This includes specific problems, new orders, satisfactory comments, etc.
Besides the "cookbook" another effective tool is the "pipeline" sheet. This paper is used to report what prospects are in the salesperson's revenue pipeline. The headings on this sheet may read, Company (or individual), Potential Sale (in dollars), Possibility of Sale (in percentages), Contact Person, Last Contact Date, and Next Step.
This weekly sheet should also be photocopied and distributed by each salesperson to the others on the team. The "pipeline" sheet gives a snapshot of potential revenues and new clients. It is also a valuable tool in easing potential rough spots that a salesperson may be encountering. By laying out prospective companies and contacts one salesperson may find that another team member may have an alternate means of securing the sale.
These two sheets are also concise measuring devices for the sales manager. They permit a clear view of a salesperson's behavior as it applies to his or her consistency at following the techniques necessary in order to build a solid business.
While the revenue results may vary, the sales manager can see how new salespeople are performing on his or her way to growth and greater revenues and how longer tenured salespeople are performing in and out of his or her comfort zone.
With the weekly "cookbook" and "pipeline" sheets a sales manager will, over a defined period of time, be able to see who is, or has, the potential to produce, and who doesn't. These results and results indicator tools can then be used to decide which salespeople to terminate and which salespeople to keep and grow with.
A sales manager's greatest tools are the ability to motivate, communicate with and support his or her team members, as well as measure the results of the salespeople under his or her guidance and the ability to construct a timeline for the success the team and its members. Once processes are put in place, so that decisions can be quantified and qualified, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this article becomes easy.
How long should a sales manager put up with ineffective behavior?
As long as the results and the behavior associated with them, within the timeline allotted, indicate it's time to let the person go.
One last thought. If you are a one-person organization, the tools mentioned in this article work equally as well to measure your own productivity, goals desired and achieved, prospects to contact, sales made, etc. You are your own sales manager and while you're not apt to fire yourself you may find that you need help in the form of adding another person, finding a partner, creating a symbiotic relationship with another firm, or getting coaching or training to overcome your weaknesses and increase you strengths.
The best thing is it's all there in black and white!
Dan Goldberg, MBA, is President of Dan Goldberg Consulting L.L.C. a training, coaching and business development firm located in the Philadelphia, PA area. He is the founder and former owner of "For Eyes" the highly successful international optical company and an internationally recognized keynote speaker. Dan is the author of the book "Stand Back A Second, Just don't fall off the edge," and of "The Six Steps To Solid Sales Success" and "The Seven Elements Of Successful Management" programs. He is Executive-In-Residence at Kutztown University and has been the subject of stories in Newsweek, Business Week, Playboy, Successful Business, Investor's Business Daily, major newspapers in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Miami, San Francisco, Oakland, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles and many other national and local publications. In addition, Dan has appeared on Good Morning America and other national and local television and radio programs. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at http://www.dangoldberg.com or reach him at (215) 233-5352