Growth Driver #7 – Tighten Your Focus on Sales Management

With over 486 million google hits, the prominence of Front-Line Sales Management as an issue is indisputable. Yet, few sales organizations have a tight enough focus on their Sales Managers, particularly when it comes to hiring, enabling managers with a process, and setting and managing performance expectations.

Our experience suggests CSOs should adopt three prescriptions to tighten their focus on Sales Management.

  1. Hire Slowly. All too often, CSOs rush hiring decisions opting to fill open sales management positions quickly – usually from the field – lest a sales team miss its numbers. This approach is flawed in many ways and has enormous negative consequences. Not only does it lead to sub-optimal revenue and profit performance by the team, but it also frequently leads to higher levels of turnover within the team and loss of alignment with the sales strategy. Why? Because Sales Management is a unique role, one that requires strategic thinking, managerial, coaching, process management, and motivational skills. Not to mention strong alignment and fit with senior management, particularly around strategic decision making and performance management. Instead of taking the easy path and promoting a salesman, CSOs should hire slowly and deliberately, making sure that candidates  possess the foundational and strategic competencies necessary to drive improved performance across their team. Seethe  Chally Group’s assessments at www.chally.com, they are a great resource that enables high quality hiring.
  2. Implement a Sales Management Process. Despite being heralded in so many articles as “the linchpin of strong sales performance”, too many sales managers remain mired in administrative roles facilitating their rep’s transactions, enabling cross-functional communication, or worse still walking the tightrope of managing their own book of business and their team’s transactions, as opposed to developing rep’s capability. What’s missing is an intentional process like the one pictured below.Sales Mgt. Process

    Equipping the Sales Management team with, and teaching them how to use, this type of process shifts managers conversations and interactions with their reps from transactional administrivia to teachable moments that enable personal development.

  3. Fire Fast. When’s the last time you our your senior team fired a Sales Manager? I recently took a poll of clients and only 20% could recall a time when a Sales Manager got let go. Perhaps this is a consequence of misplaced loyalty resulting from hiring too quickly, but that doesn’t make it right and only serves to compound your company’s problems. Managers should be managed with the same process as reps. Expectations should be clear, performance outcomes should be tracked and reported frequently, and feedback and assistance should be given regularly. And, when performance does not improve quickly, sub-par managers should be removed before their sales teams are negatively impacted.

If you have recently completed a project to increase your focus on Sales Management, please comment below. If you’re about to start, make sure you are equipped to hire slow, implement a sales management process, and fire fast before you embark on the journey, otherwise your other investments may yield sub-optimal returns.

-TGK



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