Sales and Sales Management Blog

March 6, 2014

Guest Article: “Sales Management: 4 Steps on How to Not Get Fired!” by Ken Thoreson

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 4:29 pm
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4 Steps on How to Not Get Fired!”
by Ken Thoreson

On my flight to Seattle I was pondering what this week’s blog might contain; it occurred to me that in reflecting on the past year and looking forward a quick summary of a few basic actions sales leadership must take to succeed would be of value.

Step One: Build an active recruiting plan.  Most sales managers get fired for not hitting the desired sales goals, the issue is normally because they have a lack of salespeople selling their products/services!  You must know what is your average transaction value is vs your yearly or monthly sales objectives? The question you need to know is: “do you have enough salespeople on board to achieve your monthly number of required sales transactions? “ A sales manager must look out 90-120 days knowing your future potential revenue objectives and understand your manpower requirements.  Recruiting is sales leadership’s marketing campaign for sales leads. Build an ongoing program to ensure you have the right talent in place to exceed your goals.

Step Two:  Know your pipeline metrics. This is something I have written about before but it is what can bite the sales manager. You must know the accurate value of the pipeline 90-120 days out (depending upon your sales cycle). The question you must ask is: “do you have enough number of opportunities both in value and number of opportunities to achieve your upcoming monthly quota? If not, what can you do to ensure you build up the pipeline values so that you will have enough opportunities to achieve the monthly objective? It’s November, what is your February pipeline value? Do you have the necessary values to achieve February’s goals when it’s February first?

Step Three: Is your team trained?  Recently, at one of my new clients; my client, a technical team member and myself “listened in’ as two of their salespeople gave a demonstration to a major new client sales opportunity.  It became obvious to the president that the salespeople were not professional or even capable of handling the meeting. It was enlightening and a crucial step towards increasing the need for continued focus on sales training.  The sales team had been neglecting our recommendations as to improving their skill level, and now there will be an increased buy in by management and peer levels to focus on sales skills. 

  • ·              Make more sales calls  with your team,
  • ·               build in  a quarterly  salesperson skills  evaluation      process,
  • ·               increase more role playing in your sales training meetings
  • ·              Build a quarterly sales training programs 

Step Four: Improve your professional business acumen. 1) Make sure you read the local business sections in your local papers, the Wall Street Journal, business magazines/web sites,  2) read 3 business books a year and 3)  join a sales leadership  “peer group” of other sales managers to learn how others are increasing their leadership skills. This step will improve your ability to discuss the business trends of the day with prospects and your sales team, increase your stature within your management team and improve how you manage your team.

Follow these four steps and your odds of surviving the normal 18 month window that most sales leaders live under will improve.

Ken Thoreson is the president and founder of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at ken@acumenmgmt.com   Ken’s latest book is: “Recruiting a High Performance Sales Team”.

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March 4, 2014

Are Your Sales Managers Sabotaging Your Company’s Sales Training Investment?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 11:43 am
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“We don’t spend money on outside sales training because it never seems to do much good.  In the past we’ve had training companies come in and work with our team but as soon as they leave it seems like our people are just back to doing what they were doing before.  Training is just a waste of our time and money.”

Many company leaders have the above attitude because their experience has been that the training they paid good money for didn’t change their sales team’s behavior—at least not for long.

After having that experience a couple of times it would seem rational to eliminate the outside training expense because obviously training companies can’t make the fundamental changes to people that they claim they can. 

The company leader assumes that the root of the issue lies with the training company and its inability to have a long term impact on the sales force.

But is that really the problem?

Certainly the issue could in fact lie with the company that provided the training.  But are a number of possible reasons apart from the company hired to perform the training for sales training failure–from treating sales training as an event instead of an ongoing behavior change process, to salespeople who view attending sales training sessions as torture, to the company’s failure to provide follow-up coaching for the sales team.  All of these are real issues that can negate any potential success you might experience from your investment in sales training.

There is another factor that is often the real cause for the failure of the training—intentional or unintentional sabotage by the sales team management.

Are your sales managers trying to take the edge off their charges having to go to training by reassuring them, “yes, you have to go to the training, but don’t worry; just go and when you get back, sell the way you’ve always sold?” 

Maybe they don’t believe in the training and are intentionally training their team members in different processes and tactics? 

Possibly some sales managers don’t want to invest the time and energy in learning new strategies and tactics themselves and consequently don’t care whether their folks adopt the training.

If you fail to get full buy-in from your sales management team to the specific training you are presenting, you will not have comprehensive and universal implementation of the training. 

Your frontline sales managers who work with their team members have more influence on how your salespeople sell than anyone else—more than senior executives, more than middle sales management, more than the training department, more than HR, more than the expensive sales trainers you hire.

If they don’t believe, the salespeople won’t believe. 

If they don’t reinforce the messages, the strategies, and the tactics, those occasional training sessions will be nothing more than expensive exercises in futility.

How do you get all of your sales managers on the same page?

Before you ever put a salesperson in a training workshop or seminar, each and every manager must have gone through the management version of the training.  Each manager must understand what the company’s comprehensive, unified sales process is and how the particular training that is scheduled fits in the big picture; what short and long-term results are to be expected; what their job is in reinforcing and coaching the training; and what criteria will be used to determine the success or failure of the training.

Most of all, each manager must believe in the process and strategy.  .

Whether the training is presented by an in-house trainer or by a professional trainer brought in from outside, each segment of training should consist of a management segment designed to gain manager buy-in and to give them the tools and knowledge they will need to coach sellers once they are back at the office and a segment for salespeople that is attended by their managers.

And although the initial cost of training in terms of both time and money will increase, the long-term result will be reduced waste of training dollars and increased sales.  That wished for unified sales process will begin to become a reality because the biggest determent to success has been turned into the biggest promoter of success.

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