Behind many great sales professionals are great sales managers. A sales manager is someone who can make selling much easier—or a whole lot harder.
Management defines the process.
Too often management expects salespeople to do the impossible. They hire salespeople and say, “Go sell.”
You wouldn’t expect someone on the assembly line to figure out how to assemble a product. Why do sales managers expect sales people to develop a sales process? Management needs to define the sales process.
This includes defining the criteria for prospects, providing a target list of prospects, formulating the questioning strategy and developing sales materials.
Then salespeople can build the relationship with face-to-face sales calls or inside sales calls.
Provide the plan.
Successful selling is something different than hiring an extrovert who charms customers into buying. A successful salesperson is one who works with clearly set performance goals in a defined process.
Management needs to provide the expectation of what the sales activity level will be in the first 90 days. A salesperson gains confidence when management provides the guidance of what performance level is expected.
Let management measure it.
Salespeople should be doing what they do best. Record keeping isn’t their strong suit. Yet both salespeople and management need to know how many calls are turning into appointments, how many appointments are producing proposals and other results that move the sales process forward.
Using technology and automated systems captures the data that needs to be measured so salespeople can act. Look for a system that easily captures and allows measurement of the salesperson’s work.
Be sure to set goals. How many sales calls do you expect a week? How many sales do you expect each week or month? You can’t do it informally. You must quantify performance.
When you measure your process and have data to review, you will see where your staff is having trouble. It’s a good idea to meet frequently (if possible daily for brief 15-20 minute meetings) to problem solve and offer solutions if needed.
You might find that a salesperson has a problem in just one area— perhaps getting the appointment, and is fine in other areas. Get the help of another salesperson who is strong in that area. Sometimes making joint sales calls with a sales manager provides the needed help. At other times brainstorming solves the problem.
Great management produces great selling results. Start with your sales manager if that is what you want from your selling.