Managing salespeople is hard. Here’s how to make it easier.

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Managing front line salespeople is hard.

Period.

Whether you are a front line sales manager, a senior sales executive like a Director, VP or COO – or if you are the head of a small company that doesn’t have a dedicated front line sales manager and you take on that role yourself (on top of the many other things you do)….

Hard.

Harder still when you also sell, and have your own quota to meet – imposed by others or as required by the cash flow needs of the business.

And even harder than that, if – as in so many cases:

  • You never got any training on front line sales management;
  • You don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to sales management because of other commitments, and/or
  • You don’t have any kind of organizational structure to support the front line sales management work that you do.

…and yet – sales is the life blood of your company.

What a mess!

So why is it like that in so many companies?

I have been working in and with sales organizations since 1991 and while the specific problems are different for each company, there is a common theme:

Those sales organizations that are more systematic about selling as an organization tend to do better than those who are more random.

What kind of random?

Think about the salespeople in your sales organization. To what extent do they operate like “lone wolves”? Do they get an end-of-the-term number and little if no oversight – then go out into the world to see what they can make happen?

Be honest.

It is a lot more common than you might think – at least from what I have seen.

This is a big problem, and even bigger when combined with another common situation –  that Pareto was right. You know, Pareto – the 80/20 guy.

When you combine a lone wolf sales culture, disengaged sales management and 80/20 results you have a recipe for disaster. You might hit your numbers, but getting there is ugly, and it just doesn’t have to be like that.

  • Pareto style organizations hit their number because a few reps do great, and they carry the rest.
  • Having disengaged sales management plus lone wolf reps means that the organization as a whole has no real impact on the results.

Not pretty.

So what can you do about that?

I have been in sales training for more than a dozen years, and what I have learned in that time is this: the right place to start is the same place that Vince Lombardi* started at the beginning of each football season – with definitions:

“Gentlemen – this is a football”.

*For you non-American football fans, Vince Lombardi is the famous former coach of the Green Bay Packers football team, and the person they named the Super Bowl (championship) trophy after…so his team knew what a football was, but that is how this legendary coach started each and every year…

Your sales organization might feel like a mess, and maybe it is – but if you want to start getting on top of that, you should start by setting up:

  • A common language between your reps and managers (i.e. agreed upon definitions),
  • Clear expectations about the things it takes to get new business,
  • And what the people who reps report to will do to both support sales efforts (not just results) and to hold reps accountable to them.

Sound hard? In some ways yes (nobody ever likes to change), but in some ways not – if you have a clear plan.

Not sure how to make one? Well, if it’s important enough to you and you would like to talk about if that is something I can help you with, let’s take the time to get to know each other a bit.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David

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