Monday, 5 July 2010

Sales Surgery Part 2 - Sales Managers

So first an apology. I said this would be the next post after the original Sales Surgery post and a couple of others squeaked in ahead, so sorry about that. Such is the hazard of a spur of the moment blogging style!

As I mentioned before, the guys at Acquire Coaching and I have recently started running sales workshops and sales surgeries. They are proving to be popular with sales people and are returning fantastic results. Why? The sales guys like the ability to have an open and frank conversation in a non-judgemental environment, to be able to learn from their peers in a workshop setting and to have dedicated 1:1 time with an objective sales expert.

We're also working with sales managers. If I use the IT space as an example, most sales managers I meet have had no formal training. As in zero. Surprised? Don't be. The reason is that in many instances the sales manager has been promoted from the sales ranks and therefore knows the systems, people and many of the procedures. Which is great, and probably makes for a faster start in turning in completed forecasts to the big sales boss. So that's the report taken care of.

Now, what about the team? Most sales people appear to be part of a team or operational unit. However, in practice, they are a team of 1. They get paid on their own results. There may be a 'team' element to the compensation plan but in the main, it's every man for himself.

So how does that translate to being at the head of the 'team'? In many instances not too well. So often we see a style of management where the manager berates the employee for a low forecast. The employee seeks refuge in submitting higher numbers, and then is in the firing line again when he under-delivers against his unrealistic forecast!

A potentially never-ending circle ensues, which isn't great for anyone involved. A good sales manager has to lead, manage, motivate, mentor and support his team. The manager must make the most of his experience in the field by passing on that knowledge to the benefit of the business.

A typical sales team is often made up of an eclectic mix of individuals and personalities of differening age, experience, attitudes and interests. How do you bring those disparate pieces of the puzzle together? How do you motivate individuals when they all have their own unique goals, values and requirements?

That's the $64,000 question. We get asked this all the time. And the answer? Part of the answer lies in the statement from the first post: A great salesman does not a good manager make. Not automatically anyway.

A great sales manager needs to care and have humility for others. He can't look out just for himself anymore. He must also have chameleon like qualities. One face to 'the management', another to customers, another to staff? Why? It's how you build relationships that work and get you where you need to be. That isn't to say you must be fake. Far from it. Be genuine in all things, and be aware of how you are perceived in order to get the most from the 'transaction'.

Let's put this in some everyday examples. I'm working at home and I'm on the phone to a new customer or prospect. I'm being professional, polite and crisp in my speech and communication. As I put the phone down my youngest son (who's 7 and likes to scare the hell out of me by creeping in to the office unnoticed) walks in and asks me a question. How do I respond? Do I continue in the manner that I used with the customer? No, I automatically switch to an appropriate 'language' for my son.

We do this all the time at home. We've just finished yelling down the phone at the call centre operative trying to sell us something and then in the next breath gently say 'would you like a coffee darling?' or something similar. You get the drift.

We also need to look at what motivates the individual. In the same way that if, like me, you have 2 children who are very different in temperament, you have to use different methods to get the best response. This exact same thing needs to be applied in a team setting if you're going to get the best out of that team and the individuals within.

This last point is often the trickiest bit of all. Either it's missed completely or just not performed very well. This is where we're making a real difference.

We need to constantly nurture our team for it to grow in the way we want and need (that's the link to the picture, in case you thought it bizarre :)). There's so much more, but not for today's post!

If you'd like to chat about how you can overcome some of these issues, please to get in touch.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.


  1. Absolutely right on, Andrew. A good leader leads by example, not by demands, and nurtures his team by providing the necessary nourishment, training and support, encouraging true teamwork -- an all-for-one-one-for-all attitude. There's a wonderful little video from Simple Truths called "The Power of Teamwork" that I always love to share. It makes a powerful statement in just a few words and a few minutes of video.

  2. Too true Steve. Great vid by the way, the Blue Angels are awesome. We have the Red Arrows and I've seen them live. Unbelievable! Now that stuff really is teamwork :)