Sales Management Process: The Black Hole of Sales Strategy Execution
Have you ever stopped to think about what you need your sales management to do to help you run your sales force? If you asked five sales managers to map out a day, week, month, and quarter in their lives, would you get a consistent response? The answer is probably a strong “no.”
We find that, in many companies, there is no unified sales management plan for how managers use their time and prioritize what they really need to do. Managing the sales process and the sales management role are critically important, but the job is often very poorly defined and the sales management process rarely properly defined. We know this because when we ask sales managers what they do, we often hear, “I know what I am doing; I am just scurrying around trying to keep stuff moving. But what am I supposed to be doing?” (You can almost picture a drowning man flailing his arms in panic as opposed to calmly reaching for a life preserver.) In fairness to sales managers, they can’t follow a process if the process isn’t defined.
A sales management process is a summary of the activities you need your sales managers to do, along with timing, frequency, and expected outcomes that you can verify. If you haven’t done so already, take the time to define your sales management process. This will help communicate expectations, and hold your sales managers accountable.
But I trained my sales managers to coach — isn’t that enough?
Organizations often confuse the sales management process with sales coaching. Yes, sales managers need to coach, but this is only one aspect of the sales management process. Sales managers get very frustrated when everyone is throwing coaching training at them as a “magic bullet.” Well, that makes no sense when you step back because they were once sales reps who probably didn’t follow a precise process. Now they are sales managers who are still learning how to manage, let alone coach, and they have no process. So establishing and following a sales management process is likely to be more significant than sending new managers off to coaching training because it gives them a plan to follow each day.
- How many times do I meet with my team?
- How often do I coach them?
- How much do I roll out?
- Where do I inspect?
- Where do I ride along?
- When do I review pipelines?
Managing a sales manager’s time
Looking objectively at the full scope of a sales manager’s job can be very eye-opening. They think, “Wow, how am I going to have time to do this?” Leadership has to make some prioritization decisions. Managers may perceive that the sales process, verifiable outcomes, and coaching are all additives to what they are already being asked to do, which makes them feel overwhelmed. But consider these alternatives:
- Poor sales management process: chaos, uncertainty, frustration, ambiguity, wasted effort, ineffectiveness, unmet goals, poor time management
- Good sales management process: focus, clarity, satisfaction, confidence, effectiveness, productivity, achieved goals, doing the things that matter
The answer isn’t to simply pile more tasks on top of an already full job. We can help them and sales leaders understand and appreciate what a successful net result should look like. What are the critical steps that need to be taken? What’s realistic and what’s nice to have? How often is it necessary for you to do x, y, and z?
We help guide our clients in determining how to do some things differently and identifying those things that are time wasters and those that you can just completely stop doing. Going through this exercise is the first step toward developing a daily plan for sales managers.
After reviewing the sales manager’s task list, you’ll see that some tasks were moved from monthly to quarterly while others were eliminated altogether. We then assemble a calendar that charts what they need to do on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. With this level of precision, they can now go into their calendars and map out their entire year’s worth of activities.
When we first sit down with sales managers, their challenge to us is, “Okay, with these new changes and expectations, how do I do the rest of my job?” But when we start to work through this exercise, it reveals the sales manager’s job. When you break it down into components (e.g., now I do these things but not those things), it takes shape and becomes manageable. Now, it is an executable.
Richardson: Sales Training and Strategy Execution – helping leaders prepare their organization to execute sales strategies and achieve business objectives.