Sales Management II – What Managers Should Do for Off the Charts Selling

Sales Management II – What Managers Should Do for Off the Charts Selling

“A Sales manager’s job is to move sales people to do what works.” This is Part II of III – The “Do” of the key elements – “Move”, “Do”, and “What Works.”

The “Do”

“Do” means implementing the skills, techniques, strategies, and tactics of actually selling. Bottom line for the sales person, “Do” means go out and sell. But “Do” can mean more than just closing sales. “Do” means walking away and avoiding wasted time and resources. It means managing large accounts so they continue to buy more. It means cross selling, up-selling and pursuing referrals. “DO” means promoting the company brand and maintaining the goodwill of the company.

For the sales manager, it means making sure the sales person does the “Do” and follows a process. First the sales person must know what to “Do”. Second, s/he must prepare for the “Do”. Then, s/he must do/enact, and finally, s/he must review and evaluate what and how well s/he did.

These are the responsibilities of the manager as well as the sales person. The manager must make sure the sales person has the capability and skills – has demonstrated via role-play or on-the-job that he can sell. That is, work a selling process effectively. If not the manager must train, coach and mentor.

Before the sales person is sent out, the manager must review the preparation, for the encounters or sales calls – continuously at first, then frequently, then intermittently until he is satisfied the sales person is proficient at preparing, enacting and evaluating.

Preparation is the key to successful sales calls and sales strategies. CRMs miss the boat because 99% capture post sales call information which is usually random information picked from unstructured conversations or superfluous remarks captured after one-size-fits-all presentations.

CRMs would provide far more valuable information if they forced sales people to document beforehand;

1. The purpose of a call;
2. Who needs to be seen;
3. What information needs to be learned;
4. What information needs to be given; and
5. What commitments are sought.
In this way the manager can be sure the sales person is on the right track before he invests his time.

Then after the call, report the successes or partial successes and what next actions are required. This is valuable information for CRMs to capture which can then promote the sales person to further actions and alert/notify managers. Sales managers should inspect beforehand and review afterwards.

Confidence, Attunement, and Patience

To implement or sell or “Do” requires confidence, and the best way to attained confidence is through preparation, and practice.

Attunement — moving with a customer is another necessary ingredient for successful doing. As in fishing, the fish pulls on the line and you let him run with it. As it goes right, you go right, and so on. Eventually the fish has exhausted its energy (the prospect exhausts his thoughts) and now the salesperson can take the lead i.e. reel him in — ask more questions, clarify, present, close, or gain some commitments.

Patience is required to clarify and hold back before spewing out what you want to get across. Patience comes from confidence.
Confidence, attunement and patience create an engagement, an interaction – rather than a sermon, lecturer or presentation. It’s a take and give — take information and then give information. It takes confidence to let the prospect run on, and it takes attunement to listen for understanding, and it takes patience to let the prospect continue to explain. Preparation, role playing and practice are the best methods to gain confidence, and attunement, and patience.


After the “Do” it’s time for analysis. For the sales person – did I “Do” what I prepared to do? Score it on a scale of 1 to 10? What worked — I should plan to do that again. What didn’t work, or what went poorly — I should modify that? What did I forget to ask, or discuss, or what didn’t I even think to discuss or ask — I should remember it for future do’s.

Again, it is the role of the manager to make sure the sales person does this analysis. Hold the sales person accountable that s/he did the preparation and analysis. The recap is critical. Without it old, ineffective behaviors will continue to produce the same old results.

Preparation is necessary to insure the sales person will “Do” the right behaviors – gets what’s needed and gives what the prospect wants to hear. Did the salesperson do what you both prepared — how did it work? Score on a scale 1 to 10? What needs to be modified? What didn’t he do? How come? What can you do to help him or her “Do” it better next time?

These steps by the manager are mandatory for 90% of your sales team. The other 10% — the best salespeople will do it by themselves. The 90% are like inertia — a body in motion (doing its thing) will continue to stay in motion (doing its thing) until influenced by an outside source (the manager). So if you want better results, hold the sale people accountable.


Finally, the “Do” involves metrics — this is the analytical piece of accountability. Metric are mandatory to judge performance and gauge improvements.

What is your ultimate metrics for defining effective doing? My favorite is dollar volume of sales. Another could be percent against goal.

Then, there are the precursor metrics which indicate whether the ultimate metric will be attained, – number of sales calls, number of people engaged on a sales call, number of proposals per close, time with each customer.

Think through this. What metrics are precursors to your ultimate metric? Sales require proposals. Proposals require commitments. Commitments require presentations. Presentations require interviews, possibly with many buyers to determine individual’s needs and consensus. Interviews require sales call preparation. Sales calls require targeted prospects. Count the ones that predict your ultimate metric.

Establish the metrics that lead to your goal. Pick a few that really tell the story. Then monitor those early metrics, because if the early metrics are not met, you can be sure, the ultimate metric won’t be either.

Remember the behavioral metrics you scored 1-10 after sales calls and strategies. Is the person scoring above minimum? Is s/he improving? Break down your sales process into 4-5 behavioral elements and score against proficiency. Document what you expect and discuss his or her scores and your expectations for improvement.

So successful doing is just as big a function for the manager as it is of the sales person. The manager must train (teach them what works), coach (tell him or her what to “Do”), mentor (show him or her how to do it), and hold all accountable for selling behaviors as well as their metrics. Sales people must then “Do” what they’ve learned and been told to “Do” and measure up. If not the manager must determine how to move the person to “Do” it, or recruit a new sales person.

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Sales Management III – What Works

“A Sales manager’s job is to move sales people to do what works.” This is Part III of the key elements – “Move” (I), “Do” (II), and “What Works” (III)

A very wise sales guru once told me, “If a sales person is unruly, not conforming to policy, etc., but really selling well, keep him (or her) and deal with it.” Whatever this bad apple is doing is working and you want to keep him going. The point: Don’t mess with what’s working well.

Strange at it may sound great sales people (the 10% or less in you sales force) are far more open to suggestions and help than the other 90%. These people are aware times and conditions are ever changing and they know they have to keep improving to compete successfully. That’s why they are all ears when it comes to training, coaching, new ideas and other suggestions.

However, managing great sales people is not why you are reading this. So let’s concentrate on getting the other 90% of your sales team to a point where they can repeatedly do “What Works” well.

What Works

“What Works” means the skills, techniques, strategies, and tactics of actually selling and managing a sales territory or product segment. “What Works” means actually implementing those skills to close business. But “What Works” means more than just closing sales. “What Works” means walking away and avoiding wasted time and resources. It means managing large accounts so they continue to buy more. It means cross selling, up-selling and pursuing referrals. “What Works” means promoting the company’s brand and maintaining the company’s goodwill.

A Selling Process Makes “What”… “Work”

Every sales person and sales manager has a selling process, a system, an approach. The question is how well does it work? Is it efficient? Are sales taking too long to close? Could there be up-sells, cross-sells or add-on’s while the customer is buying? Is it effective? When he’s there, is he selling or is the customer buying? Is he cultivating new prospects and closing them?

Then do the processes of the sales people align with the manager’s. If they don’t, the manager is constantly trying to corral cats. He’s always managing chaos because each sales person is doing what he feels comfortable, which for 90% is probably not working so great.

If your process is not effective and efficient and/or not aligned, you as the manager are constantly listening to all the stories, rationalization and rambling status reports. You probably throw in a few interrogative questions to see if the sales person is on track, but then listen to reasons of why not or, “It’s been tried and probably won’t work.” Finally, they wear you down. You hope for the best and let the sales person go. The sales person leaves relieved because he has survived another review.

Gain Control

A sales process that Works give sales people the map for success; the leverage elements that make sales happen; and the realization of an attempt that won’t close. A sales process gives the manager the visibility to inspect what’s to be accomplished before sales calls; analyze and strategize sales opportunities as quality information is delivered and; have assurance that sales people are doing what you want them to do.

Sales process provides a common language so you can eliminate the fluffy stories and get to the meat of the sales criteria, i.e. are you dealing with the decision makers, when will this deal close, and what problems (red flags) are holding it back from closing immediately? Sales process eliminates all the excuses, rationalizations, and flack. Sales process makes expectations clear so that everyone knows what they have to do, what they have to report, how they will be measured, and what happens if all goes well, and not so well. Sales process is repeatable. Everyone can do it over and over again and it works efficiently. Sales process is predictable. It provides metrics that can accurately predict successes or failures.

Proactive CRMs

Since the “What Works” of selling involves many aspects – closing, upselling, large accounts, etc., the sales process has sub processes -sales strategies, sales calls, getting to the right people, managing relationships, prospecting and territory management. All of these must have language, rules, order, expectations, reports, metrics, etc. CRMs can be very helpful, but must incorporate the selling process and be proactive rather than a story collector. In other words, if your CRM prompts the sales person to do the process and informs the manager ahead of sales calls, quotes, presentations, etc. of what the sales person plans to do, then the CRM can assist in the implementation of the sales process which is what makes the “What”… “Work”.

Knowing You’re on the Right Path

If your sales process is working, your sales people will come to your sales reviews saying,

“Boss, I know what you’re going to ask. So before you say a thing, let me explain the problems and these are the actions I’m doing and going to do and this is when each action will be completed. Now boss, what other suggestions or advice do you have?”

When your team reports to reviews like this, your life will be much easier and successful. Sale process can do this for you. That’s the good news. However, it requires you making it happen and this requires patience, focus, discipline, and stamina – one-piece-at-a-time.

One Piece at a Time

There are a lot of good selling processes (possibly your own) and each has many elements. Everyone on the team needs to know the elements and how to implement them. Therefore, as the manager you must train (teach him and her “What Works”), coach (tell him and her “What” to “Do”), mentor (show him and her how to do “What Works” if he’s struggling), and hold all accountable for the effective selling behaviors. Metrics are the indicators that they are doing “What Works”. Sales people must “Do” what they’ve learned and been told to “Do” and measure up. If not, the manager must determine how to “Move” (See Part I) the sales person to “Do” (See Part II) “What Works”, or recruit a new sales person.

The key to training, coaching, mentoring and holding each accountable is to do a little at a time.

Every element of the sales process, or what you expect your people to do, must be taught, coached, mentored, and reviewed for accountability. Stick to one element at a time with each individual until s/he has got it. Never assume when he nods his head he’s got it. He may understand it, but usually he’s a long way from being able to do it. So always ask him to repeat back to you what you said, or better yet role-play. Get him or her to commit that it will be done. You have to confirm he has it before you can hold him accountable.

Have faith. It is not as daunting as it sounds from the above example. Many already do some elements well. You may just have to make the sales person vividly aware of what s/he is doing correctly per your process, and what needs changing and/or improving. A sales person with potential and desire can learn quickly (See “Move” Part I). Believe it or not, sales people want to please their boss. So as long as you keep asking for what you want (managing your expectations), they will all eventually give it to you – even the renegades.

Putting a selling process that “Works” into place will make your sales skyrocket.

And now I invite you to learn more.

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