On a posting for a Sales Management Executives Networking Group, a question was posed: “Is the idea of a sales manager functioning as a player-coach a flawed strategy”?
There were hundreds of responses by sales management gurus with worldwide experience. The debate captured the pros and cons of having a sales manager also function as a salesperson simultaneously.
There were varying points of view especially revolving around the size of the sales force, with the argument that with a small sales team (a couple of salespeople) perhaps having a sales manager do both was a cost-effective tactic.
With this aside the overwhelming consensus was it is not a good long term strategy for the following reasons:
An interesting caveat suggested that many owners and management teams follow a “player-coach” approach because they genuinely don’t understand or appreciate the sales process and the need for structure and accountability in a sales organization.
To underscore this observation, the experts observed that in the small to medium size business sector, management doesn’t view Sales like other functional departments. They naturally have managers assigned to lead Operations, Accounting, IT, and HR without hesitation, but try to develop some sort of hybrid for Sales.
The experts speculate it is because Sales is not considered a department that can be adequately planned, managed, held accountable, or measured through a process like other departments.
Essentially Sales is viewed as an “art” form and cannot be managed in the traditional way.
Sales are the lifeblood of any organization, not having a specific person assigned and accountable for the entire process of strategic planning, training, tracking, and managing is a colossal mistake!
The upshot of the discussion was it merely doesn’t work in the majority of businesses other than very small startups or companies in their formative stages.
Author: Dave Neal
During sales training sessions at Nealabc B to B, sales professionals are eager to debate what prevents them from selling more.
Some of the frequent reasons are:
Although these six reasons and a host of others are contributing factors, sales professionals are often reticent to examine what they can control.
Ironically the use of time is often influenced disproportionally by the daily avalanche of emails, voicemails, and text messages. Ferreting out the vital few from the trivial many is a very subjective process vs. any well thought out process or strategy.
The best sales professionals optimize their precious time.
Here are a few tips to maximize time the great sales equalizer:
Deciding where you go and who you spend your precious time with is the best predictor of sustainable and long- term sales success.
If you have a need to optimize time and territory management of your sales organization call Nealabc for a free assessment.
Author: Casey O'Connor
In my career, I spent years in leadership where the role was mostly managing controlled chaos, mid-flight assembly and readiness to tackle any fire. This approach consistently led to growth. Yet, not without shortcomings. Accepting challenges are expected and reality dictates that nothing ever fully goes as planned. As for the people breathing this air and drinking the Kool-Aid, they had a nice level of scrappiness leading to willingness and desire.
When channeled properly, teams look to overcome anything and move in any direction they were told. Having early adoption and culture of bold readiness was required to stay connected to the demands of our customers and create a user experience based on that knowledge. Using the best tools and resources to accomplish these things also enabled teams to act upon their culture’s values...
All that motivation to win doesn’t mean we always went in the right direction. Poor navigation came back on leadership not putting a focus on the right stuff. In my observation-based opinion, it came back to one thing which consistently led to great outcomes and was the right stuff. That one thing was the understanding and prioritizing the user experience. When the perspective of the client was a priority, better questions got asked pushing for better solutions to make our product more easily consumed. Knowing our audience then can be translated to a more accurate wish list of what your audience wants. Keep your team on their toes because the market doesn’t take breaks.
A company may see growth from a sheer will but also need to examine success for clarity of what mattered most getting there. Through all the changes over time, there were more wins than just having client awareness. There were also reciprocal yet unexpected outcomes in forms of company culture. Back to the first note about controlled chaos and so on… It certainly wasn’t boring and was even fun at times.
All the change we faced keeping in front of our audience kept the teams ready and mobilized. This is where the culture gut check comes into place. If you had to face a change today, would your team be ready for it? Is leadership creating the type of culture that would embrace change or resist it? This is where you ask if your leadership is strong enough to handle change? Did they put in place the right foundation that created a culture that would embrace needed change?
Even with clear targets, KPI’s and extreme ownership complacency can still find a home. Responsiveness to change can be an excellent litmus test when gauging your culture. Knowing the team must do what is needed to engage clients, only best practices can be accepted. If complacency is affecting the organization, one place to see that is receptiveness to change. When growing the business means growing the size of the team you three levels; willingness to work, consumption-based strategy and plan and tools to execute. These will keep you moving in the right direction. This is important to note as you do not want to change merely for the sake of changing. Maintaining course will require leadership that is agile by nature but also aligned with the bigger goals. If moving “the new system” is perceived as an inconvenience without regard for the greater good solved for, you may have a broken culture on your hands. Ideally, getting there requires the right people in place and the tools available for them to best perform...
There is also a place between attaining all three levels. Before hiring the infrastructure to maintain them, leveraging good business partners will be the answer. Partners who provide to your team mature insight and non-biased feedback as well as familiarity with the resources available before hiring individuals. As growth occurs anywhere from start-up to the international organization be sure to invest in getting the right people that are aligned with the company purpose, values and vision. Get the people who want to be at the forefront of the marketplace demands. Invest in knowing what market needs are by allowing people to stay in front of customers and last make sure the right tools that scale with you along the way are being used. Doing these things are paramount, however, doing them with a small scrappy team may be too burdensome at times as individual skillsets may be limited leading to burnout. Avoid a broken culture by finding the right business partner.
Success is about having good partners as you grow. How this works is allowing your team to leverage the strengths of an entire firm for what they are best at solving vs hiring all the people yourself in a rushed fashion. When leveraging partnerships, you allow the people on the internal team to be best at what they were hired for along with the freedom to take time building out. Ramping up with partners also allows your overhead to be on demand vs a permanent commitment of employees. Markets change, and customers leave eventually. Your team must do all it can to stay in touch with the motivations of your clients and serve their needs. Early Adoption of trends and tools will keep you at the front of the competition.
Author: Casey O'Connor
In my position I carry a variety of roles, so obviously I need to buy a bunch of software solutions to do all the things! Right? Wrong. So many times not knowing what I needed to do a certain job, I would open a search engine.... describe what I was trying to do in a "HOW DO I..." format and look for my answer in the top links. In the interest of time, my next step would be to purchase a la cart software program to do one thing... This does pay off sometimes because if a company only makes one program it's gotta be good, right? Well, usually yes. But then I have to pay for and upkeep multiple licenses and worse whatever I made doesn't talk to the other things I have so my own work becomes silo'd. The result would end up with me having crucial information living in my email I then must divvy out to separate programs that don't interact easily, or in some cases not at all.
My work today has me juggling many roles. One of which is Account Manager putting me between client and developers where I balance interpretation, documentation, and training. For example, when a client's process has multiple steps I will jump on a call with clients myself and the developers. We take the client processes in place today and translate them to a digital format. Capturing this exchange can be a challenge, however, I have found that recording a meeting session would be a perfect reference point. Getting this done was a challenge at times or potentially expensive having to use many different programs to bring this seemingly simple task altogether.
I was on the lookout for business tools to help me better serve my clients, it turned out that I already have included in my O365 plan. So I started using Teams to hold and record meetings, Stream to manage my recordings and then SWAY to go back to create SOP's for my clients. Why this is significant to me is I'm already paying for all of these with Microsoft Office365 Business Premium.
So the short and sweet answer I have come to find is this... work-life demands a lot from you sometimes, however, I can successfully balance it demands if I have the right tools to prioritize and execute.
My Business premium doesn't have ALL the tools I need, but it has most and the good news is that when I need to bring several solutions together, Teams lets me create an organized space for collaboration of my office products and third-party solutions and PEOPLE.
This past fall we were consulting with a CEO who was myopically focused on short-term results. He said, “The pipeline is empty, we need more business opportunities right now!”
He gathered his sales and marketing organization and tried to develop a short-term action plan to supercharge developing leads and driving them to closure immediately.
It was a futile effort with unrealistic expectations. The results were predictable, nothing of note happened, other than a lot of wasted energy.
The story is unfortunately repeated all too frequently. Focus on short-term results with “ready fire aim” mentality only leads to the day of reckoning when the pipeline is empty, and business objectives are not in alignment with sales performance.
What is the answer? As it was in the past and today, very simply, strategic sales planning!
Strategic sales planning as a viable business tool is often an anathema to small and medium-sized businesses as being unwieldy, constrictive, and time-consuming.
The reality is sales organizations with formal sales plans are exponentially more likely to meet their company’s long, mid and short-term performance expectations.
The key is a sales plan that clearly states the sales organization’s objectives, goals, and critical activities. These are then translated and distilled down to each sales professional with individualized plans, that in total equal the sales organization’s overall metrics.
The process is simple, flexible and logical. It has built-in performance management benchmarks and flexibility to modified tactics given marketplace variations.
As a side note, this planning process is one of the primary functions of any sales manager and becomes their roadmap for accountability and success.
It is never too late to start strategic sales planning, give Nealabc a call for a free sales planning assessment.
I was consulting with a CEO of a $100,000,000 company regarding his 16 - hour workdays. He was getting stressed out and felt he was spread way too thin to be effective.
He said he was putting out fires, going from one problem to the next as they inevitably came up in the normal course of business.
I asked about his key management team i.e. number, salaries, experience, education, responsibilities etc. He said they were well qualified, extremely well paid, yet unable to prioritize and problem solve without his intervention.
I asked how long this had been going on, he said, “For Ever”!
This real scenario happens frequently in businesses of all sizes. Without a deep dive into the minutia, here are a few thoughts to consider if you are experiencing like circumstances.
The essence of this dilemma is leadership within a company’s culture. Leadership that hires the right people, for the right reasons, holds them accountable and coaches them for success!
There are many processes, tools, and model that help you with like situations. It all starts with an introspective assessment of top leadership and how that leadership is manifested day in and day out.
Often introspective assessments require an unbiased third party to facilitate the process. Give Nealabc a call at 480-229-7800 or email email@example.com for a free conversation to developing a potential solution.
What is a Sales Manager’s role?
Over the years, I have determined a very critical role is coaching an individual sales professional’s capabilities, skills, and performance. The key elements of effective sales coaching are:
If you analyze some of the best coaches in any field, there are some distinct similarities which I call the X Factor:
For more detailed information on sales coaching give NABC a call at 480-229-7800 for a free sales coaching assessment.
Many attempts at sales coaching are done on the fly with no method or plan in place. Often, a barrage of criticisms, resorts, and emotional tirades take center stage! The coaching sessions becomes a source of irritation versus constructive learning.The key to any successful coaching session is preparation by the sales manager. Each interaction should have a purpose and a plan behind it.
Here are ten practices that world-class sales coaches employ:
Incorporating the Ten Practices with the X Factor is a winning combination. If you would like more information about optimizing sales coaching give NABC a call at 480-229-7800.
In the “old days” man created stone tablets, petroglyphs, scrolls, etching, pencils, pens, typewriters, day planners, etc., to communicate and keep track of stuff.Then, one day, we collectively were begotten computers! And by the late 1990s came CRM. Customer Relationship Management was introduced as the business solution to collecting, tracking, and optimizing vital information for improved decisions making. In simple terms, a systemic means to communicate vital information.
Technology had arrived, and to the informed is here to stay!
Although 20 years has passed since the introduction of CRM systems, only 70% of businesses are using it and less than half of those are using it effectively.
Many sales people say; it wastes too much time putting information into the CRM, it is primarily for managements benefit as “big brother” watches and yet others lament it’s not mobile.
From management’s perspective; it’s too costly, not everyone wants to use it, it is too complicated and it just doesn’t work for our industry.
And the beat goes on, as those who seem to always resist change are the last adapters.
In today’s B to B business world, sub-optimization of technology is akin to gross negligence! Yes, I said negligence.
There is so much information that needs to be collected and analyzed. The ROI of business resources and strategies is a must. It is simply humanly impossible to do it effectively without CRM systems.
Today’s CRM systems go way beyond their original intent of collecting contact information about customers and prospects. The highly-sophisticated CRM solutions available have evolved into comprehensive business management tools. They impact all departments of an enterprise; managing and prioritizing the flow of critical information.
Now the operative question; where are you on the technology curve? On the cutting edge or lagging?
The use of CRM systems is not optional for today’s business to business sector. It has become a fundamental tool expected by customers, employees, and informed business leaders.
NABC recommends an “annual check- up” of CRM to evaluate where you are and where you’re going. Competing better and winning more often is at stake!
Contact NABC at 602-510-5797 for a free CRM assessment.
Our Blogs are Authored by various members of the NEALABC team.