Is he or she balancing priorities properly? How do you even know?
A big dilemma faced by most executives is what is my sales manager doing and more importantly what should they be doing? It is a mystery but it shouldn’t be.
There are 3 priorities in my opinion that should always take the bulk of your sales managers time. Some are obvious and some not.
Priority one is hiring. Yes hiring. I am tired of hearing executives say to me, “well of course we have the regular 80/20 rule; 20 percent are really good and making their numbers consistently and the other 80 percent are inconsistent, one month up one down.” Why is this ok? Why is this an accepted practice?
The most common reason for this is a simple one. We have 6 territories to fill and we have sales people in each of the territories so we have no hiring need. What? Here is the question. If your sales manager or any of your salespeople told you they have a good amount of accounts right now, they are pretty happy with them and if they lose one, then they will look for another to replace it, what would you do? Most executives say to me, “Are you kidding? I would fire them.” Well that’s what you’re doing when you allow your sales force to stay stagnant with non-performers and look for replacements when someone leaves.
Looking for sales superstars is something that is ongoing and constant. If you found someone better then your best person tomorrow wouldn’t you find a place for them in your organization? Of course you would so why are you not constantly looking for that? Your sales manager should spend no less then 30percent of their time on all that is hiring; looking, phone interviewing, doing assessments, in-person interviewing etc.
Priority two is coaching. Who do we coach on our team to get the most from them? Where do sales managers spend their time, with A B or C players? Most would tell you with the A players to help close deals, then they would tell you with the Cs since they need the most work. I would tell you the B players will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Though this is priority two, this should take up about 40% of your sales managers time.
Lets first Identify what each of the players are. A players are typically about 20% of your sales force. They are consistently hitting their numbers, driven to continue on that path and don’t allow excuses to get in their way. B players are good strong salespeople, have good attitudes but really need some help to reach the next level and are open to it. Probably about 40% of your group.
The C players are excuse makers, blame others for their failures and are inconsistent in their sales numbers. They make up about 20% of your sales force. Also my own observation only, I often notice these are the reps that have been around for a long time and either have fallen in success and been ok with that or have always been average at best but have been in the organization for a long time so they have simply moved along. These are typically about 20% as well.
Spend time with B players. They want to learn and will take best to the coaching. Your ‘most improved’ nominees are sitting here.
Priority three is accountability. Keeping your sales people accountable is very important for several reasons. First of all if they can track what they are doing activity-wise, they can themselves track what is working what isn’t. In sales you are in some respects, in your own business. Sales people can create the amount of money they want to make and to help them by identifying what that looks like and help them analyze successes and changes they should make for the most success is the sales managers job. Additionally, we need to know for ourselves what it truly takes to make a success in a particular area of the business to create forecasts and projections. This should be about 10-20 % of their time.