Sales Tips: A Brilliant Sales Management Strategy

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

Sales Management StrategyBy John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

A sales manager’s dream is having “A” Players that can carry a branch, district or regional office. Salespeople that consistently exceed their numbers need minimal coaching and can allow sales managers to make their number despite the fact that many B or C Players don’t achieve quota.

I had the pleasure of working with a VP of Sales at a $75 million software company. Bob had three (3) Regional VPs reporting to him. Prior to implementing sales process, at the beginning of each year and at the end of June the sellers from the 3 regions that had produced the most revenue the previous 6 months earned the privilege and prestige of reporting directly to the VP of Sales. If and when they needed any help in opportunities they called Bob and resources were allocated. The regional managers were given quota relief for the sellers that were chosen to report directly to Bob.

It was a brilliant strategy for a number of reasons: 

  • Top performers were highly incented to be the person from their group to report directly to the VP.

  • It took little time for Bob to manage the top 3 performers.

  • Sales managers could no longer ride the coattails of their best sellers.

  • Sales managers had to focus on the sellers that needed help.

Paul Hersey’s Situational Leadership maturity curve divides people into four (4) quadrants as relates to skill mastery:

  1. Unwilling (an attitude issue) and unable (a skill issue) – Sellers that need to be told what to do.

  2. Willing but unable – Sellers that need managers to coach them step-by-step.

  3. Able but needy – Sellers that need some support and reassurance in certain situations.

  4. Self-sufficient – Sellers that have mastered a skill and can execute without manager support.

In my career as a first line salesperson I never had a manager that could assess and develop my skill deficiencies. Part of the issue was that there was no standard sales process nor the standard skill set needed to execute it.

My first manager just told me how many calls to make each week, analogous to “at bats.” He frightened me into meeting or exceeding the number of calls he assigned. The problem was that he couldn’t coach me and allow me to improve my “batting average.” Put another way, Jeff dictated the quantity without the ability to improve the quality of my selling efforts. As with many new sellers, I often confused activity with progress.

I was horribly inept when I started selling. After learning the ropes Jeff and subsequent sales managers just left me alone. I could have been better had any of them been able to assess and develop skill deficiencies. Unfortunately, many sales managers act more like administrators by looking in the rearview mirror at YTD positions against quota that are lagging indicators. Too few provide hands-on coaching as opportunities progress and teach the requisite skills to become more adept and hopefully develop more A Players.

2016 CCS Sales Index

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