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Archive for the ‘CRM’ Category

10 Ways for Sales Managers to Ruin Their Reputation and Lose Their Team’s Respect

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Nice title, huh?   This article, although the title may suggest otherwise, is presented in a positive tone.  There are actually more than 10 common practices that Sales Managers use that do more to frustrate their teams.  Avoiding these practices takes planning and a strategic approach to sales management which is often lacking.  Across the board organizations spend way more teaching their salespeople process and strategy than they do for their sales managers.  Sales managers are really left to figure it out on their own.  So, after polling many salespeople and using my own experience as a salesperson and a sales manager (not that I ever did any of these things!), I thought I would share a list of 10 Ways for Sales Managers to Ruin their Reputations and Lose their Team’s Respect.

1.  Hold boring, unproductive or negative sales team meetings.  I own Meeting to Win - clearly I’m passionate about this one.  It’s a reputation killer!

2.  Keep introducting the ”flavors of the month”.  A Sales Manager gets an idea from a book, a colleague or divine inspiration.  They march in Monday morning with “we are going to start….”.  It usually comes with a new report, a task force or, at the very least, additional meetings.  It dies in a week with no acknowledgment.  It just quits coming up and salespeople learn to stop taking this stuff seriously.

3.  Don’t protect selling time.  Sales Managers who blindly ablige senior management emergency reports and other fire drills without ever putting up resistance in the protection of selling time are not helping their salespeople succeed.  Salespeople begin to see them as the enemy working against their progress.

4.  Hire bad team members.  The team knows it and it affects the team’s performance and culture immediately.

5.  Don’t address disruptive or underperforming reps in a timely manner.  The team is watching how the managers address or put up with these things.  Managers who address these things early and positively create a culture of performance.  The opposite does, well, the opposite.

6.  Don’t stand up for the team members.  Sales Managers are a bit like parents.  Discipline in private, praise in public. Salespeople need an ally, it should be their Sales Manager.

7.  Take the credit for the team’s successes.  Sales Managers who have successful teams do get the credit, they don’t need to give it to themselves.

8.  Pass the blame for the team’s failures.  This is an ugly one.  Again, Sales Managers are getting the blame even if they try to pass it elsewhere.  They just need to own it and fix it.

9.  Forget what it’s like to be on the front lines.  Sales Managers too often lose the feel for the field.  They get too busy to get in the field, too.  Sales Managers need to spend 3 days a week in the field with their reps and not lose the feel.

10.  Mess up on a customer meeting.  Sales Managers should enhance a customer meeting, not ruin hard work.  Enough said.

BONUS:  A rep just shared this great one with me!  Schedule one-on-ones or meetings and then continually cancel and postpone them.  The team members are planning around and preparing for these and emailing them to postpone the meeting for an hour or even 10 minutes is disrespectful and rude. 

If you are guilty of any of these, now is the time to address it.  Your reputation depends on it.

The Worst Case Scenario

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

It seems that when some make the transition from revenue-producing sales rep to sales leader, they forget some very important realities.  They no longer want to hear about the realities of the field.  They want to call those “excuses”.  I admit, I like to look at everything and determine the worst case scenario.  This does not bum me out, it actually makes me feel better to have a game plan should the worst case scenario play out.  It never does and it still feels good to be prepared.

The reality is that things happen that are disruptive.  Some of these things the reps’ own companies do to them, some are economy driven, some are customer driven.  Yet, leadership still expects the reps to turn in 8% revenue growth.  If you kick a marathon runner in the knee at mile 13, that runner may not beat his previous finishing time.  That’s a reality.  I don’t believe that sales reps like to “make excuses”.  I believe they really want to explain their performance, good or bad.  Being able to explain why something happens is a key ingredient in duplicating the good results and avoiding the poor results.

So, I challenge sales leaders to face reality. Among other things, the following is a list of things that ARE disruptive:

  • Moving territory lines.
  • Adding or taking away accounts.
  • Pulling them out of the field for training.
  • Asking them to complete a whole new set of reports.
  • Introducing a new CRM.
  • Giving them a new product to sell.
  • Reorganizing your sales team.
  • Changing compensation.

And the list goes on.  I challenge sales leaders to face the reality of disruptions instead of pretending like they won’t be disruptions.  It’s delusional to think the sales team won’t be distracted.  They are human beings, not machines. 

Instead, look 30-90 days out and figure out what is coming down the line that could possibly cause distraction for your sales team.  Figure out the worst case scenario in terms of how this disruption may impact your sales results.  You can’t see everything coming so at least get out in front of what you can see.  Get your team together and face reality together.  Expect to be distracted and proactively figure out how to sell through it.  You’ll reduce distraction and your team will have fewer “excuses”.

Face reality and your reality will be much brighter.

Stop Playing It “Safe” – Ask for Commitments

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

(This week’s Meeting to Win focus is on Playing to Win instead of Playing to NOT Lose.   Meeting to Win provides a new, fresh sales team meeting agenda every week for our Subscribers.  Start having productive sales team meetings that result in superior sales performance with Meeting to Win.)

For some reason, there is often a sense of comfort when a prospective client asks us to do or provide something – see a demo, send me information, etc.  We believe we have a solution that may meet their needs and we take their request as a sign that they may also believe that.  As sales reps, happy to stay engaged with this prospect, we march off to provide the requested information.  This prospective client may very well want this information and have a real plan to evaluate our solution and actually make a go/no-go decision on purchasing from us or not. 

On the other hand, they may be making this request for any number of other reasons – and we may be playing along for any number of reasons.  Those reasons can include:

  • They are too nice to tell you that have no intention of spending a dime with you.
  • They are busy and the fastest way to get rid of you is to send you on an errand.
  • They are really good at kicking the tires, but have no history of actually buying. 
  • They stay in the eternal sales cycle never actually moving forward on anything.  Professional window shoppers exist in every company.
  • They are afraid if they tell you “no” that you will keep trying to sell them.  No one enjoys being on the receiving end of this tactic.
  • Your pursuit makes them feel important (ugly truth alert!).
  • They think they have some power to make this decision.  Meanwhile, someone else is actually making the decision at some other level.
  • We feel “safe” to simply stay engaged in the sales cycle.  We have something to report on our activity tracker, in our pipelines and during our team meeting updates.  We’ve bought another week of activity.
  • You look so happy when they ask you for something.

Those just a few of the reasons sales reps are asked to run these errands.  How do sales reps stop being gophers?  One way is to lay out the next few steps or commitments on both sides.  Next time you are asked to run an errand, ask what decision they plan to make once you provide the requested information and by when.  For example, if they ask to see a demo of your software.  Find out what they hope to gain from the demo (the demo may not be what they even need) and what decision they plan to make upon seeing the demo (no-go, take the next step, involve other decision makers, etc) and by when they plan to make the decision (is there even a timeline?). 

It feels “safe” to stay engaged and really….it’s a collosal waste of time.  Stop playing it “safe” and start helping your clients make decisions that will ultimately help their businesses succeed.  Get commitments before you run the errand – everyone wins when you have an efficient process. 

(This week’s Meeting to Win focus is on Playing to Win instead of Playing to NOT Lose.   Meeting to Win provides a new, fresh sales team meeting agenda every week for our Subscribers.  Start having productive sales team meetings that result in superior sales performance with Meeting to Win.)