Guest post by Richard Tyson, CEObuilder
Sales mismanagement syndrome is quite common. It generally occurs when the star salesperson is “promoted” to sales manager. This often involves retaining his or her) accounts while taking over sales management. At face value, this seems efficient, having the advantage that the star will continue to shine; i.e., keep selling.
Unfortunately, this rarely works. The job of sales manager generally never gets off the ground because he (or she) effectively says, “Watch what I do and match it.” In other words, he competes with his sales team, failing to become a developer of new sales stars.
The key is to recognize that a sales manager is significantly different from a salesperson. The STAR²S Model focuses on that unique job description. The acronym is: S-Strategy, T-Training, A-Accountability, R²-Recruitment & Retention, and S-Support.
Sales managers are essential in translating company strategy into sales. They must:
— Reflect company vision, mission and values to the sales force
— Assure that sales personnel understand and sell the company’s distinctive competencies
— Regularly assess competitors and share that assessment
— Represent company marketing and prepare sales force to use marketing materials
— Define Sales’ essential role in making the company’s economic engine perform profitably
— Educate regarding the company’s unique selling dynamics, including their “normal selling cycle” and the customer’s “normal buying cycle”
Salespeople are often hired because they have sold elsewhere or have a gregarious personality. Because of this, they are often thrust into the field with little training. This is a mistake and sets up the salesperson for failure. Further, long-term salespeople may be believed to be “beyond training,” that is, they already know everything they need to succeed. Failing to offer them ongoing training is also a mistake.
Training should be company specific. It should include:
— Selling skills
— Knowledge—product, industry, competition, prospects/clients
— Effort—consistent performance of essential actions, or behaviors, activities, or actions that correlate with or cause desired outcomes.
When sales managers also sell, accountability often translates to, “Keep up with me!” This is a counterfeit. Accountability should consist of:
— Meeting goals and key performance indicators.
— Effort demonstrated through essential actions, e.g., sales calls, follow-up actions and advancement through the selling cycle.
Sales personnel should expect that their manager will hold them accountable through continuous sustaining actions, including day-to-day interactions and periodic reviews.
RECRUITMENT & RETENTION
Strong sales managers are always looking for new talent. However, the sales recruitment process at many companies is a “hope and a prayer” rather than a system for selecting future sales stars.
An effective recruitment process includes definition of:
— The position description
— Attributes of successful salespeople
— The culture of the company and what it takes to fit in
— Experience and education expected
— A recruitment process to attract multiple candidates, from which 4-5 strong prospective sales people will emerge
— An effective interview process
Retention is often felt to be a function of compensation and perks—and unquestionably, successful salespeople expect high compensation. However, other factors are important, including recognition for a job well done. Selling is unique, challenging and essential to business success. Further, star salespeople are generally competitive and ego-driven. Their loyalty is reinforced by positive, public feedback for their selling prowess.
Support involves extending oneself to each salesperson on a one-on-one basis. Because each is unique, there is no typical roadmap defining the support process. Many require continuous nurturing. This may appear unnecessary since salespeople often seem inherently self-assured. However, self-assurance can be destroyed easily—and confident performers can be disrupted by rejection or failure to meet their own high expectations. Others require “tough love.” Some strong performers coast when selling becomes “easy” or “natural.” That’s when a more demanding managerial style may be the prescription.
Effective sales managers continuously focus on key performance indicators that define sales success. Further, they will consistently focus on essential actions leading to successful achievement of those KPIs. Finally, they will provide sustaining actions assuring that salesperson essential actions are continuously accomplished.
Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner, and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses. For 21 years, CEObuilder has successfully brought about an outstanding financial return for CEO and executive clients through providing leading-edge content in the areas of strategizing, team-building, problem-solving and managing for results, as well as the use of proprietary learning and coaching processes.
Information in this article should not be considered legal or accounting advice from Bank of American Fork or its affiliates. Readers should seek such advice from their own qualified professionals.