10 posts categorized "Sales Management"


Why is the Sales Process Such a Mystery?

It must be a mystery because so few companies do it well!

CRM failure is usually linked to a faulty sales process definition!

IStock_000019380676_SmallOne of the most common questions a sales consultant will ask, because so few companies have it right, is “What is your sales process?”  It’s a common question I ask and the answers are often evasive, confused, too simple, or too complex and they all have something in common: the sales process was usually created without the consent of or input from the people who use it - - the salespeople.

Considering that the sales process (also referred to as stages or steps) is used for the sales forecast, the basis for so much of the company’s operations, it borders on stupid that the salespeople aren’t consulted on either the steps or the language by which they will manage their business and future. 

Granted, some sales representatives welcome an obscure definition and structure.  It helps them hide, avoid embarrassing questions, and control what management hears.  However, it also obscures what management knows about the future revenue, cash flow inventory, and a host of other key business indicators…all because the salespeople were not consulted.  

 Sales Processes Cannot be Created in a Vacuum, or in the CEO’s Head

Understanding the sales steps that together make up the sales process should start with understanding how customers buy your products (a subject for another time), and then understanding how the most successful salespeople in your organization sell. 

Continue reading "Why is the Sales Process Such a Mystery?" »


Getting a donkey to drink?

Wisdom says, “You show him a drinking donkey.” How true it is in our relations with co-workers in Sales and Marketing, that we often tell, mandate, demand, coerce, force, pressure, compel, dictate and intimidate…but we seldom lead by example.


For instance: 

1. There is the sales manager who tells his salespeople to use the CRM system, but doesn’t use it herself.

Continue reading "Getting a donkey to drink? " »


You can't sprinkle sugar on bull____ and call it candy!

Sometimes it doesn’t make any difference how much sugar you add to something it won’t change the outcome.   Sprinkle a little or a lot of sugar on bull___ and it won’t change the taste; you can’t make it into candy.   You have to start with meaningful ingredients.  Let’s take sales lead management (yeah, I know it’s a stretch, but read a bit more).


 C-level managers want to spend only enough on marketing to make forecast.  That’s it.  Anything more from their perspective and the money is wasted.   CFOs and CEOs only have a hint of an idea on branding.  To them branding is just another way for marketing to spend money without being held accountable.

Continue reading "You can't sprinkle sugar on bull____ and call it candy!" »


Are you the mediocre manager that is always at your best?

At the end of my February 26th, 2012 blog entry on the Sales Lead Management Association, (one of the best read so far) entitled “All know the way; few actually walk it. ~Bodhidharma,” I quoted Giraudoux’s famous saying, “Only the mediocre are always at their best.”  

IStock_000000796755SmallAs typically happens when we read something like this, we assume “the mediocre” is always someone else.  It’s certainly not us.  Now maybe that’s true in your case, or maybe it isn’t; maybe there are many mediocre managers, or just some with mediocre traits and results.   Maybe its just someone who continually cuts corners. 

I offer the following thoughts on what a mediocre sales or marketing manager can most often be accused of as it pertains to their work.   I think “the mediocre” marketing and sales managers (as regards to sales leads) possess these traits:

Continue reading "Are you the mediocre manager that is always at your best?" »


The Golden Rule for Making the Sales Forecast

The Golden Rule for achieving the sales forecast is: make the 1st month of the year.* Make the month and you will make the first quarter. Make the first quarter and your opportunity to make the second quarter increases dramatically. Make the 2nd quarter and the momentum taking you into the 3rd quarter is almost unstoppable. Make the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters and you will virtually coast into the 4th quarter.

Which coincidently, sets you up for the first quarter of your new year. Nice the way this happens.

Continue reading "The Golden Rule for Making the Sales Forecast" »


Seven Ways to Motivate Salespeople to Follow Up Inquiries

The following is an excerpt from: James Obermayer, Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, (Mason, Ohio, Textere an imprint of Thomson/South-Western, 2007) and Racom Books, Page 167.

Seven Ways to Motivate Salespeople to Follow Up Inquiries

1. Greed: They will make more money. Talk to more people and they will sell more product. It is a simple law of averages.

2. Fear: They must make quota. Sometimes sales reps need to be reminded that a sales quota is a contract between the salesperson and the company. In order to make quota, they must sell product at a predictable level, which can only be done if they speak to more people than the number of customers who must be converted every year. A constant flow of new prospects helps them do this.

Continue reading "Seven Ways to Motivate Salespeople to Follow Up Inquiries" »

Sales Stages: Funnel, Opportunity, Deal or Pipeline

The following is an excerpt from: James Obermayer, Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, (Mason, Ohio, Textere an imprint of Thomson/South-Western, 2007) and Racom Books, Page 111

Sales Stages: Funnel, Opportunity, Deal, or Pipeline


Once the lead is sent to the salesperson, it begins to go through a filtering process that will either kill it as a prospect or advance it to the next level of the pipeline. These stages can be just a few or a dozen or more. Every company and its products are different. The basic stages are here, but others can be added.

Continue reading "Sales Stages: Funnel, Opportunity, Deal or Pipeline" »

George Patton’s Lessons You Have No Choice But to Attack, Attack and Attack.

George Patton said, "Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more."    During a recession, CEOs, presidents and sales and marketing managers are each confronted with one of two choices. 

  1. Will we defend, therefore shrink, possibly survive and in the process risk the death of our enterprise?
  2. Will we fight and take market share from those who choose defense and cannot manage their business?

Continue reading "George Patton’s Lessons You Have No Choice But to Attack, Attack and Attack." »


Why Do Sales Managers Avoid Personal Coaching?

In my experience as an interim executive and a coach to sales managers, I have noticed that many hesitate to accept coaching when sales are down.  To understand this, lets use an analogy, a football quarterback.  Say there is a QB who is self-coached and he takes the field and refuses coaching advice. He practices by himself, learns what he can from game films and judges his success or failure by the scoreboard.    He is on his own, sink or swim. 

Is this realistic?  Not really. 

Every quarterback has the need to improve, change his game and grow.  He may not grow stronger as the years pass, but he grows smarter.  If he lasts without injuries, he gets sneakier, not faster.  He becomes more accurate and that accuracy and wisdom will help him survive and win more games.  He can’t do it alone, he has coaches.   The coaches help him grow and improve, recover and change as the game and the players change. 

Every superstar athlete learns from his mistakes and seeks coaches who can help add to their wisdom, skills and game smarts. So why would a sales manager be any different? 

I find it interesting that salespeople are more open to coaching then sales managers.  The sales managers seem to take the attitude that they are the sales quarterback, but coaching isn’t something they need.  Many never read a book about management, attend seminars or webinar’s and if the president sees them fumble the ball a few times and suggests a coach, the sales manager often takes it as a personal affront and pushes back. 

A typical sales manager might say, "But a coach doesn’t know how WE sell.  They don’t have experience in OUR marketplace.  They don’t know OUR products."   And so it goes for many of them until they are losing so many games (sales), the team members are turning over (not making quota or quitting) and management is trying to decide if the sales manager is in a temporary slump or has he lost his or her touch with the team (salespeople, customers and management). 

I guarantee you that if a quarterback is in a slump, he seeks as much help as he can get.  He wants experts who review his game plan (sales plan), playing skills (training and hiring), and critique his performance.  After all, when the game is over, the QB gets praise, attention and kudos for his performance if he wins; credits the coach.   A QB doesn’t show weakness in asking for coaching to get him through a slump and a sales manager should show the same wisdom. 

Sometimes coaching comes from a formal coaching arrangement, sometimes from a trusted mentor or sometimes both.  Regardless, if the slump extends for more than a quarter, there has to be a change in the game plan; the sooner the better.

New Sales Manager’s Need Coaching!

So far we talked about seasoned sales managers who encounter a slump.    Yet, we can’t forget the new sales manager who has his first management position.    He or she is determined to "do it right" and not make the mistakes others have made.  And yet their inexperience in managing people, sales processes, skills training, incentive compensation and all of the other skills are new to the manager.    Maybe he or she can sell, but that isn’t what the new job is about.    Having a coach helps a new sales manager increase the likelihood of the manager being successful and reduces mistakes that everyone makes in the first year on a new job.

How can sales coaches perform if they don’t know the product category?

Sales coaches excel because they have had experience in coaching a hundred sales managers of all skill levels and every type of product.  Their job is to make sure the manager is the star.   The sales manager knows the product; the sales coach knows how to get the best from the manager and his or her team.  They understand the sales process, hiring, training, sales skills, goal setting, incentive compensation, motivation and negotiation.  They do this because they like to coach. 

So the next time you see your sales manager fighting a slump, consider finding a coach to help him or her work their way out of it.   If you are a sales manager, consider seeking a coach and mentor before the president taps you on the shoulder and asks what you’re going to do about sales.  It could be worse on many levels if you wait too long.

In the next blog post, we’ll discuss how to find the right sales coach for your sales manager. 


Sales Managment needs to get on board with the CRM Program

More than one of my clients has a sales manager that wants his salespeople to use the system, but he or she won’t use it themselves.   They can’t coach salespeople to use it and most just wink at salespeople when marketing people plead for them to close out the leads so marketing can put an ROI figure on campaigns. 
Hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars are spend on a CRM program that has high hopes, but no support from the most important potential sponsor and user, the sales manager.  Without a buy-in from sales management, many CRM programs fail miserably and coincidentally so do the sales managers.

I have my own ideas, but can someone give our membership some of your own wisdom on how you over-came the resistance of the sales manager?   Tell us a story of the circumstance and what you did to succeed.

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