April 6, 2013
Sales Management and the Need for Simplicity
Sales managers live in a complex world. In fact, we believe that they have the most complex role in any organization. They typically have to navigate high-stress relationships with salespeople, customers, leadership, marketing, finance, IT, and others both inside and outside their company. And they do all of this while working under the pressure of meeting aggressive sales targets.
What we think sales managers need today is less complexity in their lives. And we at Vantage Point Performance are committed to simplifying the lives of sales managers by providing them with the frameworks and tools to do two critical things:
1) Better prioritize their activities and the activities of their salespeople
2) Make better real-time decisions
We often ask sales managers what they would do if they had an additional 5 hours in the week. The response is always some form of, “I would do the things that I know are important but I never get around to doing.” Like coaching. Liking developing their reps. You know, all the important stuff that sales managers are hired to do.
Well, the reality is that 5 more hours are not coming. Ever. So we point out to those managers that they have a simple choice to make: They can either concede that they are never going to do the important stuff, or they can change their priorities. Obviously, they want to make the right choice and change their priorities, but that’s not as easy as it seems. There’s a lot of stuff to choose from, and the impact of the alternatives can be difficult to measure.
The research that went into our book Cracking the Sales Management Code solves this problem. It provides a framework for sales managers to prioritize their activities and the activities of their reps. It demonstrates that there is only a handful of things that sales managers can actually affect, and it provides a process for identifying the specific activities that will have the highest impact on performance. Once it’s known which activities will have the greatest impact, it’s much easier for managers to prioritize their effort.
We also ask sales managers how they make important decisions. Unfortunately, their answers are not always satisfying. And we don’t blame the sales managers for this, because the overwhelming majority of them are not taught how to make good decisions. They are given decision-making tools, and it’s assumed that they will know what to do with them.
For example, sales managers are provided with plenty of sales reports from CRM tools, but are they ever taught how to use the reports? Are they taught which of those numbers are important and which are just distractions? In our experience, no. Sadly, traditional sales management training programs have neglected even basic management activities like reading sales reports.
Our research also provides sales management with the frameworks to make better decisions. Which reps should they be spending time with? When should they meet and how often? How should they conduct the meeting and where? What data do they need to have a productive discussion? How do they act when sales performance doesn’t improve? How should they act when it does?
These are just a sampling of critical decisions that we see sales management often get wrong. And these are just a sampling of the questions that we help managers make in a more informed way. When key decisions are made correctly, sales performance improves. When they are made incorrectly, sales performance flounders. We strongly believe that improved sales performance comes down to improved decision-making my sales management.
So this is what we do. We help sales managers to better prioritize their effort and to make better decisions every day. With clear priorities and confident decisions, sales management becomes a much less stressful and much more enjoyable career. It becomes simpler. And sales performance improves.