Sales Management Will Not Get It…

Ten Steps to Robust and Productive Sales Leadership

Sales Management is anything but a spectator sport!   It requires the consistent application of proven strategies and tactics to develop effective sales professionals and thereby produce stellar sales results.  The questions are: what are these strategies and tactics and how do we develop a mentoring process that makes them systemic in our organization?

Over the next few weeks, we will provide in this blog the GCA 10 SALES LEADERSHIP IMPERATIVES – the tenets of a process that has proven to change behaviors, resulting in a reproducible mentoring system for sales leaders.

The following true discussion with an experienced sales manager of a top wealth management organization serves to define the situation many companies find themselves in.  As you read it, ask yourself, “To what degree does this situation resemble issues that I face?”

I made a sales call on the sales manager, who had been in the same management position with 2 different firms over the previous 15 years.  I had called on him a few times over the years and we had been hired by him at one of these firms a couple of years previously for a consulting engagement.   During this limited engagement, I became aware of the unfocused sales management that existed in his organization.

Overall, their sales effort had been nominally successful, principally because of the results achieved by two very successful producers.  Through discussions with other staff, I learned that this situation had persisted for the five years he had been at the firm.   I sensed that management was restless and wanted to see greater production, more broadly distributed.  I’m sure this is not something with which many reading this are unfamiliar!

I began this conversation by asking, “How is sales going?”

His response was as common as popcorn at the movies.  “. . . It’s going great.”

Having expected this response, I then stated, “Interesting . . . . Tell me more.”

He responded, “I’ve got a couple of pros who are knocking the cover off the ball.”

“And the rest . . . ?

There was a pause before he continued.  “Well . . . I have 6 who are . . . well, just OK . . . , and 4 who aren’t cutting it at all . . . .

Well, what’s your plan?”

I waited . . . .

I have 4 on a 90-day plan.”

And then what?”

If they don’t make plan, I have to let them go . . . . I’ve given them too long a leash already, and…honestly, I’m under some pressure to get some better producers.”

That’s a rather common predicament and plan, I interjected.  “Then you spend months hiring replacements, and after a year you are back in the same situationOne of the new hires does OK and three of them, like those they replaced, can’t cut it either.  After all, they are re-treads with whistle-stops at other firms before you hired them.”

He responded, “Right . . . . What do you suggest?!”

Knowing of his interest in baseball and that he had a young boy playing in a local youth program, I thought a brief story would get the point across . . .

Let’s say that you leave work hurriedly to attend your son’s first baseball game of the season.  It’s been a tough week . . . no . . . a tough month, and you are rushed and frantic.  Traffic is bad and you arrive just in time to see him stroll nervously to the plate for his first at-bat.  He sees you and, sheepishly but with a hint of a smile, lifts his hand and waves proudly that you are there for him.  The first pitch to him is a ball . . . then a called strike.  He swings wildly at the next two pitches . . . but misses both.  With his head hung and his lower lip quivering, he slinks back to the dugout.  He gets hit by a pitch the next time up, but strikes out looking in his next two at bats.

He’s initially quiet on the way home.  The silence is broken by your words of frustration.  ‘LookI’m busy and left work early to see you play . . . and you struck out three times . . . . You have to do better next time.’

Through tears, he says, ‘I want to do better Daddy . . . . Can you help me?’

That’s where many sales managers are . . . . Is it possible that this is your situation?

The sales manager replied, reluctantly but honestly, “Yes, that’s exactly where I am . . . . Can you help me?”

Absolutely we can,” I replied.  And we did!

In the next 11 segments of this series, I will lay out how we did it and how you can apply this repeatable process, coupled with proven strategies and skills, to go beyond mere sales management to become a truly effective and respected sales leader.   Join us over the next few weeks.

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