Tag Archives: sales

Reactive vs Proactive Sales Management

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
We have 15 sales managers and 100 sales reps. We’ve taken top performing sales reps and made them managers. Now as managers they are finding it hard to find time to manage the behaviors of their rep team members. They don’t argue that the more time they spend directing their reps the more productive the reps become. But these dedicated managers are spending nights and weekends catching up with directing (through our CRM) the actions of the reps. The managers are still our best closers. No one on the team is better. How do I coach the manager?

Response:
As the sales manager (of reps), what do you want me to do? What is the level of work?

If your dedicated managers are spending nights and weekends directing their reps, what do they do in the daytime? This description is classic S-II behavior. It appears there is no system, no systematic coaching, no systematic sales planning. It appears things are ad-hoc, reactive and improvised. It is possible to be effective with this strategy, but at what cost? You will burn out your sales managers and begin to experience turnover.

This ad-hoc behavior is your fault. You have not created an effective system (S-III) for your sales managers to work in. Your coaching with your sales managers needs to focus on sales planning, pipeline evaluation and rep evaluation. What are the proactive moves (rather than reactive moves)?

As long as your sales managers remain reactive, your company will experience no better sales performance than it has in the past. Only when you create a system approach to your market, will you experience deeper penetration. And, your system should be operated as a day job, not nights and weekends.
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Level of Work Required in a Sales Role

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
We need to hire someone in a sales role. You said in your workshop that we need to identify the level of work. What’s the level of work in a sales role?

Response:
The consultant’s answer is always, it depends.

But, it depends on something very specific. The level of work will depend of the length of your sales cycle.

Level I – Time-span (1 day – 3 months)
Short sales cycles can be effectively maintained by trained order takers. Level I sales roles can be found in catalogue call centers, counter sales and sales oriented customer service centers.

Level II – Time-span (3 – 12 months)
Sales work at Level II is found in longer sales cycle projects, where building relationships is important. This sales work consists of prospecting for new customers, qualifying prospective customers, gathering customer needs according to a checklist, matching products to customer needs, making presentations, negotiating and closing the sale. On the customer side, the counterpart to Level II sales work would be the purchasing agent.

Level III – Time-span (1 – 2 years)
Decisions in business to business purchases often require additional input. While the buying criteria for most purchasing agents is price, the Level III buyer, sometimes a specifying engineer, is more concerned about function. Interacting with a Level III buyer may require the capability of a Level III sales person, a product engineer. Sales work at this level is more concerned with needs analysis, product match and application. Sales functions like prospecting may be delegated to sales team members at Level II.

Level IV – Time-span (2-5 years)
Occasionally the buying decision involves product functionality that integrates with other systems that exist in the customer organization. The Level II purchasing agent is concerned about price. The Level III specifying engineer is concerned about function. The Level IV buyer is concerned about how the product or service will integrate with other systems in the company. Sales cycles greater than two years may require Level IV capability to understand the complexities of how the product or service integrates into customer systems. A primary accountability for this level of work in the selling company will be feedback loops into research and product or service development. Examples of Level IV sales roles exist in pharmaceuticals, automobile components, electronic components, large scale construction projects, international logistics, financial instruments and insurance products. -Tom

Keep Them or Transition Them Out

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
In an attempt to retain their highest producers, a call center instituted an incentive plan that highly favored a group of seven. These “Magnificent Seven,” as the partners called them, did produce a high percentage of the revenues. But they were also highly dysfunctional as a group as each one was high maintenance with lots of personal baggage in his/her own right. While the reward system worked to retain these seven, the churn rate for the remaining 23 seats was over 400%. In effect, the incentives to retain seven people came at the expense of morale, work environment, job satisfaction and even the bottom line. The cost of continuously replacing the 23 employees far exceeded the benefit of retaining the seven. Your thoughts?

Response:
So, if I was a direct manager and needed high volume sales for only the next three months, I would go the M-7 every time. But, that is not the way most organizations work. Most organizations need sustained revenue over years and decades. Most organizations need a sustainable system of sales which contemplates sales methodology, recruiting, orientation, portfolio growth, levels of work, promotion and retirement. This goes back to time span.

Three months time span – Magnificent Seven
Ten year time span – Not the Magnificent Seven