If your Sales force is under performing, far too often Sales Management is the heart of the problem. Since the Sales Manager works for you, it’s your responsibility to correct the problem. It’s your responsibility to ramp up their performance. The following are a few things that you can do to get things going in the right direction.
- Apply Some Pressure…Ask for a Plan
Go to your Sales Manager and have the following conversation: “I’ve decided that we are going to get to (pick a number), $10 million in sales this year. I want you to take the next week and come back with your plan on how you are going to get it done.” Obviously, tell the Sales Manager that you will be on board with a good plan and will play your part in the effort. BUT, it’s up to the Sales manager to figure it out….That’s part of their job.
- Make Sure you actually have a Sales Manager
If Sales Management cannot be a full time job, expand the Sales Manager’s role…into ANYTHING BUT that of a Sales Person. They can be one or the other, not both. It has been shown countless times that if you have a Salesperson/Sales Manager, you are actually the Sales Manager. Or, worse yet, you don’t have one at all. Here are some ideas for filling the part-time Sales Manager’s plate. Marketing Manager, Customer Service Manager, Special Accounts Management. Figure out what works with your firm.
- Observe the Chain of Command
The day you feel that you need to go around the Sales Manager and deal with the Sales Force directly, is the day you need to fire the Sales Manager. You work with the Sales Manager. They work with the Sales Force. A true professional Sales Manager won’t have it any other way.
- Support the Sales Force Professional Development
SALES PEOPLE ARE MADE NOT BORN. So, be prepared to spend some money to improve the skills of the Sale Force. This should be woven into the Plan mentioned above. Do not BLINDLY throw money at training. Instead ask the Sales Manager to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each Sales Person and craft an improvement effort with concrete actions. Anything vague doesn’t count, so be prepared to help the Sales Manager crystallize it for you. If the cost/benefit of the efforts measure up, fund it.
- Model or Re-Model a “Win-Win” Sales Compensation Plan
Sales people do what is in their own economic best interest. Too often the compensation plan drives the wrong behavior and nurtures the wrong attitudes. As such, your Sales Manager is fighting an uphill battle, and it’s your fault. Establish a solid Pay for Performance Plan. A good place to start might be: Net Revenue – Overhead – Debt Service Load – Profit Load. If you have trouble modeling it out, get help.