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Small Compass Sound Sales: Hey, Sales Managers!!! Stop Rescuing Your Salespeople

By Mark McGlinchey - Written by Compass Group Solutions Founder Mark McGlinchey, this article first appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal

Let them win and lose alone.  Many sales managers believe their number one responsibility is to help their salespeople close deals. As if the salesperson has pitched seven innings of a nine inning game, now it’s time for the sales manager to come in and close the deal. It’s human nature to want to help or rescue the sales professionals we manage. If you’re a sales manager, chances are good that some, if not all, of your compensation is based on results. Therefore, if one of your people is working a deal, you want to pitch in and help.

It’s also possible that your boss or people above you in the corporate food chain see it as your responsibility to help your salespeople close deals. 1, 2, 3… take a deep breath and stop!! Your salespeople have to learn to win or lose alone, and then they must continue to do so.

Two bad things can happen if you continue to rescue your salespeople:

  1. The salespeople will become much too dependant on you. Somewhere down the road, there may not be enough of you to go around. This process will also hamper the development of their sales skills. This practice can also short-circuit their self-confidence.

  2. You will be credited with all of the losses and you will never be recognized in the corporation for a win The people above you in the food chain will feel this way and the people you manage will also feel this way. Since you are involved in the losses, and your presence is considered to be a reason for the loss, poor salespeople now get a longer tenure. If it wasn’t for you, they would have been more successful.

Actively working deals with your salespeople puts you in a position where you are enabling rather than managing. It’s perfectly fine to debrief them about any deals they are working, or to give suggestions and advice about those deals. However, do not work the deal with them or for them. If you have to help a salesperson work deals, you either need to fire them or put them in a good skills training program.

Manage behavior

Manage the behavior and activities of your salespeople not their skills and strategy. Hopefully, your salespeople have a destination with a roadmap and a compass. If they don’t, you certainly need to provide the roadmap and a compass – which is mandatory, above the trouble line activity that you expect them to be accomplishing. Sales may not happen if you try to manage results. However, results happen much more frequently if you are managing behavior and activity.

Manage the pipeline

This concept is very similar to managing behavior and activity. Chances are that you have quarterly numbers you need to meet. You should know the average length of time of your selling cycle or the selling cycle of your salespeople. you should have a good handle on what percentage of business usually closes in comparison to the deals which are being worked. Let’s pretend you have a quota next quarter for $ 10 million in new business, the sales cycle is about 90 days long, and the typical closing rate of your sales force is 30%. Thus, by doing the math, it’s pretty obvious you need $ 30 million in the pipeline at the beginning of the quarter if you’re going to hit your $ 10 million quota at the end of the quarter. By effectively managing your pipeline with enough lead time, you can crack the whip and increase the amount activity that’s necessary from your sales force.

Manage the customer base

There’s nothing wrong with your sales force maintaining a strong relationship with your customers – especially if those customers are prospects for new or additional business. However, a good sales manager needs to maintain a relationship that is as strong or even stronger than the sales professional with key customers. You never want to be held hostage by a weak salesperson because they have a stronger relationship with a customer than what you have. Nor do you want to be in a position of trying to establish a relationship with your customers if your salesperson leaves you. Obviously, if one of your salespeople leaves to work for the competition, as long as you have maintained a strong relationship with the customer base, you may have lost a salesperson but you will be able to retain your clients.

 

Keywords: Sales Management Stop Rescuing Salespeople, Manage Sales Pipeline, Manage Sales Client Base, Manage Sales Behavior, Manage Sales Customer Base, Sales Tips, Sales Professional Development, Sales Leadership Development, Sales Management Tips, Sound Sales, Sales Consulting, Compass Group Solutions, Mark McGlinchey


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