Take It to the Top
Now that the worst of the recession is behind us, it's time to think about actually growing the business again. And that means investing in the improvement of the sales force. Most astute principals and chief sales officers realize that in this very competitive economic environment, those companies who sell better than the rest will take market share away from their less effective competitors.
Yet budgets are still tight, and CEOs remain nervous. What to do? Start with the sales managers.
Because of their daily interaction with the sales force and the market, sales managers have the levers to ratchet up sales performance in the entire team.
While most people intuitively understand the link between effective sales management and improved sales results, research in the last few years has confirmed it. For example, a study by Wilson Learning Worldwide, Inc. concluded sales teams under the oversight of a highly skilled sales manager produced "29 percent higher revenue, 47 percent higher employee satisfaction, and 16 percent higher customer satisfaction."
Unfortunately, of all the job positions in a typical B2B sales force, the first line sales managers are the least trained for their positions. Most have never been educated in the best practices of effective sales management. As a result, they default to the habits and practices they saw when they were salespeople.
Sales management practices vary from one extreme to another, depending on the individual manager's vision of himself or herself. There is a continuum from micromanager to non-manager. .
Some identify with the sales people, and wouldn't think of impinging on anyone's style or system of work. Others see themselves as executives who don't really have time for the nitty gritty of joint sales calls.
Still others, suffering from a lack of a clear vision as to what their role could be, default to a reactive style of management, where their time is directed to the most compelling of the countless number of issues that cry for today's attention.