As we look to re-orient our sales organizations to be more focused on demand creation than on demand management, leaders at every level need to re-examine what they’re asking their people to do that actually gets in the way of increased sales performance.Here are a few examples of what I mean:
I see too many stations where GM’s require multiple levels of sales management to be at the weekly department head meeting. Communication between departments and the GM are important, no argument there. But do you really need the GSM, LSM, and Digital lead in the same meeting? Remember, if they have a morning tied up because of your meeting, that’s a morning they can’t be on the street, which is really where we want them to be. Getting LSM’s on the street—in a coaching and observation mode, not just trying to rescue business or taking over a call—has to be a huge priority today. What obstacles are we creating that inadvertently keep this from happening?
Sales managers need to examine things they’re doing that also keep people off the street. Do you read every report you ask them for? Does the every morning “huddle” keep people from early calls? We know that our closing percentages on presentations we make in the morning are way higher than they are as the day goes on. So, encouraging your AE’s to schedule their presentations as early in the day as possible will increase your sales. But too many managers have things in place that keep that from happening. That’s worth looking at.
Sales meetings are essential. Because I’m such a huge believer in “sell in the morning, service and do paperwork in the afternoon,” I advocate that sales meetings happen on Monday mornings. (Business owners are just getting oriented on Monday mornings, as well, so that’s probably not the best presentation day!) When you schedule your sales meeting for Tuesday or another morning, you effectively reduce your best closing time by 25%. It wasn’t a big deal in a time when demand exceeded supply. But now?
At our Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp, we encourage sales leaders to schedule any other meetings in the PM. That way, I’ll have a weekly Monday AM sales meeting to start the week. But any brainstorming or training meeting has to happen in the afternoon.
Even corporate can help. When I speak at GM or GSM meetings, I always get a laugh when I describe the scenario. A corporate leader is watching TV on a Sunday when they see an ad for a pizza place. They start to wonder how much money they’re getting from pizza restaurants in their markets. They write one of those “all GM’s” emails to ask that question. By the time that gets passed down, it’s with a mandate that the GM must have that info by COB today. Multiply the work that takes by the number of markets you oversee, and you get a really clear idea of how much time got sucked out of your organization by a passing thought on a Sunday afternoon. Today, I think leaders (including myself in our company) have to ask if every request for info is really necessary or is what I’ll learn worth the time my people will give up to answer my request.
As I re-read this, I’m sure I’ve probably offended a few GM’s, a bunch of sales managers, and even a few of my corporate friends who hire our company. Why would I do that? Here’s the reason. Every week I hear a sales manager lament that they can’t get great people (a subject for another of these articles). We need more bodies on the street to be making more calls and creating more demand. No disagreement there. But what if I could reduce the obstacles I place on my salespeople and sales managers by 10%? If I have a sales staff of 10, I’ve just added the equivalent of another body, with no increase in expense.
We need more presentations.
We need to get our people in front of customers more times each week.
We need to work every month to increase our closing percentages.
And, we have to make sure we aren’t accidentally doing things that prevent this from happening.
What would I like to have you do as a result of this article? Ask your team what management could do to reduce things that keep them from the street. Ask those questions after explaining why it’s important, maybe even share this article. Then, really listen to the answers and honestly ask yourself if something you’re doing is part of the problem or part of the solution.
Jim Doyle and the JDA team are passionate about helping sales managers get better. One of the ways they do that is the Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp. This program gets rave reviews with a combination of real-world ideas and inspirational outside speakers. Our next Boot Camp is in Tampa, January 2018. More info: Boot Camp 2018