4 Steps on How to Not Get Fired!”
by Ken Thoreson
On my flight to Seattle I was pondering what this week’s blog might contain; it occurred to me that in reflecting on the past year and looking forward a quick summary of a few basic actions sales leadership must take to succeed would be of value.
Step One: Build an active recruiting plan. Most sales managers get fired for not hitting the desired sales goals, the issue is normally because they have a lack of salespeople selling their products/services! You must know what is your average transaction value is vs your yearly or monthly sales objectives? The question you need to know is: “do you have enough salespeople on board to achieve your monthly number of required sales transactions? “ A sales manager must look out 90-120 days knowing your future potential revenue objectives and understand your manpower requirements. Recruiting is sales leadership’s marketing campaign for sales leads. Build an ongoing program to ensure you have the right talent in place to exceed your goals.
Step Two: Know your pipeline metrics. This is something I have written about before but it is what can bite the sales manager. You must know the accurate value of the pipeline 90-120 days out (depending upon your sales cycle). The question you must ask is: “do you have enough number of opportunities both in value and number of opportunities to achieve your upcoming monthly quota? If not, what can you do to ensure you build up the pipeline values so that you will have enough opportunities to achieve the monthly objective? It’s November, what is your February pipeline value? Do you have the necessary values to achieve February’s goals when it’s February first?
Step Three: Is your team trained? Recently, at one of my new clients; my client, a technical team member and myself “listened in’ as two of their salespeople gave a demonstration to a major new client sales opportunity. It became obvious to the president that the salespeople were not professional or even capable of handling the meeting. It was enlightening and a crucial step towards increasing the need for continued focus on sales training. The sales team had been neglecting our recommendations as to improving their skill level, and now there will be an increased buy in by management and peer levels to focus on sales skills.
- · Make more sales calls with your team,
- · build in a quarterly salesperson skills evaluation process,
- · increase more role playing in your sales training meetings
- · Build a quarterly sales training programs
Step Four: Improve your professional business acumen. 1) Make sure you read the local business sections in your local papers, the Wall Street Journal, business magazines/web sites, 2) read 3 business books a year and 3) join a sales leadership “peer group” of other sales managers to learn how others are increasing their leadership skills. This step will improve your ability to discuss the business trends of the day with prospects and your sales team, increase your stature within your management team and improve how you manage your team.
Follow these four steps and your odds of surviving the normal 18 month window that most sales leaders live under will improve.
Ken Thoreson is the president and founder of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org Ken’s latest book is: “Recruiting a High Performance Sales Team”.