I’ve been obsessing about this date, May 24, 2016 for some months. It is the target date we established for the launch of Sales Manager Survival Guide.
We’ve made it, for some of you who’ve visited Amazon, we actually made it several days ago!
This is an unusual post, my sole objective is to get you to BUY! I have two fundamental reasons to ask that you BUY, particularly in the next couple of days. My reasons, however, aren’t to “get the order,” so I hit the sales goals the team established.
Long time readers of this blog know that I’m always focused on how we create value for our customers. How we help customers solve problems or address new opportunities.
Consequently, my first plea for you to BUY is to help you GET SMART. If you are a new front line sales manager, you probably have discovered there’s no roadmap to what it takes to be successful in the job of a sales leader. There are very few books that cover the entire job. My goal in writing the book is to help you GET SMARTER, to help you go beyond just surviving, but thriving. To understand the sheer fun and joy of being in the toughest job in sales.
If you are an experienced front line sales manager, my goal is to help you GET SMARTER! You’ve deep experience as a sales leader. But sometimes, we get into bad habits, or perhaps just stuck. BUYing the Sales Manager Survival Guide is your opportunity to look at your job from a different point of view. Perhaps to reflect on what you’ve done well, areas where you haven’t achieved what you hoped for, or to explore some new ideas.
If you are an individual contributor and you aspire to a sales leadership role, this book will help you learn. It will provide you insight into what it takes to be a top performing sales manager. It will help you learn, perhaps getting a head start on having a successful start for when you move into a sales leadership role.
If you are an experienced sales executive, my goal is to help you and your leadership team GET SMARTER! Like experienced front line sales managers, you may have picked up some bad habits. You may have gotten a little distant from the day to day challenges your front line managers face. Your job is to coach and develop them to perform at the highest levels, so they in turn coach and develop their teams to perform. This book will provide you important reminders of things you should be expecting them to do and how you can help them perform.
Bottom line, whatever your current role in sales is, whatever your aspirations, the book will help you GET SMART.
There’s a second reason, equally important to GETTING SMART. For those of you who’ve followed this blog for some time, you know that giving back, paying forward, making a difference in people’s lives is an important part of what I try to achieve in this blog.
As a result, I want you to BUY to DO GOOD! Access to clean, safe water is a major problem for at least 663 million people. In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year walking to get water. Imagine freeing up their time to get and education, raise their families, start a business. Every $1 invested in clean water yields $4-12 in economic returns. Charity:Water does has an amazing impact in solving this problem. Over the past 3 years, through the support of many of you, we’ve raised over $30K.
Consequently, together, we have the opportunity to continue to DO GOOD! We have the opportunity to be extraordinary in making a difference. 100% of the profits from book sales done through Friday, May 27 will be donated to a special campaign at Charity:Water. After that, 25% of the profits on sales through August 31 will be donated to Charity:Water.
Hopefully, you now have two compelling reasons to BUY. You have the opportunity to learn, improve, and GET SMART. You have the opportunity to make a difference and DO GOOD!
If you need more information about the book, visit the website for Sales Manager Survival Guide or look at the articles in this link, you’ll find a lot of information, some free materials. I’m certain, if you aren’t already convinced, after that you will BUY!
It’s not often I do a full court blatant pitch to BUY, Thanks for your support in letting me use this occasion to do so.
Sales is tough. Probably each person reading this thinks their job is the toughest.
If you are a sales person, you’ve got to hit your numbers. You’re out there trying to find enough opportunities, you need to work those opportunities through the pipeline, getting enough to make quota.
If you are a SDR, it’s taking those leads, reaching out to people, most of whom, probably don’t want to talk to you. You have to sort through the literature collectors, tire kickers, until you find the right ones to qualify and pass on .
As the top sales executive, you have the challenge of maximizing the capabilities and capacity of the entire organization to achieve it’s goals. You have to translate the business strategy into sales strategies your team can execute.
Each of these roles, and many more have their challenges. None, by any means is easy. But choosing a career in professional sales isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a choice about the “easy job.”
Having said all of this, the toughest job in sales is that of the Front Line Sales Manager.
The Front Line Sales Manager is the person responsible for leading teams of individuals. In smaller organizations , the Front Line Sales Manager may, also, have responsibility for the entire organization.
For the most part, however, the Front Line Sales Manager is caught in the middle. They aren’t responsible for doing deals—that’s the job of the sales people. They aren’t responsible for the overall strategy and priorities of the company or the sales organization–that’s the job of top management.
The Front Line Sales Manager is responsible for the day to day execution of the sales strategy. They have to translate strategy and goals into execution by their teams.
The job of the Front Lines Sales manager is tactical execution. To succeed, they have to maximize the performance of each individual on their team. They have to make sure each person has the skills, tools, training, and support to achieve their numbers. If they don’t these managers won’t achieve theirs and the organization won’t make plan.
Often they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Expectations of top management are sometimes in conflict with the needs of the people on their teams.
Every day, they are challenged with, “What have you done for me lately?” From their people, from their managers, from their peers and others in the organization.
On top of that, there’s time. The clock is always running, the team has to meet it’s weekly, monthly quarterly, annual goals.
The manager’s job is filled with pressures around time. How to find enough time to coach? How to spend enough time with each person, in the field, with customers? How to find the time to get the resources the sales people need to do their jobs? How to respond to the incessant questions for information, status, forecasts from their management and the rest of the organization.
Then there are the problem performers. They always take time, more than the managers have, but they can’t be ignored. In fact, each person on the team needs time. Each person needs to be coached and developed to maximize their individual performances.
I could go on, but you get the point.
Where do these managers turn to for help? Where do they go to get ideas about what they should be doing, or even pragmatic advice to help them perform at the top of their own capabilities?
Certainly their own managers is one alternative. Hopefully, they have managers focused on coaching and developing them. But they’re busy too. Often they don’t have the time or take the time needed to develop Front Line Managers.
And let’s face it, we don’t want to go to our managers all the time for help and advice. After all, part of the reason we were put into the Front Line Sales Management role was our ability to figure it out. Our abilities to solve problems and get our people performing.
The Sales Manager Survival Guide is the resource to help Front Line Sales Managers deal with the day to day challenges of the job. It’s not filled with theories of an ideal sales world. It focuses on the realities–good and bad that sales managers face every day. It’s less a “how to” approach, more of “what should I be thinking about?” or “how can apply this to my role and organization.” There are no magic solutions, or techniques, just pragmatic application.
If you want to maximize your personal success, if you want to maximize the performance of your team, the Sales Manager Survival Guide will help you learn not only how to survive, but how to thrive as a Front Line Sales Leader.
I wrote Solving Our Customers’ Problems several days ago. My friend Martin Schmalenbach, of Microchip Technology, wrote a long comment about his real world experiences as a customer of sales training and sales enablement solutions. The comment provided such a vivid description of the customer perspective and his reactions to several very different approaches to earning his business.
I asked Martin’s permission to publish his story here:
We’ve just completed another sales boot camp here at Microchip – 64 Field folk from all over the world, here at our corporate HQ for 2 weeks of an experience (rather than training) – and no focus on products and brochures and so on – that comes later.
“We’ve just completed another sales boot camp here at Microchip – 64 Field folk from all over the world, here at our corporate HQ for 2 weeks of an experience (rather than training) – and no focus on products and brochures and so on – that comes later.
“The huge ‘ah-ha!’ that these folk take away is that we are truly focused on helping the customer out with solving problems and/or exploiting opportunities. It’s not enough to paper over your real intentions with nicely crafted pitches and elevator speeches etc if you are fundamentally, in your heart as well as your mind, not utterly focused on helping the client out. When that light bulb switches on, you see a real change in that sales person – gone is the trepidation about having a touch conversation with the client about pricing or the usual thing we get hit for – replaced by a strong desire, almost an impatience, to create those tough conversations with clients because THAT is where the client will get the most learning & insights about their situation and clarity on the path to take going forward – which COULD include staying on the path they are currently on. A successful conversation doesn’t have to always end up with us getting an order in the end, but it DOES have to end up with the client getting some true value from the time they spent in discussion with us.
“I get a LOT of emails from people trying to sell me sales enablement and training. I also get on average 507 emails a week (yes, I actually counted & averaged it!), many from internal colleagues, but many from people trying to tell me stuff. They have a lot of work to do to catch my attention! I’m sure for every sales person out there it is the same challenge.
“I have recently had 3 conversations with sales people from some truly excellent organizations. Two we do business with today, and another we will likely do business with in the next 6-12 months.
“What has really caught my attention is the contrast in approaches. In two cases the sales person has pointed out how other clients have really benefited in hard $ terms from adopting some of what they have to offer. In the third, the sales person there was utterly focused on helping me deal with some immediate challenges, which when addressed, will create a real large scale need for his company’s offering, and which we are already using on a limited but big scale. He wasn’t interested at the time in closing a PO, although the start of the conversation had been as a result of looking to sell us more of what we already had. Every conversation I have with him is time well spent, because it is utterly about helping me & my company get to where we need to go.
“The other 2 sales people have made good cases for why other people buy their offering. The problem is, we’re not ‘other people’. We don’t have quite the same issues and challenges, and we aren’t quite so caring about the metrics they cite. Yes, they are having a conversation with me about adding value to what we do, but their conversation plans are clearly rooted in getting me to award the PO soon, because it will soon be end of month/quarter etc. They are focused on how their offering will help me tackle my challenges. And it will, but I have other challenges to overcome before we can be ready to do anything else, with them or other potential partners. And this is what the 3rd sales person realized, I suspect instinctively. He is ALL about helping us, and me in particular, get to where I need. Now his offering is priced the same as a competitor’s offering, to the penny – not down to me saying ‘meet the price of competitor X’. But with the value he is bringing, and the authenticity behind it, I would pay him 2x!
“It’s only when I saw truly an example of a sales person utterly focused on helping me out rather than a veiled approach to get me to buy so they can make their quarter etc, that I could compare and contrast properly. I think most sales people aren’t aware of this, or don’t buy in to it, and so they are doomed to forever look, sound and be like everybody else out there. And with 507 emails a week I don’t have time to sift through their same-old-same old to see why I should even respond to them, let alone spend 30 minutes talking with them. I wonder if truly the sales person’s biggest problem is his/her own self?!”
Martin provides powerful reinforcement to the ideas that the greatest value we can create is helping our customers solve their problems.
With respect to Martin’s final question, “Is the sales person’s biggest problem his/her own self?” I think it is a combination of the mindset of each sales person and how each individual views their role in helping their customers, as well as the leadership, coaching and direction of sales management. However problem solving focused a sales person might be, if management doesn’t see the value of this approach in building strong relationships and growing business, then even the most customer focused sales person will have to do what their managers expect.
The tone, coaching, training, direction, reinforcement and personal examples set by sales leaders is critical to driving the behaviors of sales people.
Perusing my news feeds this morning, an article entitled, “Should Sales Managers Coach” caught my eye. My knee jerk reaction was , “Duugggh, isn’t the answer obvious?” However, I respect the author and decided to read the article to understand the point of view (or perhaps it was one of the provocative titles to get someone to read).
I reread the article 5 times. I think the author’s conclusion is “Yes, but……”
Upon reflection, I think perhaps the points of view addressed in the article are more indicative of the confusion we have about the sales manager’s job.
Is it a coach/teacher?
Is it a super closer/sales person?
Is it a report generator/task master to keep people focused on the numbers?
You probably can come up with a few more alternatives, and there is probably some truth to each item—but do these really get to the core of “what’s the job of the front line sales manager?”
I’ll take a stab at it.
The job of the front line sales manager is to maximize the performance of each person on the team! (Exclamation point, period, end of sentence, no if, ands, or buts.)
Implicit in this idea is developing the capabilities and capacity of each person on the team, and the organization, to achieve the goals of the organization.
How does the front line sales leader do this?
Well, coaching their people on a day to day basis is the highest leverage use of the manager’s time in helping them perform at the highest levels possible. But the problem is too many managers don’t know it’s part of their job, too many don’t know how to coach, and most think of coaching as something different from the business management aspects of the job. As a result, very little coaching gets done.
And much of what gets done, gets done poorly!
As a consequence, it’s fair to pose the question, “Should Sales Managers Coach?” But the answer to this has to be a resounding, YES!
Outsourcing it, at least for the long term, is wrong. It’s management forsaking a key responsibility. Yes, to help managers develop coaching skills, engaging outside resources to help managers learn how to coach effectively is powerful, but outsourcing as a permanent solution is wrong.
Top executives have to set coaching as a key performance expectation of managers, they must reinforce this by coaching managers who report to them. If they don’t set the example, it simply won’t get done.
There are more aspects to the sales manager’s job. Finding, hiring, onboarding the right talent is critical, managing performance and problem performers, business management, providing tools, systems, processes, training are all critical aspects of the manager’s job. Getting things done for their people, protecting and promoting their people are critical as well.
Making the numbers is critical–but the only way the manager makes the numbers is my making sure each person on the team is performing and hits their goals.
But all of this is in support of the sales manager’s basic job: Maximizing the performance of each person on the team.
About the only thing that isn’t part of the manager’s job is Super Closer/Sales Person. If that’s what a manager wants to do, then the manager should be a sales person. Closing business as effectively and efficiently as possible is the job of a sales person. Providing the sales person the capabilities, tools, etc. is the job of the sales manager.
There is a lot of confusion about sales management, and perhaps that’s a reason the majority of sales people and organizations fail to achieve their goals.
But look at top performing organizations, there is absolute clarity about the job of sales managers.
Afterword: This is a crucial topic. It’s one I wrestle with in great detail in the Sales Manager Survival Guide. The book is being launched through Amazon on May 24. Mike Weinberg, author of Sales Management Simplified, has said this about the book, “This is THE go-to resource for sales managers!”