A little over a week ago, I wrote Sales Management, It’s About Inspecting The Process, Not Transactions. In talking to many people who contacted me about the article, we ended up talking about the confict sales managers face in doing their jobs. Yes, we are supposed to inspect the process, but at the same time, we need to focus on deals and specifics. Well, that’s life, sales management is about managing the contradictions.
The only way we will be successful in managing the organization is to focus on inspecting the process, coaching and developing your people, and managing the overall business flow. We do that by working deals. Closely inspecting deals, helping the sales person develop stronger strategies, making sure we have strategies that win and are applying the resources the sales person needs, is a critical part of the sales manager’s job. This is also a great opportunity to coach and develop the sales person.
Sales managers must also spend a lot of time calling on customers. These are opportunities to move deals forward, they’re also great opportunities to get a better understanding of what’s happening with customers. Finally, the windshield time with the sales person, both before and after the call, is a great opportunity to coach and to get a real feeling for what’s going on.
Sales managers are expected to manage the business. Lot’s of time spent in forecasting and making sure their teams will deliver the business that has been committed. Lot’s of time looking at gaps in meeting the plans and meeting to figure out how to close the gap. Pragmatically, sometimes it’s about hammering (gently) on the team to get the numbers. Sometimes it is about transactions—what’s going to close, how can we accelerate it?
So a sales manager has to dive into the deals helping build strong strategies and making sure we win. Sales managers should be spending a lot of time in the field, with customers. But understanding the role is critical. It’s not the sales manager’s job to manage the deals, that belongs to the sales person. Ultimately, they are responsible for managing A sales manager but it’s not her job to manage the deals. That’s the responsibility of the sales person.
Sales managers don’t have the time to be engaged in every deal–if they do, then it’s a problem. They are selectively involved in deals–but focused on inspecting the process. The moment sales managers take the responsibility for managing the transaction, it’s a loss. Managing the transaction takes it out of the sales person’s hands. They are no longer responsible for their territory, the sales manager is. No sales manager can manage the collective territories for their people — but when they manage they dive into and manage the transactions, that’s ultimately what happens. It’s a loss–for the organization, for the sales people and their development, and for the sales manager — they never survive.