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Sales Managers, Use It Or Lose It.

by David Brock on April 22nd, 2009
I work with sales executives and professionals everyday. Many of the organizations have invested millions of dollars/euro/yuan/yen in tools (CRM, Sales 2.0) and training. Yet the results aren’t there. The expected improvements in productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness just aren’t there. What’s wrong, why aren’t organizations getting the results? What does it take to get real performance improvement.

At the risk of biting the hands that feed me, the problem is not with the vendors, it’s even not with the sales people themselves. The problem rests with sales management.

Let me give an example. Just a couple of days ago, I met with several sales leaders for a Fortune 100 company. Over the years, they had invested millions of dollars in several sales training programs and a coaching program. I knew these programs well, they are truly outstanding programs (second only to those we offer—-sorry, I had to throw that in). Yet in meeting with these leaders, they said the sales people weren’t performing, they weren’t spending enough time planning or in front of customers, they weren’t getting the expected results from what they had done.

I expressed my surprise. I asked them: “What happens when you review opportunity, account, or territory plans with your people? What are you seeing on the templates your training company provides?” Their response, “We don’t look at those, we trained the people and hope they use them, but we don’t use them in our reviews.”

I went on and asked, “What about your coaching? That program has some guides and templates, aren’t those working for you? Are you using the review process they recommend?” I got the response I expected, but hoped not to hear, “Those are too time consuming, we squeeze coaching in when we can, but the business is too hectic. The program gave us some good concepts to think about when we do talk to our people.”

These executives were seeking my recommendations about how to improve performance—and as part of that they wanted a training program and some tools that would fix the performance issues.

As much as I wanted to propose a program to them, I had to tell them, “You don’t have a training problem. No training program I could recommend will address the issues that you raise. The ‘fix’ to this problem is easy—it’s you. You need to change your behavior, you need to change how you conduct reviews, you need to start leveraging the tools you have invested in, and expect the sales people use them as well. Use what you have or lose it!”

This isn’t unique to this company, I see it in too many organizations. If management isn’t using the tools that have been introduced to the sales people—tools intended to improve productivity and results, why should we expect our people to use them.

Management and executives have the obligation to use and reinforce the tools, training and processes put in place to improve performance. If you don’t use them, your people will never use them. It’s not their problem, it’s management’s problem. If you don’t integrate the tools, processes, training into the fabric of your business; if you don’t make it a part of your daily management process, you are wasting your money and your people’s time. You will not get the results you expect.

I feel bad about this opportunity, I hate turning away business. But they already had solutions in place, they just weren’t using them. The ‘fix’ didn’t require time or investment, it just required a change in management behavior.

Tomorrow, I will give another example of how easy it is for management to set a tone to drive major changes in results and to get the most out of your investments in tools, training, and processes.

From → Leadership

  1. Steven Rosen permalink

    Hi Dave,

    I agree with your solutions. The challenges is that sales managers are not great coaches nor is senior sales management role modeling coaching behavior. I spend a majority of my time working with senior and front line managers to coach them how to coach.

    As much as they may by off that this is a good idea they need a turn key way of executing a coaching culture.

    Steven Rosen

  2. Dave Brock's Blog permalink

    Steven: Thanks for your comments, I agree, coaching sales execs and managers to be better at coaching will deliver great benefits for the organization.

    I appreciate you takin gt ehtime to comment. They are always right on the mark.

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