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Let Me be Brutally Honest … Your Sales Manager is Your Key to Success or Failure

I keep up with blogs and postings from sales training vendors and read about their experiences with clients who, they complain, expect measurable results from sales training programs but aren't willing to "invest enough money to do it right." That really gets under my skin because it is the sales training vendors' fault and not their clients fault — PERIOD. Essentially, the sales training vendor is saying "I'm only doing x amount of work for the amount you’re willing to pay me." That's not a sales training vendor; that's a sales vendor who is more interested in their own revenue than fulfilling their clients’ expectations for success. The irony is these so-called ’sales training vendors‘ preach and teach that their selling system will help their clients’ sales staff increase their sales. However, If the budget isn't ‘enough’ they will often cut portions of the system (usually reinforcement) and only do as much as they feel the budget allows. It's as if they’re selling you a brand new Airbus 767, but you negotiate a lower price, so they rig it so it won't go over 160 miles per hour. You still get the brand-new Airbus, but it won't go fast enough to take off.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me give you the formula for any successful sales force:

1- A Superstar sales manager
2- Recruiting and selecting top talent
3- A consistent, easy-to-follow sales process
4- Coaching to expectations
5- Accountability

If you don't have #1, but do have 2-5 the result will be failure (I hope the reason is obvious). If you do have #1 without 2-5 you have a chance for success because your sales manager will implement their own process for 2-5. Top performing companies begin with a top performing sales manager and then train them on a management process that includes 2-5.

Take a look at your challenges in this difficult economy, but focus on your sales management rather than your sales team and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does he or she spend time in the field setting the example and coaching their team?
  2. Does he or she set clear expectations to the team that are activity driven, and not just focused on ’making quota’?
  3. Does he or she have accountabilities in place (not 'call reports') to measure performance?
  4. Are there daily/weekly/monthly rewards and sanctions in place?

If your sales manager is not doing these things, then it's not the economy that should be your concern.