The Truth about High Performance Sales Management: It’s Not Just a Numbers Game

By: The Brooks Group

Sales managers are missing opportunities to get results from their sales teams

Sales managers need to be investing significant time in the field, coaching and mentoring their salespeople, not just studying (or creating) Excel spreadsheets.  Unfortunately, many corporate executives have inadvertently turned sales management into a numbers game.  Almost every day, sales managers tell us they have far too much to do, and they believe they’re wasting time on daily tasks that have very little to do with the real job of managing their salespeople.

In most organizations, sales managers face two big (but related) challenges:

1.Sales reps meeting quotas consistently
2.Sales rep productivity (or doing the right daily activities)
There’s a misconception that sales managers can rely on call reports, sales results, or other historical data – end-process measures – to manage their salespeople effectively.  As a result, time in the field suffers.  To be an effective sales coach, you have to rely on in-process measurement, working with your salespeople out in the field, not from behind a desk.  And to get truly impressive results, you must ensure your salespeople are applying best practices on real sales calls and improving their selling abilities with real clients.
Sales management is fundamentally a teaching and coaching job.

There’s more to it, though.  High-performing sales organizations don’t just encourage their sales managers to get out from behind their desks, they have a sales system that allows coaching to occur naturally in the field.  If you have a linked, sequential selling system to follow, you can work with your salespeople to establish performance standards and specific objectives for each step of the sales process.

That way, you have in-process measures that help you determine where, specifically, in each sale your salespeople are winning or losing the deal.  And you have “coachable moments” throughout the sales process, as it unfolds, to guarantee that your salespeople’s classroom training yields significant and consistent positive results (end-process measures).

  • The best sales managers are able to coach their salespeople to use a formal selling system.

When our clients want to make sales training really “stick,” they require not only sales training and coaching for their salespeople, but alsoclassroom training and a multi-week coaching program for their sales managers.  Our clients who follow through with classroom training plus coaching for their sales managers (in addition to training their salespeople) consistently find that their companies see an increase in sales volume and margin.  This success is a direct result of the sales managers’ improved abilities to effectively and efficiently coach their teams in the field.

In contrast, when sales management training is not part of a sales improvement initiative, sales teams often continue to struggle to get results even when sales training has been completed.   Why?  The salespeople aren’t being coached in real time by well-trained managers on a system for sales, so their close rates don’t improve at all.  A lack of in-process measurement and in-the-field coaching results in an end-process lack of sales!

The best sales organizations give sales managers the training, resources, and latitude to work closely with their salespeople in the field.  They implement a logical, systematic sales process within which coaching can occur.  And the most effective sales managers realize that holding their salespeople accountable for in-process activities related to a standardized selling system is far easier and more effective than attempting to coach their sales team after the quarter’s sales data are in.