An Interview With Bill Lee


 1. The title of your book, 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot, makes me want to look inside. How did you come up with the title?

I began my speaking and consulting practice in 1987, and since that time, I have conducted over 250 corporate consulting assignments. In doing this work, I kept observing very similar mistakes among the owners and managers I interacted with, so I took the top 30 mistakes I observed and used them to make up the content of this book.

2. Of the 30 top mistakes you observed what would you say are the top two?

There is no doubt in my mind that the number one mistake is failure to hold employees accountable for measurable results. I frequently found that the managers I interviewed evaluated their people based on how hard they worked or how supportive they were.

At the end of the day, it’s what a salesperson or manager accomplishes that is critical and managers who keep their eye on these measurable accomplishments are the ones who are most likely to achieve their overall corporate goals and objectives.

 3. Interesting. What would be number two?

I believe number two is failure to invest in training for their employees. It has been my experience that managers, salespeople and other employees in a business are often guilty of breathing their own exhaust day in and day out.

Managers who expose their people to quality training that gains them access to fresh new ideas and techniques almost always build more productive teams.

4. Could you answer the same question, but specifically as it pertains to sales managers?

For sales managers, I believe it would be #30, Hiring too Quickly and Firing too Slowly. While first impressions are important, a first impression is certainly not the best reason to make a hiring decision.

Many sales managers are so impatient that they rush the hiring process. I encourage sales managers to slow down the hiring process, take advantage of psychological testing products to gain insight into the raw talent of their candidates and ask each candidate an identical series of open-ended interview questions designed specifically for the job they are attempting to fill.

Then when they have given up on a salesperson they already have on board, go ahead and cut their loses rather than keep giving a salesperson chance after chance to turn his or her territory around. At some point it’s necessary to change horses.

5. Do you believe the most effective managers have common characteristics?

I’d say yes. The most effective managers I work with are close with their people, but they have the ability to keep their emotions out of their management decisions. As a rule, they have the ability to turn up the heat on a talented, but unmotivated employee without becoming angry or overbearing. They care enough about their people to keep the pressure on as they coach them to higher levels of success. And their people know they are not pushovers; they possess a management style that commands respect.

6. What are the common characteristics you observe among sales managers?

I believe the most effective sales managers were effective salespeople, but not necessarily sales superstars. They understand what it’s like to be challenged to achieve a quota or to be paid on performance, but most importantly, they enjoy coaching and nurturing marginal performers as much if not more so than they do closing a sale themselves.

Their joy comes from seeing their people grow and overcome the obstacles to success.

7. How do you help managers do a more effective job of achieving their goals and objectives?

When managers are falling short of their goals and objectives, I try to convince them to try a different approach since the approach they are currently employing has proven to be ineffective.

My biggest challenge is persuading managers to change their management style. I realize that change is can sometimes be difficult, so especially if the manager is a big fan of a particular sport, I have found it effective to use analogies from that sport.

All professional athletes have a coach. Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Albert Pujols have coaches whose job it is to call their attention to mistakes they are making that are preventing these great athletes from achieving their full potential.

So if I can persuade a manager to recognize a bad habit, eliminate it and substitute a more effective approach, the improvement in the results they are able to achieve will get make it easier for them to make future changes when that’s what the situation calls for.

About Bill Lee:

Bill Lee is a business expert. Starting out in 1965 as a field sales representative and later promoted to sales manager with New York City based GAF Corporation, Bill soon became a part-owner of one of the fastest growing start-up companies in the US ? Builder Marts of America, Inc. (BMA)

In just 20 years, Bill and his partners grew BMA from a startup to sales of $640 million. Bill served as a corporate officer at BMA with general management responsibility for the company?s largest division.

Today, Bill is a sought-after seminar leader and business consultant who works extensively throughout the US and Canada.

He is author of Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line, now in its third printing.

His most recent book is 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot.

Thousands of owners, managers and salespeople read Bill’s award winning ezines and magazine articles on sales and gross margin improvement and best management practices.

Bill is currently president of Lee Resources, Inc., a Greenville, SC – based consulting, training and publishing organization.

And Bill how can people contact you?

Call Bill at 800-277-7888.

or you can visit his website here: 

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