How Sales Management Can Hurt Sales

There’s a sales management philosophy in too many companies that is actually working against sales growth. And the salespeople know it. The philosophy goes like this:

  • Walk in 40 doors a day.
  • Make 40 calls a day.
  • Hand your business card to everyone.
  • Gather as many business cards as you can.
  • Sell, sell, sell.

While this is a lot of activity and can look good on a sales report, it isn’t usually productive. And it shifts the goal from getting business to participating in a specific behavior.

This usually happens because the owner or sales manager found great success using these methods. That’s great for them! But it doesn’t mean everyone is going to be successful doing it that way.

sIn addition, today’s business environment doesn’t really offer a welcoming landscape for this kind of behavior. The consumers are very well educated and are really looking for someone they trust. The salesperson is better off working on relationship building rather than tallying the number of doors knocked.

Many companies with this philosophy have a lot of turnover in the sales department. And do you know why? Because people join the company with the best of intentions and in many cases a great method for gaining sales. When they discover that they can’t implement their method, but rather have to engage in behavior that doesn’t work for them, they don’t hit their sales goals. So, they leave — either voluntarily or by request.

Either way, it’s not good for the company. The cost alone of bringing on a new employee is significant. Think about it. You’ve got to run ads, sift through resumes, interview, hire, onboard, train, and then exit. Go ahead and put dollar values on each of those items, then add them up. Now include the lack of sales into the cost. All the business you didn’t do! It’s an expensive proposition.

Building Confidence

Another key concern is the image that develops of the company in the community. Think about things from the prospect or client’s point of view. If, every time they turn around there’s a new salesperson introducing themselves, you’re telegraphing instability within your company. Is that really the message you are trying to send? Customers want confidence that the salesperson they’ve grown to trust will be there for more than a hot minute. If they keep seeing new salespeople, their trust goes down. That’s never good.

So, I ask you, which is more important?

  1. Engaging in a specific activity
  2. Gaining new clients

I’d say No. 2. And if that really is more important, then it doesn’t matter how it is done — as long as it is moral, legal, and ethical.

Sales managers would be better off sharing the vision and the goals of the company with their sales staff while leaving the sales strategy to each salesperson. Empower the sales team to develop their own process and then monitor their results. Give them the resources they need to be successful. Be there for them when they need advice, or training. And communicate with them on a regular basis about their results. As long as the results are there, the process shouldn’t matter.

Think about why you hire someone. Is it because you believe they have the skills and personality necessary to succeed at sales? Probably. And if so, don’t you owe it to them to trust them to do the job? Whenever we tell someone how to do something, we’re really saying that we don’t trust them to do it right. There’s a confidence killer!

It’s like hiring someone for their great attitude and then squashing that attitude. Makes no sense. Respecting the sales staff means talking with them, not at them. It means listening to what they have to say, respecting their ability, and expecting them to deliver. Period. The best way to disrespect the sales staff is to tell them to do things your way. Then you are telling them that you don’t trust them to do it right, or well, or successfully. Believe me when I tell you, you won’t get what you are wanting if you engage in this sort of “management.” Instead, lead your team. Help them be the best they can be.

After all, sales is about relationships, not dialing for dollars. Let your salespeople network and develop relationships with referral partners, prospects, and clients. Their time will be better spent, the results will be there, and everyone will be happier. If one of the salespeople decides to make 40 calls a day, great! That is their preferred method. It should be more important to make sure your salespeople have a strategy that makes sense to them than to have a strategy that only makes sense to the sales manager.

About Diane Helbig

Diane Helbig is an international business and leadership change agent, author, award-winning speaker, radio show host and web TV channel host. As president of Seize This Day (http://www.seizethisday.co) based in Cleveland, she helps businesses and organizations operate more constructively and profitably. She can be reached via email at diane@seizethisday.co.

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