First-Line Sales Managers: Make it or Break it

Rick Page (Author of, Hope is Not a Strategy and Founder of The Complex Sale) and I conducted a Sales Management Academy Workshop this week with a group of 30 managers from one of my clients, and it’s always striking to spend time with first-line sales managers.  Consistently, when you challenge their paradigms about how to effectively manage sales people in today’s environment, you see the light bulb(s) go on in their heads about what they should be doing but often don’t:

  • That hiring the right talent and taking the recruitment process seriously should likely be their #1 priority.  The reason:  the cost of a bad hiring decision is easily more than $1 Million (when you consider lost sales in the territory, the cost of re-hire, the ramp up time for the new person, etc.)
  • That doing a poor job of “performance management” with your “C” sales people is damaging in countless ways – not the least of which is the credibility you lose with the balance of your sales team because you allow mediocrity (or worse yet – poor performance) to exist within the team
  • The importance of managing your time effectively.  We usually find that sales managers don’t have a clear idea of the optimum way to allocate their time (between sales calls with reps, deal coaching, forecasting, etc.) and therefore don’t proactively plan their calendar to fit the optimum approach (reading a book like Covey’s, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People will help anyone in this regard)

I’d contend that first-line sales managers are the key success factor in achieving sales results.  Great sales managers will hire the stars, they’ll fire the dogs, and they’ll manage the team in such a way that the talent is well-developed and the results are attained – consistently!

Tell me what you think!

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