Mercuri Systems recently released a new white paper on Sales Efficiency in which they ask, “Are your company’s sales leaders/managers soldiers or generals?” Good question.
A phenomenon too often played out is sales managers becoming super sales jocks while the growth and potential of sales reps under these individuals is stifled. Reminiscent of the label during the recent Great Recession that certain banks were “too big to fail,” the justification of a manager injecting him or herself into a deal is that a given opportunity is “too big to risk losing.”
At this point it is a No Win situation. If the manager does intercede and the deal is won, the rep’s growth is put off to another day; a pattern that is likely to repeat such that the rep never really does develop the skill and competence to “land a big one.” If the manager stands back, leaves the rep alone and the deal is lost, nothing good results.
Clearly the answer is to get involved much earlier and more frequently in lower risk situations with specific focus and intention.
Mercuri gives examples:
- Quantity of activity to achieve a base level for each key sales action.
- Direction for focused activity in the right sectors, products, etc.
- Quality of execution and measurable standards of excellence and consistency.
At one of our recent Sales Eagle Summits, Jay Vanderbree, Senior Vice President, Home Entertainment Sales and Marketing at LG Electronics, offered a slightly different perspective to the question Mercuri is asking. Jay said,
“The goal of sales leaders is to create more leaders, not followers!”
Jay went on to say this goal was regardless of “role or rank” in the sales leadership hierarchy.
The data support the fact that consistent, ongoing coaching is not just a nice idea. The table below from our 2013 Sales Management Optimization report shows the powerful results that accrue to companies that subscribe to this philosophy.
The numbers above are dramatically better as is the attitude of reps when their managers are committed to seeing their people grow. And to quote a famous management maxim:
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” –Lao Tzu
Check out the Mercuri white paper. Good reading and chance to check out your own organization’s leadership score.