Making Sales Management Make Sense


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Sales Management seems to be a hot topic these days. Our blog at Successful Sales Management is attracting a lot of interest from people wanting to understand more about it. Or at least, somebody else’s thoughts on the subject.

Readers registering for our email newsletter are asked what their role is in business. The one quoted most often is, unsurprisingly, sales manager, but its closely followed by sales executive, and business owner.

The business owner category is interesting. Invariably these are hard working entrepreneurs building a business. They’ll be specialists in what their business does – business services, manufacturing, real estate, financial services – but almost certainly not generic sales and sales management. They’ll need an effective sales operation, but be having difficulty with typical sales speak, and sales culture.

The world of punters, cold calls, sales funnels, activity rates, sales forecasting, heavy hitting closers, and 800lb gorillas, doesn’t make sense to people who do a proper job for a living. Those are the basic folklore of sales people. Concepts which exclude normal Joes from the conversation, and hide the stuff nobody wants to admit.

Typical sales, and sales management, philosophies, processes and tools don’t work too well anymore.

So much is obvious to business owners. They’re the ones struggling to keep the company afloat, while the sales guys seem intent on spending all the money chasing deals which never come in.

Surely, it can’t be that difficult. Selling is just business, after all. Why can’t sales managers find ways to make things work better, the way design, and production, and distribution, and accounting managers do?

That’s why business owners are out there looking for insight. They’re looking for ways to get sales doing a better job.

It’s a subject close to our heart, and one we’ve written about, a lot, with articles like these:

How Sales Strategy Could Fix the Economy

Of course the problem right now is the economy. Selling, even with a great strategy, is tough. Both sides of the Atlantic, and even in Asia, the developed economies are stuck. Maybe applying our sales strategy logic can help find a way of unsticking them?

Sales Management for the 21st Century

Whereas markets used to be local, and products expensive, and hard to get hold of, they are now global, and awash with competition. Customers used to be desperate to get hold of the new manufactured goods. They’d happily waited for delivery, tolerated products which didn’t really do what it said on the tin. They suffered poor customer service in silence, and paid outrageous prices for it.

Management’s Role in Everything

Like virtually everything we know about how business works, the concept of management evolved during the Industrial Revolution as the owner’s command and control structure. The boss told the manager, and the manager told the supervisor, and the supervisor told the guy making the machine go up and down. That gave the manager lots of status, and not much responsibility.

Sales Managers Need to Focus More on Management and Less On Sales

That isn’t going to happen until sales managers spend less time selling, and more time managing – more time managing not only sales operations but also support services like marketing and customer service, and the accountants, and perhaps most importantly the bosses.

Sales Management Needs To Be More About Planning And Less About Activity

Far better to spend some time upfront, figuring out what ABCD Inc will buy, why they’ll buy it, how they’ll buy it and when they’ll buy it. Then we’ll know if there’s a realistic chance of some business, what we’ll need in our proposition, how we’ll resource the sale, and when to walk away if the deal isn’t going to happen.

Is Failing to Plan a Sale Planning to Fail

The sales manager with a plan is much better placed to help the team.Review meetings are targeted on what needs to be done, and weighted probability forecasts are more accurate when milestones show how the sale is progressing.

Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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