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


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English: A business ideally is continually see...
English: A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all make the same mistake. As sales managers we’re supposed to manage, but it’s always easier to do the selling instead. When we’re short on the number, or that particularly important deal isn’t going as well as we’d hoped, or when that new rep needs some help, we step in and take over the selling.

Probably because our own expertise got us the job in the first place. Probably because what little training we received focused on sales techniques. Probably because we never had a formal business education. The way we can make the biggest difference is by turbo charging the sales effort, doing it ourselves. So that’s what we do.

Back in the days when the Industrial Revolution saw factories mass producing things people wanted to buy, business owners hired the first sales people to knock on doors, pitch their wares, and ask for orders. The most productive sales people were promoted to managers, and they coached the new guys in ways which had worked for them. Success was simply a question of knocking on more doors, making better presentations, overcoming objections, and being more persuasive.

That’s how the role of sales manager came into existence. In most cases it hasn’t changed much since.

But the rest of the world has changed a lot. The Information Revolution changed everything, for ever.

Manufactured goods had been in short supply. Prices were high and quality and service were low. Henry Ford got away with telling customers ‘You can have any colour you want, as long as its black.’

But it isn’t like that anymore.

As Tomas Friedman explained the world became flat. Anybody could sell anything anywhere, and they did. Competition in almost any market exploded. Prices were driven down, and customer choice, quality and service improved. The old ways somehow didn’t work so well anymore.

Prospects knew more about products than the sales people. They found out about alternatives and customer experience from the Internet. They wanted added value and lower prices, and got both, from new players or from old players who adopted the new rules of business.

From out of nowhere the simple business of selling changed. Now customers were in charge. And selling needs to change, responding to the new reality.

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.

The father of management thinking Henri Fayol, as far back as 1916, explained the role of management is (1) planning; (2) organizing; (3) leading; and (4) controlling. He could just as easily have said ‘find out where what you’re doing isn’t working, and then find ways of doing it so it does’.

That’s what Reengineering Sales Management is all about – strategy, organisation, operations. Its about value proposition, sales model, sales process.

And ultimately, its about managing your management – getting the business to do a better job of selling what the customer is buying, as opposed to getting the customer to buy what the business is selling.

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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