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Managing Sales People — Busy Or Effective?

Managing Sales People -- Busy or Effective?Managing sales people -- busy or effective? I work with many presidents, and vice presidents, and they tell me one thing consistently:

They don't work day-to-day with their front line salespeople. They're not familiar with the precise problems that their salespeople experience.

They are focused on the strategic, not the tactical. The numbers, not the behaviors, of managing sales people.

But over and over, these top level executives tell me, "There's a disconnect. Somewhere, the plan isn't being followed. The plan says to do one thing, and they're doing something else."

Many companies don't have action plans for their salespeople. Some do, but there's a clear disconnect between what was planned and what the actual activities are in managing sales people and execution.

The Challenge In Managing Sales People that Keeps Them Busy Instead of Effective

When I look closer on behalf of the client, I typically find that the front line salesperson has become overcome by 'busy' work. This means they have pushed 'effective' work aside. They don't really know how to be effective at selling.

While actions like immediately getting information for a customer may seem effective, choices like this fill up the salesperson's day. Is customer service important? Of course. However, we can train our customers that they will get a quick turnaround on their requests without sacrificing effective activities such as prospecting that bring in new business.

If the salesperson is not extremely alert, their schedule will be overrun by 'busy' work. And their medium term performance will suffer, because if we're not filling the pipeline we're slowly dying.

A salesperson's schedule is the most important tool available to control their results.

How closely do your salespeople follow their action plan/schedule? Do they even have a schedule?

If you are a salesperson, what's happening to your day? Are tasks you know are important--but seemingly not urgent--getting shoved aside in favor of 'busy' work? Remember that we all have only 24 hours in a day. If you lose that time you had blocked out for effective prospecting work, you can't get it back. The time simply isn't there at the end of the month. Protect your schedule and your "golden hours" at all costs, and make sure the work you're doing is effective, not merely keeping you busy.

How do you know?

Ask yourself: "If I didn't do this right now, could I recover by the end of the month?"

The answer will frequently surprise you.

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Jason Kanigan

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