Wandering Consultant®

Believing that experience is the best teacher, the Wandering Consultant shares real-life experiences, stories, and situations.  The topics are varied and delivered with an intention of passing along the guidance and wisdom gathered from professionals that I've met along the way.

Comments are always welcome as are similar experiences and lessons that you've picked up.  Happy wandering....

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A newly-promoted sales manager seemed to be struggling in his new role.  He’d been a very productive sales rep but the combination of some life changes and an opening in management seemed like a perfect combination for him and his company.

After settling in for a few weeks, he already felt like he’d hit a wall. 

Like many organizations, his company didn’t really have “sales management training” professional development.  After some basic operational management orientation, he was pretty much left to fend for himself in figuring out how to be a sales manager.  

After some discussions and investigation, his real frustration was summarized in one sentence:  “What should I do when I come into the office every day?”  He went on, “When I was a sales rep, I knew what I had to do every day.  I made calls, called customers for referrals, created proposals, made presentations, and closed deals.  I called my sales manager when I needed her but now that I’m the sales manager, I don’t know what I should do every single day.”

After a discussion that included what he thought he should be doing, what he thought his old sales manager did, what he WISHED his old sales manager had done, we came up with seven daily activities he could do as a sales manager.  They include:

  • Check in with your sales team – Whether you’re all in the same office or geographically disbursed, be sure to check in with your team every day.  Let them know that they are valued and that they have a champion in their corner every single day.
  • Run interference for your sales reps – Does the executive team want to meet with the sales reps?  Does the marketing team want the sales reps to fill out surveys?  Every task that takes your reps away from selling is lost productivity and lost commissions to them.  Part of your job is to make sure that anything that takes your reps away from selling has a really good reason to the company and to your team.
  • Ride-alongs – Going out with your sales reps has many benefits. It lets them know that you know what it’s like to be in the field. It gives you an opportunity to coach them one-on-one. It lets you learn from them and identify new sales techniques/approaches that could benefit other sales reps.  It keeps you in touch with your company’s market so you can better serve your sales reps.
  • Review commissions – Head off any sales rep anxiety by previewing each rep’s commissions looking for issues before the commissions are sent out. If there are issues, take care of them before they get to the sales rep.
  • Competitive information – Your market is always changing and your reps need to keep up with it.  Research updates and put it in easily-digestible format for your reps so that they can easily incorporate it into their daily activities
  • Update and/or create sales tools – marketing materials, research papers, and case studies are just some examples of materials to help your sales reps
  • Analyze sales pipeline and other reports and reconcile to the sales forecast – The entire organization depends on accurate and timely sales information. Updating the pipeline and reconciling to the sales forecast gives the rest of the organization vital information with which they can make decisions.

This list might not be the perfect list for every sales manager in every industry.  But all of a sales manager’s daily activities should help support their primary mission:  doing whatever it takes to make their team sales rock stars.

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