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The Sales Manager's Product

Monday, February 10, 2014
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Everyone who works produces something—a widget, a service, tasks for others to complete—something. As a sales manager, what do you produce? 

When asked that question, most respond by saying they have never contemplated it before. Consider this: Your product as a sales manager is the job performance of your sales team. You are a performance maker. 

As a performance maker, the most important question you need to ask in your role is “What must I do to create the kind of performance I need from my sales team to get the business outcomes we want?” Great sales managers, like great leaders, always begin with the end in mind and ask such questions as:

  • What business outcomes do I want?
  • What kind of performance do I need from my sales team to achieve these outcomes?
  • What must I do to create, drive, and sustain performance from my team to get these outcomes? 

As you’ve likely noticed, sales team performance is key to achieving outcomes.  There are two things that both you and your salespeople should have a clear understanding about: 1) What you expect of them, and 2) How they are performing.  
Here’s a simple formula to explain job performance equation:

Expected Performance - Actual Performance = Performance Discrepancy 

Put another way, you need to know what should be happening, what is happening, and any difference between these two.  Your role as a performance maker is to:

  • determine the expected performance
  • measure the actual performance
  • identify any discrepancies in the performance Identify the cause(s) of any discrepancies
  • implement appropriate solutions to eliminate performance discrepancies. 

Determining expected performance 

The place to start in creating performance is identifying what expected performance should look like. Think beyond just hitting the sales goal. While it’s important to think of the end, it’s equally important to consider the best means to the end. 

Very few sales managers can articulate the specific activities that their salespeople should be performing in order to sell more or make their targets. In other words, sales managers have not carefully thought through the means to their end. This is where the concept of a job inventory is especially helpful. A job inventory is simply a list of the tasks that a sales employee performs. 

Measuring performance 

Once you know what your salespeople are supposed to be doing (expected performance), the next thing you need to do is determine if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing (actual performance). Most successful sales managers do this by observing the performance of their employees during ride-alongs. 

While observation is a great method, employees typically perform at their best when their boss is watching.  Other ways to measure performance include benchmarking against top organizations or measuring against top performers in your own organization.  

Identifying discrepancies 

If there is a discrepancy, then as the sales manager you must identify which specific required task(s) are not being performed properly then, find the cause of the discrepancy. Poor job performance always has a reason. 

Seven things must be in place in the work environment for employees to perform as they are required. If one or more of these factors is missing or deficient, there will be a gap in performance. 

Seven factors of job performance

  1. Capacity:  This refers to physical capacity, emotional capacity, interpersonal capacity, analytical capacity, and so on. Capacity means inherent ability or talent.
  2. Conditions: Some conditions might include time, tools, information, equipment, budget, and so on. If the required conditions or environment are lacking, so is performance.
  3. Motivation: Incentives are a strong motivating factor for most sales employees and sometimes high performers are not incentivized in the right way.
  4. Knowledge and Skill: A job performance gap caused by a lack of knowledge and skill typically requires training is an appropriate solution.
  5. Standards: The most common cause of a performance discrepancy is that employees do not understand what required performance looks like. Many are unclear on is on the specific tasks they should be performing in order to hit their numbers.
  6. Measurement: A successful sales manager goes beyond just measuring the numbers. They pay attention to all the tasks related to making the sale, and put measurements that matter behind them.
  7. Feedback: Successful sales managers give regular, detailed, and systematic feedback to while ineffective managers have a common method of operating when it comes to giving feedback: “Assume you’re doing just fine unless I tell you otherwise.” Feedback serves two purposes. It maintains good performance, and it modifies poor performance. 

Implementing solutions 

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Based on the discrepancy and its cause(s), propose a solution that works well with cause of the performance problem. Partner with your sales team employee to fill the gaps. Remember that as a performance-maker, your product is your team’s performance. I hope you will never look at your job quite the same way again. 

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 This post is based on content explored in the new ASTD Press release,  The Art of Modern Sales Management, which covers everything you need to know to be a top sales manager! 

Sales management has changed dramatically in the past decade. With increasing globalization and many companies adding more virtual workers, the task of managing these diverse sales teams has become increasingly complicated. In a connected and evolving world it is hard to offer a definitive guide, but this book strives to sketch out a blueprint for managing performance in a changing sales landscape. 

Each chapter is written by a sales professional and thought leader, many with experience as both a salesperson and as a sales manager. Learn from their experience and utilize the action plans at the end of each chapter to grow into a better leader for your team, whether they are down the hall or across the world.

 

111321_150.jpg

This post is based on content explored in the new ASTD Press release, The Art of Modern Sales Managementwhich covers everything you need to know to be a top sales manager! 

Sales management has changed dramatically in the past decade. With increasing globalization and many companies adding more virtual workers, the task of managing these diverse sales teams has become increasingly complicated. In a connected and evolving world it is hard to offer a definitive guide, but this book strives to sketch out a blueprint for managing performance in a changing sales landscape.

Each chapter is written by a sales professional and thought leader, many with experience as both a salesperson and as a sales manager. Learn from their experience and utilize the action plans at the end of each chapter to grow into a better leader for your team, whether they are down the hall or across the world.

 

 

About the Author
In his role as corporate director of learning at Emerson Electric, Terrence shapes and supports the performance of current and emerging leaders across the world. He supports the leadership development of 67 business units under two main business segments with an employee base of 107,000. He leads a team of talented, passionate, and high-performing learning and development professionals focused on the instructional aspects of leadership development, while also supporting the broader talent management initiatives. Over the last 19 years, he has trained and equipped more than 32,000 people on five continents. His training and business skills help drive major corporate initiatives in areas such as outcomes-based training, succession planning, leadership development, and learning transfer.
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