Remember, there is a distinction between managing someone differently and having a minimum set of standards for all reps. Exceptional sales reps do not want to be micromanaged. The great reps want the sales manager to drive them to do things beyond their comfort zone.
As a sales rep, I wanted to be pushed beyond my limits by my manager. Managers who use daily activity/productivity reports should make sure the reports receive feedback. Otherwise the summaries are just busywork. Make them a part of the daily sales routine. I believe that monitoring the rep's schedule is another way of showing respect and dignity.
Is it acceptable to have minimum standards of performance? Yes. I think "minimum" is the key word. Again, challenging and motivating are the main objectives as opposed to giving the reps goals they cannot achieve. The operative phrase at the end of the day is "what did they sell"? Setting standards takes away the "path of least resistance" and also the path of least money. I did not care if my reps liked me. I did care that they became the best media sales rep that they could be, and they gave 100% every day to my media company. I still have those requirements today as a consultant. If 99.9% was good enough, 3,056 daily editions of the Wall Street Journal would be missing one section of the paper-for those who still subscribe to paper versus online. Not acceptable.
Here's a media property example. They use a minimum standard of performance for the sales reps. I believe with focused activity comes productive results. Here is the list of those standards:
1) Ask for referrals on every sales call.
2) Prime time selling is between 9am to 3pm. (can vary by market size. Some markets sell 10am to 4pm)
3) 4 qualified Customer Marketing Profiles (CMP) or Needs Analysis per week.
4) 4 closing presentations per week.
5) 3 seeding articles sent to prospects or current clients per week.
6) 5 solid prospects identified per week.
7) 6 face to face contacts per day which includes cold calls, service calls and closing calls. (varies by market size)
8) Sending hand written thank you notes to every contact that day.
Many reps who set their own standards find their activity is far higher than the standards listed above. The high achieving reps want to do one CMP per day. Many reps like to have one closing proposal/presentation per day. They all want to make money!
Should everybody be held to the same standards? Should the players for the San Francisco 49ers be expected to practice every day and come to practice at the same time? Should Frank Gore, the top running back for the 49ers, be required to do the same drills as the other running backs? Not only does Frank Gore practice like the others; he probably does it with more intensity and focus. That is why Frank Gore is one of the NFL's best running backs. He probably watches tape more than the other running backs.
A team's success and a reps success can come from doing the little things exceptionally well. Good management inspects what they expect daily. There is a lack of respect being shown when a manager does not care what a rep does each day. I do care that the sales reps become the best they can be, and I hope you expect the same!
Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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