Do your sales reps know what they can expect from you, their sales manager?
Expectation is a two-way street. We are talking about you leading the way. It's one thing to demand something from your people, it's another thing to let them know what you are planning to give them and how you are going to hold yourself accountable as a sales manager. What are you going to provide to the team? How are you going to contribute outside of coaching them to success?
Here's an idea. Put together a list of 10 things your reps can expect from you and hang them up on your door, or somewhere in your office that's visible to them, or give it out in your next sales meeting to each one of your reps. Do it however you like it and whatever means makes sense for you. Cut it, mold it anyway you like -- I just suggest that you do it. Here's an example of one:
What You Can Expect From.Your Name
1. Six customer contacts daily. This depends on your market and if you carry a list as a sales manager Let your people know that you are talking to clients daily also. This is one of the most important things you can do besides train and lead your salespeople. The clients will also appreciate that you are involved in the sales process if they ever need you.
2. Review weekly planners and account management system. A lot of sales managers have systems and accountability-measuring systems -- many do not read them or use them as planning devices or coaching tools. They are not there to police your reps. They should be used by you to provide feedback to them. If you don't use them that way, then get rid of them. Don't have your people waste their time typing or filling them out if you're not going to read them and give them feedback.
3. Involvement in your property's top 50 accounts. Be involved. Be seen and get in front of the customer. These top 50 accounts need to have the sales manager's involvement. If you lose a rep or two, who is going to have the relationship with that account? You will.
4. 40-60 percent of your time in the field. This will vary depending on your job responsibilities Yes, your time is sacred. I think being a sales manager is one of the toughest jobs in sales. The one thing we can't budge on is time spent in the field with our reps. I don't care how often you're out there, just have a percentage figure in mind, on paper, on the wall, in your mind, and make a commitment to do that. How can you effectively evaluate your reps or know that they are communicating your company's features and benefits to prospects and clients if you're not in the field with them?
5. Open-door policy. Keep your door open as much as possible. I know this is tough. You have meetings; you have personal agendas. But keep that door open. It lets your people know that you are available and you're not hiding anything behind your office door. It will make them more comfortable with you as their leader. Your reps should know that they can come to you at any time with problems or ideas where you listen and it stays between you and them. When you're out in the field coaching them on sales calls, this can become a good time to discuss other things where you might close the door in an office-type setting.
6. Your input and involvement. The sales rep's input is critical for a high-revving team. Some of my best sales incentives and contests have come from ideas generated by our sales reps. Remember, if you view your people as subordinates with you as their leader, then you have a bureaucracy and not a team. This doesn't mean you have to go over everything with them. Just get their input on things from time to time and it will help you get their buy-in down the road. This is imperative for the execution of your programs and sales goals.
7. A "never give up" mentality. Never give up and never let your people give up. If a prospect is doing business with a competitor, they should know you will never give up trying to get them to do business with you and your company.
8. Turn non-worked accounts. If it's not being worked, and I mean developed and worked and this work is tracked, then turn the account. Not everybody likes me either. Your account management system should make sure of that. Depending on your market and sales cycle -- 90 days is normal for media -- to get a prospect doing business with you from the initial CMP call. If you are really running an account management system with open lines of communication, (See #5) your people will often come to you first and turn the accounts over. A rep's developmental list should really have no more than 30 accounts on it at any one time. There's no room for grandfathering accounts with more competition than ever on the streets. Keep the account lists short and have fresh people on some of those grandfathered accounts you've had sitting on account lists for three years.
9. Might not like what I say. Not everyone is going to agree with you. At the same time, you're not running for political office (or are you?). It's one thing to earn the respect of your people; it's another to become their best friend. This leads to trouble down the road -- I know these things because I've made those mistakes. It's hard to discipline a friend for non-performance. Your reps might not like what you say, though it will be the truth.
10. Have fun, share the rewards, and earn recognition. Providing an environment where it's fun and people love what they do, versus just keep slashing pay structures, is one of the most important things we can do in management. Yes, we need to make money in sales for the properties we work for -- that's what we do. As management we can't forget that we also need to provide that balance of work hard and play hard. Share the spoils of war with your people and recognize them for their superior performances and they will bring in more new business!
Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org orwww.luceperformancegroup.com. You can find Sean's new book The Liquid Fire on amazon.com.