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Sales Management by Robert J. Calvin

This article was inspired by Robert J. Calvin's Sales Management . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.

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How to be a Successful Sales Manager

“Most sales organizations need to be reengineered as you would a factory to increase capacity and productivity.”

If you want to change your sales organization for the better, you have to understand three simple factors:

  1. Weak managers produce a weak sales force. You have no one to blame but yourself.
  2. As a sales manager, you must support teamwork among your salespeople. You do your work with the help of others.
  3. Rather than trying to be a hero, create heroes out of your salespeople.

Once you have accepted these assumptions, you can meet today’s challenges. Prepare yourself to meet the following six changes at the workplace:

  1. “Shorter product or service life cycles” – Train your sales force to deal with this challenge. Give them the skills and product knowledge to sell well. Reward them when they succeed.
  2. “Longer, more complex sales cycles” – Reward salespeople who overcome the numerous hurdles required to make some sales. Train your employees to give demonstrations and presentations properly.
  3. “Buying from experts and friends” – Teach your salespeople to approach potential buyers as friends and peers. Ensure that they have more knowledge of the product than most consumers.
  4. “Group decisions” – Build an organization of salespeople that work well with each other. Complex sales to business may depend on team selling, so you want to bring a group of people together that can sell together.
  5. “Intense competition” – Use technology to your advantage. This will help you address international and domestic rivalries.
  6. “Less customer loyalty” – In an age where the Internet makes your markup public, your sales force must be able to demonstrate the benefits of your product to customers.

One of the most crucial aspects of being a manager is the hiring process. Don’t make quick uninformed decisions. Fire those who consistently fail to produce results, and avoid hiring simply because you like them. If you hire an entire sales force with the same background and experiences as yourself, then problems will arise.

To get the best results from your staff, train them in the first place. If you have few salespeople in your organization, spend about 40% of your time training them. Address your employees’ needs and go on sales calls with them, teaching them skills along the way. Time management is definitely a skill to instill. By helping your sales people develop the abilities they need; you will not only increase productivity, but also employees’ enthusiasm for work.

Determine the best balance of fixed pay and performance pay for your workers. By paying the best sales people more than their worth, you will gain their loyalty. With your guidance, they can make back all that you invested in them and then some. Over time, see if your compensation strategy works well. If a previous manager used a system that failed, don’t use it.

Finally, adapt to changing times. Take advantage of technological advancements and train your staff to do the same.


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