What we find is remarkable:
The inconsistencies from Sales Manager to Sales Managers in a single sales force negatively affected productivity in 2011. There is up to a 400% difference in sales rep productivity from the worst to the best sales managers inside an organization.
Why does does this happen? How can we fix it?
Below are two tales of Sales Management Coaching in one sales force:
After introductions between us, the sales manager (Patrick) dialed into his first one on one. This virtual meeting was scheduled with Patrick and his sales rep (George) as a regular appointment every week. With an agenda already established, Patrick began to ask George about his week. They reviewed the agenda discussing each account George was working on in his pipeline. Adhering to a sales process Patrick put into place for his team (the company did not have a formal process), they either created tasks to move opportunities along the sales stages or decided not to work on certain ones anymore. Patrick provided coaching for certain sales situations, always considering advancing the sale and adhering to the customers buying process. It was a brilliant display of sales manager to sales rep one on one debriefing. It involved:
- a current status update
- coaching to best practices
- the customer’s voice with quoted dialogue
- praise for a job well down
- feedback for corrective behavior
- action items that drove increasing revenue.
It lasted all of 30 minutes.
It was awesome.
Just after that one on one was completed, I was shuffled into another room of the same company to observe another one on one by a different sales manager to another direct report sales rep. This one didn’t start that well. It was only scheduled because I was in town and someone said to take care of me. The sales manager (Matt) had not spoken to the rep (Ryan) in a while. In fact, they took the first 5 minutes asking how each other how they are doing:
“How is the family? Are you still driving the same car? Can you approve my expense report from last month? What’s going on with the new product we have been waiting for?”
Matt then asked Ryan about what he wanted to discuss. Ryan began to talk about an opportunity he was going to close that week. Matt engaged with him about that account for the next 20 minutes.
“How were we going to implement it? What are the payment terms? When would we get the signed contract?”
They seemed to be obsessed on an account that was pretty much already closed. With 5 minutes left of the conversation, Matt asked what the forecast was for the rest of the month. Time ran out; other calls following this one were on the calendar and the call ended. No future appointment was made, no action items discussed…it was just over.
It was awful
How can two sales managers in the same company treat the one on one debriefing so differently?
- Lack of Structure
- Lack of Process
- Lack of Direction
Sound familiar? Feel the same in your company?
You can fix it in three ways:
- Set an Agenda. Set an agenda for the next 3 months and stick to it. Always cover the same topics each week. Predictability leads to consistent answers, shows trends and allows for the BS meter to quiet down. The regular consistency and cadence reveals true transparency
- Set the same day and time every week. Having this cadence allows for the meeting not to be blown off. Scheduling it in the calendar allows it to actually happen. This is 80% of the challenge.
- Create three actions from every one on one. There must be actions that result from the meeting. Typically you own at least one action item and your rep is then responsible for the others. Don’t ever leave a meeting without action items and due dates.
Don’t get caught like the former sales manager. Witnessing the best and worst Sales Management one on one in 2011 within 30 minutes of one another was alarming. I now ask my clients these questions:
- Do your one on ones resemble the first example above or the latter?
- How can you improve your interactions and communications with your people?
- Do you treat the one on one as important as your sales rep treats it?
It is critical you change. Treat the one on ones as the most important interaction with your sales rep. Because it’s the most important interaction they have with you.
Analyze yourself over the holidays. Ask yourself hard questions. Are you conducting one on ones properly? Am I like Patrick or do I resemble Matt?
Attend our next webinar to understand if you have the right people on board. Or leave a comment. But don’t blow it off. Your quota attainment depends on it.