Sales managers aren’t getting much sleeping these days. Looking for opportunities to place orders is a great character-building experience. While the economy continues to sluggish forward as sales managers and their managers search for solutions to ensure their businesses are able to stay in business.
Of course, management is aware the fact that many businesses have reduced their inventory. However, they also recognize that there are some companies that continue to buy and need to share in the action. If they don’t see that happening, the executives will usually make changes to sales managers or alter the structure of the sales team. It’s a regular course of decision-making, particularly when they’re not acquainted with or may have forgotten the way salespeople fight to be part of Teams One within the trenches. The issue could be in the management itself.
Expectations can cause problems.
For instance, the expectations of management could be more than the capabilities of the sales force. This is a common scenario when there isn’t an exchange of ideas between both the manager and management to establish an agreed-upon sales goal at the beginning of each year. Motivation is usually integrated into the process via the sales incentive program, which lavishly rewards those who excel. Although the objectives must be realistic, they have to be stretch objectives, which typically call for outstanding performance. If both the management and sales manager are in the same boat, the unrealistic expectations can be reduced or even eliminated.
Since sales professionals perform a high-risk/high reward job, managers who don’t have experience in sales might feel that the benefits received by their sales personnel to be insufficient and a burden on their budgets. In the end, they could be inclined to decrease the size of the salesperson’s area of operation or the number of accounts he manages in a non-sensical method of reducing the number of commissions a salesperson could receive. In addition, salespeople are faced with fierce and skilled competition who are also determined to get their commissions. Therefore, getting results is not guaranteed. Implementing and maintaining a designed incentive program is crucial to retain and attract top performers.
Things don’t always go as they appear.
The need for reliable support from the organization is in order to ensure the continuity of service for customers even when salespeople are away from calling prospective customers or customers. Support staff occasionally witness their sales representatives enjoying customers, taking off to exotic locations to meet prospects or accompanying the President of the company to visit the account, or getting invited to a golf excursion. It is not uncommon for staff members from the office to be jealous of sales representatives, who are compromising their support for sales. What office workers don’t observe is their salesperson getting called home around 9:30 pm only to hear a furious customer complain the product of the salesperson was not working, which caused a production line to be shut down. After making a dash to the plant of the customer to resolve the issue, the salesperson is finally home around 2 am. Or the office staff don’t even look at the face of the salesperson when she finds out, after four long months of researching specifications and manufacturing problems for her client, that the order she promised was actually going to a competitor that did nothing, but was able to offer a less expensive cost. Management must ensure that all support personnel are aware of and comprehends the multiple and crucial role played by the sales team.
In the end, each salesperson is the one accountable.
When sales fall, Do not blame the sales team. Make sure that goals for sales have been mutually reached, a good incentive program is in place, and the company is providing the required assistance. Adjust as needed; however, in the end, the sales force will be accountable.
John Riley is president, Business Counsel Associates, a company that provides business development services with its headquarters within Phoenix, AZ. John has also been a teacher for classes in business management for business professionals on the campus of Paradise Valley Community College and a former columnist in the field of the business strategy of The Business Journal.
He relocated to Arizona after his tenure at Alcoa, where he held marketing, sales, and management positions. In his work experience were six years of work abroad in Alcoa’s Europe, Africa, and Middle East headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, where it was active in the aerospace as well as packaging and food markets.