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Help Sales Managers Put Out the Fires to Improve Results ThisYear

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)
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Chances are your sales managers are fighting more than one success-killing fire these days:

Undesirable Results Sales Managers Face

  • Not enough highly qualified prospects
  • Prospects gun-shy even when they need to buy
  • Prospects who don’t perceive your value
  • Inconsistent performance among salespeople
  • Customers with unsatisfactory experience with your sales organization
  • Not enough time in the field
  • Difficult customers you wish you hadn't won

What can you do to help them put out these fires and make results better quickly?

A valuable technique is to break down the sources of the problems. The fires may seem to come from everywhere, but in reality they come from a very limited number of factors:

  • people, methods, materials, machines, measurements, and environment

Of course, these are the basic elements of a business process. (Last week, we compared a business process to a methodology. It should be clear in this post that a methodology is inadequate by itself to create or improve results.)

You can help your team identify the sources of their fires, and discover clues for putting them out, with a simple fishbone diagram.

Break down the causes for undesirable results

Break down the causes for undesirable results

Figure 1: You can help your team discover causes of undesirable results by developing your own version of the fishbone diagram in this example.

Such a discussion helps the team realize the interdependencies among the factors that make their job (and the sales manager’s) challenging. It also points to potential solutions, and helps identify what is within – and outside of – their control.

These are important things to know.  For example, a common sales management problem is how to get salespeople to call on the right customers.

If you have low sales productivity, poor forecast accuracy, or are afraid you won't make money on business you do win, your salespeople are most likely calling on the wrong prospects.

Salespeople think they know who the right prospects are. Yet perhaps they don’t know what they don’t know:

  • Do your salespeople have defined qualification criteria?
  • Do they USE the criteria consistently? (How do you know?)
  • Are the criteria they use the RIGHT criteria?

Anyone of these errors is guaranteed to kill sales results fast.

Getting salespeople to see their prospects in a brighter light has immediate payback - it can improve their sales performance in the next few weeks by prioritizing the right accounts, and helping them focus on the issues that will help those prospects buy now.

For a thoroughly evidence-based treatment of this performance-killing problem, and an eye-opening case example that happened in a service business in the last two weeks, please register for our webinar:

How to Get Salespeople to Call on the Right Customers

Four Qualification Mistakes

Your Salespeople Are Probably Making Today

and What You Can Do About It

Thursday, August 6, 2009, 11:00am Eastern Time

This material was the result of several in-depth conversations between Ellen Bristol and me, so I'm pretty sure you will get a new and unique perspective you have not heard before.

I look forward to chatting with you on Thursday at the Webinar.

Michael Webb
August 3, 2009

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