The CEO said, "We really like what you do, your sales force evaluation is exactly what we need, the information, data, science and intelligence that you provide is perfect for us. This is the right time to move forward, and we're ready to go."
Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I said, "But..."
And he said, "But we don't want to evaluate everyone right now. We want to start with our sales management team."
I hate being right.
Small and mid-market companies don't usually request this particular approach because their management teams are usually quite lean and it doesn't make sense for them to take this approach. But large companies tend to start all of their initiatives with the sales management team, and when that has been completed, move on to the salespeople. If we were talking about training, I would agree with that approach. It makes absolutely no sense to train salespeople until the sales managers are on board, bought in, and can expertly coach to the process, methodology, strategies and tactics. Always start with sales management.
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Companies typically have 5 reasons for starting with the sales managers:
- It's how they always do it (my favorite).
- To make a smaller investment up front.
- To pilot a program and see if they like it.
- To begin with a smaller, more manageable group.
- To give the managers a head start.
Those reasons all make sense - for training. But we weren't talking about training, we were talking about the crucial step that precedes training, defines training, tells us who can be trained, what it will take, and how much improvement we can expect. It tells us where the skill gaps are, where Sales DNA gets in the way and why we lose business. We were talking about OMG's legendary sales force evaluation.
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It's wrong to perform a sales force evaluation with only the managers for just as many reasons as it's correct to begin training that way:
- We get only sales management data.
- We get only one part of the sales management data at that - the part provided by the sales managers.
- This limited data cannot fully explain how the sales force is dealing with the challenges they face.
- It does not answer the questions as to whether the company is hiring the right people, changes they need to make to their sales selection criteria, if their people are coachable and trainable, and where the skill gaps are.
- It does not answer the questions as to whether they can sell more consultatively, whether they are capable of finding and closing more new business, shortening their sales cycle, or becoming more effective selling value. And lots more.
A better way to start a limited sales force evaluation is to begin with a region or team. Let's review the 5 reasons for starting with the managers again. Only this time, let's see if we can meet those conditions while including the salespeople.
- It's how they always do it. - Gulp. They'll need to change that!
- To make a smaller investment up front. - That still works.
- To pilot a program and see if they like it. - That works too.
- To begin with a smaller, more manageable group. - That still works.
- To give the managers a head start. - That works too. All the managers can learn from this initial experience.
Are you familiar with the expression, "Life is like a sewer - You get from it what you put into it"? That analogy won't work here. But this one will:
The sales force is like an Apple Pie. The sales management team is the crust, and the salespeople are the apples and the filling. If you evaluate only the sales managers, you get crust!
When you evaluate a region or a team - you take a slice of the sales force. You get the good stuff - apples and filling!
That is always more satisfying, more valuable, and leaves a better taste in everyone's mouth!
image Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo