Why So Many Sales Managers are So Bad

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 @ 06:07 AM

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I see bad ones everywhere I look. They are not usually bad people and they might not have been bad salespeople, but they are usually so ineffective in their role as sales managers.  We will discuss some of the reasons and share an example next!

One reason that sales managers are ineffective is that many of the articles, information and guidelines about sales management practices are so bad!  Why?  Because so many of the people who write the articles are not experts on sales management! For example, for a couple of months the folks over at Pipedrive.com have been asking me to link to their article on sales management.  They told me that I failed to include the definition of sales management in this article on hiring salespeople and that if I pointed to their article on sales management it would fill in the gap.  

If I were writing opinion pieces for a baseball audience (that would be so much fun for me!) I wouldn't have to define baseball and because I write opinion pieces for a sales leadership audience so it doesn't make sense for me to define sales management.

Anyway, I clicked the link they provided, read it and unfortunately much of what is in their article is either outdated or not part of the core role of a modern sales manager.  From the definition, where they failed to mention that 50% of a sales manager's role is coaching, to the compensation, where they were off by as much as 50%, it just didn't resonate.  Given what they sell, I understand their need to build it around pipeline, but still.  Is it any wonder that when information like this is distributed to potential sales managers, that (1) it could attract the wrong people to the role, and (2) they could begin with a false sense of understanding of the requirements of the role?

I've written about the sales management role a lot and while I can't point to each of the 500 or so articles from here, one article has the essence of what sales management is all about and it's one of my 10 most popular articles of all time - the top 10 sales management functions.  Earlier in this article I mentioned that coaching is now 50% of a sales manager's job.  This article discusses the percentage of sales managers who have the necessary coaching skills while this article talks about why coaching salespeople is so scary for sales managers.

Two more reasons for ineffective sales management:

  1. Sales management is a full-time job but many sales managers who continue to sell, make it a part-time job.  Whether the choice to sell is theirs or management's, it's a bad choice because their first priority will always be their customers, their sales and their commissions.  Coaching, for development and to impact revenue, will be an afterthought.
  2. Executive Leadership often fails to understand what sales managers should really be doing with their time. As a result, they allow the sales managers to define their role, often resulting in less than ideal choices.

A couple of important links:

Hubspot Sales VP, Pete Caputa, compiled a great list of the top 33 sites for free sales and sales training videos.  Thanks for including me Pete!

An online war of words between me, a tech buyer who wrote an outrageous comment to my article on why more salespeople suck, and my readers exploded last week.  After I wrote an article in response to his comment about why he doesn't need salespeople, he wrote some very aggressive responses to the reader comments and the article and things got very interesting from there!  You can check out that lively discussion right here and please add your own comment to the page.  You might hear back from Todd!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, pete caputa, pipedrive, sales management role

Quadruple Dittos Motivate Your Sales Team to Achieve

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 05, 2016 @ 20:04 PM

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If you follow sports - even a little - then you know about special sports achievements.  The Hat Trick is pretty special in Hockey, The Cycle and the No-Hitter in Baseball represent near-perfect games, the Ace or the Hole-in-One is an ultimate score in Golf, and the Triple-Double represents the ultimate achievement in a Basketball game.  Yes, I know I left out Soccer - again - but I just don't know enough. [Update - Barry Hall wrote that Soccer has a Hat Trick - when an individual scores 3 goals in one game.]

When Verne Harnish published Mastering The Rockefeller Habits, the precursor to his current book, Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it and the Rest Don't (Rockefeller Habits 2.0), I followed his suggestion and began leading a daily huddle with my leadership team at Objective Management Group. In addition to reporting on the KPI's for which they are responsible, each leader mentions a victory or something exciting.  On yesterday's huddle, we achieved the equivalent of one of those great sports moments when we had a Quadruple Ditto.  What's a Quadruple Ditto and why is that important to you?

A Quadruple Ditto (we made it up) occurs when the thing that has excited the first leader excites each subsequent leader equally, causing them to say, "Ditto."  When at least 4 leaders say, "Ditto" we have achieved a Quadruple Ditto.

Now you know what it is, so why is it important for sales?

Sales Leaders should be leading huddles with their sales managers and sales managers should be leading huddles with their salespeople.  When everyone on the huddle has an equally exciting - albeit different - opportunity to report on, you have achieved a Quadruple Ditto.  When exciting new opportunities are few and far between, there won't be any Quadruple Dittos, but when the entire sales team is stuffing their pipeline with new, high-quality opportunities, you'll find yourself in Quadruple Ditto territory.

The key, of course, is that the opportunities are of high quality.  For help defining high-quality opportunities, please see The Sure Fire Way to Know Which Sales Opportunities are the Best Opportunities.

You can also call the Quadruple Ditto after 4 salespeople or more have reported on and met or exceeded each of their daily KPI's.

I'm going to achieve another version of a Quadruple Ditto in today's article with more than 4 outbound links.  I've already provided two and here are three more.

Josh Lev wrote this helpful article on the psychology of selling and I think it's worth checking out.

Pete Caputa, VP at Hubspot, posted this terrific article on 7 bad actors on every sales team. It appears on the Hubspot sales blog.  See all my articles here.

Stu Heincke, author of How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, interviewed me for his Chicago Radio Show.  Listen to the Podcast below. 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, verne harnish, Rockefeller Habits, pete caputa, scaling up, josh levs, daily huddle

Must Read - This Email Proves How Poorly the Bottom 74% of Salespeople Perform

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

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I've written more than 1,400 articles for Understanding the Sales Force and every one of them has been my observation of salespeople, sales managers and sales teams.  The observations come from sales force evaluations, sales candidate assessments, sales recruiting projects, sales training and coaching initiatives, and sales leadership training.  After 10 years and 1,400 articles and to avoid boredom, we will change things up a bit for this article.  

Ken is one of my longtime readers, a former client, and last week he sent this note expressing his frustrations as a buyer of services.  I'll add my comments and conclusions at the end of his note.

I just wanted to let you know that your sales training program has ruined me as a buyer.  The ineptitude of almost every sales team I have encountered recently is chilling, especially since you have shown me that they can do so much better.   I have come to wonder if it would be cost-effective for buyers to provide sales training to their prospective vendors to save us time, effort and aggravation in our purchasing process.  Salespeople chasing prospects??? I can’t tell you how much time I spend chasing vendors.

I started a new career in Information Security about 6 years ago and am now Chief Information Security Officer for a fast growing SaaS startup in the expense reporting and expense management space.  In my role, I need to purchase compliance services, auditing tools, training products, etc.

Here is the scenario that prompted this email:

A few weeks ago, I got a blast email to participate in a Webinar for a new auditing tool which was being offered by a well-known information security vendor.  I attended the Webinar but no salesperson followed up.  I went to the company website and filled out the ‘request evaluation’ form. No salesperson followed up.  I sent an email to sales@company.com requesting a conversation.

About 5 days later I got an email and a voicemail: ‘Would you like to set up a conversation?’ I responded to the email, ‘ I am available tomorrow morning from 10 a.m. to noon.’ The voicemail asked ME to call the rep. There has been no successive follow up.  I then reached out to some consultants I know in the industry asking for intros. One gave me a name but no introduction. Finally, my auditor set up a call for today.

The call started out promising, (i.e., I didn’t have to sit through 50 NASCAR slides telling me how great the company was and all the other companies they have done business with.)  The rep asked me what I hoped to learn.  After I told them, he handed the call off to his Sales Engineer for the ‘demo.’  Unfortunately, the SE had no capacity to show me or discuss with me the auditing tool that I was interested in. After 2 minutes the rep broke in and suggested we re-schedule for another time.  We’ll see if I hear back.

This is probably the worst example of about a half dozen similar ones where I have a need, I would like to buy something, and I end up doing all of the work.

Very frustrating.

Anyway thanks for allowing me to vent.

You're probably thinking, well, that's not what would happen if I was the salesperson or sales manager or sales VP or CEO.  Believe it or not, this is fairly common!  These are the very same companies that believe they have effective sales processes in place, that their 10% win rates are acceptable, and that they need to get people interested by conducting demos.  These are the companies that don't think they need help, have everything under control, have ineffective sales selection and even more ineffective sales management.

If the sales managers were decent, the very first time they debriefed a salesperson, listened to a call, observed a meeting, or discussed an upcoming call, they would have been able to identify ineffective follow-up, ineffective qualifying, ineffective listening and questioning, etc.

It's most likely that the sales managers are former salespeople who, like those they manage, specialized in conducting demos, creating proposals, and finding the 10% that will stick.

Monday, Pete Caputa, VP at Hubspot, posted a great article on qualifying, why so many salespeople suck at qualifying, and how that ultimately leads back to ineffective sales management (read the comments too).

This article on Linkedin Pulse questions whether it's really sales managers who are to blame or someone else.

Speaking of sales management, I'll be hosting my annual Sales Leadership Intensive - the best training anywhere on showing sales leaders how to really coach salespeople for impact.  We have a full house every time we offer it and some sales leaders come back multiple times!  It will be offered on May 17-18 in the Boston area and you can learn more about the event here.  You can register here.  And if you use - DKSLIMAY16 - the discount code for my readers, it will save you $100 per ticket.  It will be great to finally meet you!

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, sales process, sales performance, qualifying, win rates, pete caputa

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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