Can a New Sales Manager Be a Difference Maker?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 09, 2022 @ 06:11 AM

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For the longest time, my local Panera in Westboro Massachusetts was awful.  Like phone company awful. And cable company awful.

The problem was chronic.  The half and half was always empty.  The supplies of cup insulators and trays were nowhere to be found. The wait at the drive-through was intolerable.  Online orders were never ready at or even close to the time they provided for pickup.  Online orders were routinely screwed up.  

And then Panera wasn't a problem anymore.

Over the course of a few weeks in the summer of 2022, everything changed and they became remarkably reliable. What happened? 

They got a new manager! I'm guessing (I did not interview her) the new manager prioritized KPI's and accountability, hiring people who had attention to detail, who were committed to customer satisfaction, and who took personal responsibility.

Could companies that wanted to experience a similar uptick in sales performance achieve that by replacing their sales managers?

Maybe.

it would depend on with whom they replaced the sales manager.

I speak with so many sales leaders who tell me about the four sales managers they went through in the last two years.  I speak with CEOs who tell me about the three sales VPs they went through in the last eighteen months.

There is tremendous pressure to fill these roles because your team's performance will suffer without someone at the helm.  Or is that misinformation?  How much worse could a team perform than how they perform under a sucky sales manager?

Well thought-out role requirements, patience, and being uncompromising are important ingredients to landing the ideal sales leader and/or sales manager.  When companies try to quickly fill an opening and as they often do, make a mistake, they have essentially doubled the amount of time that it takes to put a competent leader in the role.  Had they adhered to the requirements, been patient enough to continue recruiting and interviewing until a candidate met the requirements, and committed to not compromising, it could take an extra month or two, but it will be well worth it.

The problem is that most companies don't really know how to properly set requirements for these two roles, don't have an effective way to ascertain that the sales management and/or sales leadership candidate has the required skills to meet the requirements, and aren't disciplined enough to invest the time to get it right.

I write about Objective Management Group (OMG) a lot, and especially OMG's role-specific, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.  I rarely, if ever write about OMG's Sales Management Candidate Assessments or its Sales Leadership Candidate Assessments.  As I mentioned in this article, sales managers must spend the appropriate amount of time and be effective at coaching up salespeople.  How would anyone interviewing a candidate know the candidate was capable of this without the power of OMG's accurate insights?  Request a sample of the sales and/or sales leadership candidate assessments.

Other than actual experience, there are three primary differences between sales managers and sales leaders:

  1. Sales Managers are tactical (sleeves rolled up) and should focus on coaching while Sales Leaders are strategic and should focus on leadership (sleeves rolled down).  
  2. Sales Managers have salespeople reporting to them while Sales Leaders have Sales Managers reporting to them.   
  3. Sales Managers tend to earn in the $125,000 to $175,000 range while Sales Leaders tend to earn in the $250,000 to $350,000 range (US Dollars).

There are a lot of people carrying a Sales VP title who are actually performing the role of Sales Manager.  There are also some over-qualified Sales Managers who compensate for under-qualified and overwhelmed Sales VPs.  If companies could get these two roles right we would see an historic uptick in sales performance.

As part of OMG's Sales Team Evaluations, we conduct role analyses and can show you if you have the right people in the right roles and, if not, which roles they should be in.

OMG also conducts a pipeline analysis, a sales process analysis, a growth opportunity analysis, a sales cycle length analysis, a selling capabilities analysis a motivational analysis, a Sales DNA analysis and so much more.  Request a sample of the SEIA.

OMG has the greatest suite of tools for sales selection and development since sliced Panera Bread.  Would it help you to use OMG?  Contact us here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales leaders, sales pipeline, sales managers, omg, OMG Assessment, panera, sales team evaluation

When Sales Leaders Don't Lead With Their Strengths

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 05, 2012 @ 14:11 PM

Today I received a request for all of my articles to date which reference Objective Management Group's Sales VP/Director Assessment.  I conducted a quick search and found - what?  None!  Out of nearly 1,000 articles, I hadn't referenced OMG's Sales VP/Director Assessment even once!  I'll fix that right now.

Unlike our sales and sales management assessments, which are usually performed as part of a sales force evaluation at the request of an executive, most VP assessments are requested by the VP's themselves.  There are some pretty interesting components to it, so I'll discuss some of the more intriguing ones here.

Compared with a sales management assessment, where the sales manager must be tactical, the VP must be more strategic, so we have a Strategic Thinking dimension.  Our VP assessment also integrates a component of our Leadership Assessment, the Key Management Dynamics, where we can determine how well the VP has developed the Strategy Style, one of the nine Leadership Styles which we measure.

We also measure and identify the sales VP's tendency to default to any of eight competencies over the others when they need to grow revenue.  It becomes interesting when a VP scores high in one competency but defaults instead to a different competency (one where they scored lower) to drive revenue.  And isn't it powerful to finally be aware of that, learn why, and change?  When sales leaders default to a competency that isn't their best, they can become frustrated when the desired changes and revenue do not occur.  Not only that, when they aren't aware of a skill gap in the competency they chose, it can alienate sales managers and salespeople.  For instance, when a sales leader scores high in Coaching and low in Motivation and chooses to fire up the sales team to grow sales, it will not work as effectively as if coaching had been chosen.

When VP's request this assessment, they can use it as a self-coaching tool or as a coaching road map by an outside sales leader.  But more than a self-development tool, it explains the strengths which are supporting sales leadership excellence, points out the weaknesses which may be responsible for not driving sales and growing salespeople (at their current or prior companies) to achieve their fullest potential.

If you are interested in getting yourself evaluated as a Sales VP or Director, just send me an email and I'll make sure that one of my experts contacts you ASAP.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales leaders, assessment, people problems, sales issues

The Sales Leadership Landscape - A Different Perspective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

sales landscapeCEO's are much more likely than Sales Leaders to pay companies in the sales development space for help, yet Sales Leaders are much more likely than CEO's to attend workshops, seminars and briefings.  (Speaking of events, if you are in the Washington DC area, I'll be speaking to a small group of CEO's over breakfast on June 26 at the Park Hyatt.  If you would like to attend, drop me an email and I'll arrange for you to be included!)

Why is that?  

CEO's typically want the help - right now - while Sales Leaders want to learn what they need to do and then do it themselves.  Sales Leaders haven't been trained to provide sales force evaluations and sales and sales management training, develop sales methodologies, selling models, custom sales processes, etc. They don't usually have the skills to effectively do this work and it shouldn't be in their job descriptions, yet many attempt it just the same.

Homeowner landscaping is a good analogy.  Many homeowners take care of their own lawns, plant their own shrubs, trees, and flowers, and maintain their beds and trees.  They get it done and it looks OK, but if you compare their properties to one professionally maintained by a full-service landscaping company (as opposed to a guy who just happens to have a truck and a tractor), you can see the difference.

Consider this algebraic formula:

FormulaSales Leaders are to Homeowners as Sales Development Experts are to Professional Landscaping Companies.  

Both can do it, but one does it much more effectively, efficiently, with more resources, better results and you can see the difference.  With property, it improves curb appeal and increases the resale value of the home or building.  In the case of the sales force, it improves performance, increases revenue, and you can see the impact on EBITDA.  It increases the value of the company.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, Sales Force, sales leaders, sales competency, EBITDA

How the Right Sales Leader Can Turn Around Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 11, 2012 @ 22:06 PM

KGWhat jumpstarts sales performance?  Here are the first 30 which I thought of.  Is it:

  1. Improved Selling Skills? 
  2. Change in Attitude?
  3. More Intensity? 
  4. Written Goals?  
  5. Effective Targeting?  
  6. Stronger Motivation
  7. Stronger Desire?
  8. More Pride?
  9. More Determination?
  10. Tenacity?
  11. New Sales Talent?
  12. Training?
  13. Coaching?
  14. Assessments?
  15. Tools?
  16. Accountability?
  17. Competition?
  18. Killer Product?
  19. A Sale?
  20. Buying Incentives?
  21. Performance Incentives?
  22. Optimized Sales Process?
  23. Better Sales Methodology?
  24. Improved Sales Model?
  25. Effective Sales Management?
  26. Ultimatums?
  27. Deadlines?
  28. Better Demos?
  29. Professional Proposals?
  30. Economy?
I was listening to a Boston sports radio show where the topic was on how future Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Garnett (KG), single-handedly changed the culture of the Boston Celtics when he arrived there several years ago. 
 
Here are ten of the things for which they said he was responsible (in no particular order):
  • Holding everyone accountable,
  • Team dinners,
  • Leading by example,
  • Taking younger players aside,
  • Intensity,
  • Raising expectations,
  • Presence,
  • Physical Play,
  • Attitude and
  • Unselfishness.
The Celtics were a struggling franchise and KG, along with his 10 competencies, led them to an NBA championship and playoff competition each year that he was there. 
 
So is there anything that KG brought to the table that a key sales leader couldn't introduce to his sales force?  Not a thing. 
 
While each of the 30 sales-related items (yes, there are more) listed above are important and some are instrumental, it begins with people who can make a difference.  Do you have the right people?  Do you have people who can step up?  Do you have people who should have stepped up but didn't?  Did the wrong people step up and model the wrong attitudes and behaviors? 
 
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make with their people is allowing or asking the wrong people to take leadership roles on their sales force.  It doesn't have to be a VP, Director or Sales Manager.  Even a salesperson who is well-liked and/or respected by his peers, who doesn't model the right behaviors, skills and attitudes, will have a significant, detrimental effect on the entire organization. 
 
What kind of people problems have you created?
 
How can you fix them?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales leaders, sales competency, people problems, sales issues

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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