What Sales Managers Do That Make Them So Ineffective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 @ 14:07 PM

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Earlier this week I wrote an article on why so many sales managers are so bad.  In today's article, I'll share what makes them so ineffective.  The easiest way to explain this is to start with a baseball analogy.

Our son, who is now 14, is a very talented baseball player.  In addition to me, he has been coached in some capacity by approximately 15 other baseball coaches with varying degrees of effectiveness.  Some were very good, and some were very bad.  Not because they were bad people, but because they simply didn't know what they didn't know.  Here is an example of a bad coach from when our son was 12 years old.  The pitcher (not our son) was not throwing strikes and had walked 3 straight batters.  The coach yelled out, "throw strikes!"  Now if these were high school kids and the pitcher was trying to be too nibble, that instruction, or just, "Pound the zone" might work.  But 12 year-olds are still learning to pitch so asking for an outcome without providing instruction isn't very helpful.  Next the coach yelled, "Fix your mechanics!"  Again, if the pitcher knew which mechanics and/or how to fix them it might be helpful but of course, he didn't.  The next thing the coached yelled was, "Make an adjustment!"  I wasn't coaching this team so there wasn't anything that I could do, but I knew what should have happened.  If the coach actually knew which mechanics needed to be adjusted he would have called time out, walked to the mound, and had a chat.  He could have shared any one of the following examples of adjustments to pitching mechanics:

  • You're rushing - slow down your delivery
  • You're not pushing off the rubber - use your legs!
  • You're throwing across your body - turn your chest toward home plate before your arm comes around
  • You're not finishing your pitches - follow through
  • There is too much movement - pitch from the stretch 
  • You're releasing the ball too early, too late, too high, too low.
  • You're not extending your arm - throw down hill
  • You're over throwing - don't throw it as hard
  • You're holding the ball too tight - loosen your grip a bit
  • You're too anxious - breath!

And if the coach was oblivious to the mechanics, but still insisted on yelling out to his pitcher, he could have simply yelled out some encouragement! In lieu of instruction, at least encouragement will motivate, and not demotivate.  Now let's make the transition from baseball to sales management.

Sales Managers are usually guilty of the exact same thing.  We've all heard sales managers ask salespeople to:

  • Close more sales
  • Qualify them better
  • Make more appointments!
  • Ask better questions
  • Ask for more money
  • Go back and try again!
  • Get it closed before the end of the quarter
  • Give them an incentive!

How many sales managers know how to actually coach their salespeople?  How many of them can debrief in such a way that they can identify exactly where a sales conversation went south?  Identify which key question didn't get asked or followed up?  Role play how the conversation should have gone?  Role play how the next conversation should sound? Identify why a prospect was stuck on price when the goal was to sell value?  Determine why the prospect lacked urgency?  Figure out why the salesperson was unable to reach the decision maker?  Understand what in the salesperson's Sales DNA interfered with executing the sales process?  Learn which skill gap was responsible for the outcome?

Typically, most Sales Managers are not any better at providing coaching on the mechanics of selling than volunteer baseball coaches are at providing coaching on the mechanics of hitting or pitching.  We have a long way to go!

One of the challenges facing some companies is that many old school, veteran salespeople don't understand why they need to change their approach, change expectations or even participate in training and coaching.  With the world around them changing at breakneck speed, they appear to be blind to to it all.  Despite global competition, prospects who don't need a typical salesperson calling on them, and the need to sell value instead of price, these salespeople refuse to admit that anything has changed.  To make matters worse, their sales managers are often afraid to challenge them.  They are concerned that the salesperson's may quit if feathers are ruffled or worse, the sales manager will get terminated if a veteran salesperson complains to the C Suite.  It's an awful situation and it's made worse when weak, unqualified and ineffective sales managers are put into these roles.

We need a revolution!  I don't want to sound like Bernie but that is truly what is needed with the current state of sales management.  Will you be a leader, a follower or a resistor?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, Baseball

A CEO's Guide to the Differences in Sales Leadership Roles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 @ 14:06 PM

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Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

I was reviewing a sales leadership evaluation with my client, a CEO, who was a bit confused over how this was different from a sales management evaluation.  He wondered, "Aren't sales managers and sales leaders the same?"

He has a sales force that was typical of a mid-size business with a Sales VP (the sales leader), 2 sales managers, and about 15 salespeople between them.  In my experience, there is a boatload of confusion over the differences between Sales Managers, Sales Directors, Sales VP's, Regional Sales Managers, National Sales Managers, Senior Sales VP's, Worldwide Sales VP's, Sales Operations VP's, Sales Enablement VP's and Chief Revenue Officers.

Let's attempt to explain some of the important differences between Sales Managers and the other Sales Leadership roles.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we evaluate both Sales Managers and Sales Leaders as well as Salespeople.  To use the proper evaluation, we often have to ignore titles and pay more attention to reports and function.  

Who are the Direct Reports?  One of the most obvious differences between Sales Managers and other Sales Leaders is who reports to them.  Typically, salespeople report to Sales Managers and Sales Managers report to Sales Directors or Sales VP's.  One of the reasons that executives get confused is this example where, in one company, the manager of 5 salespeople is a Sales Manager, while the company across the hall with 3 salespeople has them reporting to a VP Sales.  Sometimes, the very first hire a company makes is a Sales VP whose role is to sell.  Titles do not tell the story, but reporting structure does!

What is the Primary Function?  The primary function of a Sales Manager is to coach salespeople, so the focus is on tactics.  The primary functions of a Sales VP's are market penetration, building an effective sales organization, systems and processes, and revenue growth, so the focus must be on strategy.  Small companies, looking to hire their first Sales Leader, often want both - someone who can bring strategy as well as tactics.  They must choose between hiring a Sales VP who is willing to perform Sales Management functions, or a Sales Manager who may be completely unproven when it comes to strategic thinking.  A compromise is not usually the solution, so we need to look at who will be reporting to this person and recognize that a proven Sales Manager with a passion for coaching salespeople will have the most impact.

What is the Compensation?  While this can vary wildly depending on the industry, there are some common range differences.  Most Sales Managers earn between $125,000 and $175,000 in total compensation while most Sales VP's earn between $250,000 and $350,000 in total compensation.  When a small company hires someone to perform in the Sales Management role, but awards a VP title, the cost goes up significantly!

What about those other Roles?  Sales Enablement VP's, sometimes known as Sales Operations VP's, arrange for the tools and training.  Sales Directors sometimes report to Sales VP's while in other companies, the reverse is true.  Both positions are necessary when there are too many of one of those titles.  For example, if we have 6 Sales Directors, each with 3 sales managers reporting to them, the Sales Directors would report to a VP.  Or, if we had 6 Sales VP's, each with 3 sales managers reporting to them, the Sales VP's would report to either a Sales Director, a Senior VP Sales, or a Worldwide VP Sales.  And finally, the senior sales leader and the senior marketing leader would report to a Chief Revenue Officer.  In some companies, Sales Managers are the salespeople (think territory managers) while Sales VP's are the sales managers with some expanded responsibilities.

So back to the Review of the Sales Leadership evaluation.  One of the interesting findings that confused the CEO was that while his Sales Leader scored 81% on Sales Strategy and 77% on Sales Coaching, the leader's tendency was to default to Sales Accountability (get tougher) and Sales Recruiting (hire better salespeople) despite having much, much lower scores on those competencies.  We see this a lot with Sales Leaders - using skills where they aren't that strong and failing to use skills in which they are really good!

There are many different styles of leadership and when it comes to Sales Leaders, you may have a preference as to the style and how well that style fits into your culture.  Be warned though. Pick the style you like after you have determined that the sales leader has mastery over the competencies for that particular sales leadership role.  A great style makes it easier to work with someone.  When style trumps capabilities, your new sales leader could be the skipper of a sinking ship.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, sales VP, Sales Director

Sales Performance - Stop Worrying About the Words You Say

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 @ 04:01 AM

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When coaching, most sales managers change the words their salespeople use.  "That's not how I would say it - try this instead!"  While there are a couple of key moments in the sales process where the words do actually matter, for 98% of the sales process, it's about listening and asking appropriate questions, following the process, achieving key milestones, following the company's general strategy and using appropriate sales tactics.  It's almost never about the actual words.  For example, last week I coached a salesperson who was using all of the words the other salespeople on the team were instructed to use - but with vastly different results.  I think you'll find the coaching interesting.

I wrote an article about it for LinkedIn Pulse and you can read it here.  It's a quick read and it has the details I did not provide above.

As she tried to reduce her time-on-call from 9 to 7 minutes, she skipped an important step, rushed and became ineffective.  More often than not though, poor performance is the result of not being either strategic or tactical enough, avoiding milestones because of discomfort, or allowing the prospect to lead the salesperson away from the crucial sequence of the sales process.  

Whatever reasons may be causing poor performance, it's the sales manager's job to identify it, make sure that the salesperson learned a valuable lesson, role-play how it should have sounded instead, and make sure there is a sound plan of action moving forward.

While Sales Managers should be spending at least 50% of the time on coaching, statistics say that fewer than 25% of all sales managers spend more than 25% of their time coaching. According to this article, only 7% of sales managers are elite, 18% shouldn't even be in a sales management role, and 34% aren't trainable.  As bad as the statistics are, the eye test is even worse.  When we train and coach sales managers on how to be more effective at coaching, most have little idea as to how much of their time should be spent coaching and few have any concept as to how to coach effectively.

It's time.  Let's make ineffective sales performance and ineffective sales coaching a thing of the past.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales performance

The Conversation Sales Leaders Must Have with Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 @ 06:07 AM

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Thanks to another recommendation from my client and friend, Chris Collias, I am reading a terrific book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers.

On page 49 (of the Kindle Edition), there is a must-read passage for Sales Leaders who want to properly lead a sales force. The passage sums up what sales coaching and accountability are all about. 

After assembling a top-end sales force, he completely revamped the sales process and sent every salesperson through a rigorous and unforgiving training program. He demanded mastery. Any slip-up in technique, skill, or knowledge would be met with total intolerance from Mark.

We held a weekly forecast call where Mark reviewed every deal in front of the entire 150-person sales force.  On one such call, a salesperson described an account that he'd forecast in detail: "I have buy-in from my champion, the vice president that he reports to, and the head of purchasing.

My champion assures me that they'll be able to complete the deal by the end of the fiscal quarter."

Mark quickly replied, "Have you spoken to the vice president's peer in the networking group?"

Sales rep: "Um, no I haven't."

Mark: "Have you spoken to the vice president yourself?"

Sales rep: "No."

Mark: "Okay, listen carefully.  Here's what I'd like you to do.  First, reach up to your face and take off your rose-colored glasses.  Then get a Q-tip and clean the wax out of your ears.  Finally, take off your pink panties and call the fucking vice president right now, because you do not have a deal."

Mark was right.  It turned out that we did not have a deal, as the vice president's peer in networking was blocking it.  We eventually got a meeting with him and won the deal.  More important, Mark set the tone:  Sloppiness would not be tolerated.

 

I loved this passage. I'll read it at every Sales Leadership Intensive. I don't condone using the language [Update:  See comments below for clarification] with a salesperson, but the approach is spot on. The challenge, for most sales leaders, is whether or not they can do the following:

  • Can they see around the corner?
  • Can they anticipate 5 steps ahead?
  • Can they be cynical?
  • Can they be both optimistic and skeptical at the same time?
  • Can they push back and challenge their salespeople without being afraid of their salespeople hating them or quitting?

If you can't imagine a sales leader having any of these difficulties, then you are fine! If you have some of these difficulties, then you absolutely must attend my annual Sales Leadership Intensive in August.

Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, accountability, sales pipeline, pipeline review

Connecting the Dots on Sales Management

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 28, 2015 @ 09:05 AM

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Copyright / 123RF Stock Photo

Do you remember the morning that you couldn't find your keys, but they were right there on the counter?  Or the time that you couldn't find an article of clothing, but it was hanging right there in your closet the entire time you were looking for it?  Or the time you couldn't find your car in the airport parking garage?  And yes, it was right where you parked it.  Sometimes, things are right in front of you and you don't notice them!  And that brings us to this sales management topic.  

Last week, I wrote about the sales force where half of the salespeople resigned and why that happened.  If you didn't read that, please read that now.

And earlier this week, I wrote about the similarity between the 2 main characters in the movie Whiplash and a salesperson with a difficult prospect.  If you didn't read that article, please read that now.

So it was right in front of me and I missed it completely.  Until now.

The tormentor in Whiplash could have been the sales manager in the first article!  He didn't have relationships, he wasn't trusted, and he wasn't respected.  He may have confused respected with feared - he knew his students feared him and he believed - incorrectly - that it was respect.  He didn't take the time to know what motivated his students, although he assumed, like most sales managers do, that he knew.  In this case, he assumed it was greatness or stardom.  He didn't have any need for his students to like him, he put tremendous pressure on them and was hated!  Fletcher and Jeff are the same person!

Objective Management Group's statistics show that 18% of all sales managers should not be in sales management, 34% of them cannot be trained to become effective sales managers, and only 7% are elite at their role.

You should know by now that half of a sales manager's time - 50% - should be spent coaching their salespeople.  Unfortunately, most sales managers don't allocate that kind of time for coaching and aren't very effective at it.

That's why we hold our annual Sales Leadership Intensive where, among other things, we spend the major parts of two days on how to master sales coaching.  Assuming that you and your sales managers are not among the elite 7%, this two-day event is the fast track to joining that elite group.  Learn more about our August Sales Leadership Intensive right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, training, whiplash

Why Half of the Sales Force Resigned This Month

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 08:05 AM

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Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Half of the company's 20 salespeople have left voluntarily in just the last month and the CEO wants to know why everyone is resigning.  He wants Jeff, his sales manager, coached up and needs to recruit replacements.  He has tremendous urgency to get this moving and believes that Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment will help him select good salespeople that will stick around.  But there is a hidden problem that the CEO is unaware of and even the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet - ours - won't overcome the issue.  It's worse than you can imagine!  It turns out that the sales manager is causing everyone to leave.

OMG had conducted a sales force evaluation a month earlier and the following issues were among dozens attributed to Jeff:

  • His salespeople don't trust him, so they won't trust his intentions or his coaching advice.
  • His salespeople don't respect him, so they won't perform for him or value his coaching.
  • He doesn't have relationships with his salespeople, so they won't share their concerns with him.
  • He has 86% of the attributes we look for in the Accountability Skill Set without complimentary Motivational or Coaching Skill Sets making him quite the task master/dictator.
  • None of his salespeople are comfortable working for a sales manager that places tremendous pressure on them to perform.
  • He only spends 10% of his time coaching, so there is pressure without any support.
  • He does not know what motivates his salespeople.

Any one or two of these findings alone would not be the end of the world, but when one sales manager has all 7, you realize that Jeff is hated!  That's why the salespeople are leaving - and fast.

So here is the question.  Do you urgently work to train and coach Jeff before he blows up the rest of the team or do you find a replacement for Jeff?

Of course, it depends on the rest of the team, but in my experience, it would be crucial to eliminate Jeff from the equation and look for a replacement at the same time that you are replacing the salespeople that have already departed.  If you were to retain Jeff, and make the faulty assumption that Jeff could be fixed, you could lose the rest of the team while you are doing repairs and run the risk that he would alientate the sales candidates that are interviewing for the available jobs.  If your company is big enough and the community is small enough, word could easily get out that your company is not a very good place to work, making it difficult to attract good salespeople for years to come.  

The bigger question is, how was the CEO so completely unaware of Jeff's failings and the salespeople's immense dislike for him?

The combination of a hands-off CEO (as in unapproachable) and a powerful (remember the accountability skill set) sales manager create the perfect storm for a scenario like this.  It's crucial for CEOs to be visible, approachable, involved and committed to the success of the sales force and clearly, that was not evident at this company.

Sales Managers often fail to have the desired impact on the sales force.  In most cases, they have not been trained or coached to lead a sales force, rarely understand what is expected of them, lack the skills to effectively perform in the role, and don't have a clue how to get people to follow them, perform for them or grow.

If you are a sales manager, did you get the equivalent of four years of college to prepare you for your role?  If you are a Sales Director or VP with sales managers reporting to you, did you provide them with that kind of training and development?  If you are a CEO, do you have people in sales management roles who have not been adequately trained to have an impact?

I'll be hosting my annual, top-rated, Sales Leadership Intensive on August 27-28, 2015 in the Boston area.  Click here for more details.  It would be very cool to have you and/or your people there!

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Topics: sales management, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales candidate assessment, sales test, problem sales manager

How Music Can Definitely Help You Sell More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

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Next week, I have a special treat for my readers.  I will post an article that features my least read articles of all time - sounds very exciting, doesn't it?  While I was looking for the least read articles, I consistently came across a whole bunch of my articles that were related to music.  I found enough to create another article series.  By the way, do you know about my article series?  If you scroll down the left-side panel of any article on my Blog, you'll come to a section where the heading is KURLAN ARTICLE SERIES.  You will find 21 series of articles and my personal favorite is the one where I Compare Salespeople to Children.  In the past 10 years, I have written 33 articles with a tie-in to kids and not surprisingly, they are almost always about my kid at various ages.  Anyway, I just realized that I already have a series on Music and Selling, but it's missing a few articles that should have been included there.  So check out that series, and then read these articles too:

When are Salespeople Too Old to Sell Effectively? 10 Conditions

Can the Beatles Help You Close Big Deals?

Mastering Sales and Sales Management

The Impact of Coaching Salespeople and Sales Managers

Top 7 Reasons Why Ineffective Salespeople Get By

Trigger Events - The Anatomy of Sales Wisdom

Professional Sales and the All-Star Jazz Performance

Music is all around us and you can't escape from it if you wanted to.  But there's a lot you can learn from music, and music can definitely help you sell!  Music can set the mood, get you pumped, calm your nerves, or provide a great example.  Lyrics can make great positioning statements, be used to tell a story, or be used on slides.  Rhythms can help with pace and set a mood.  Music can be used to introduce you, a subject, or a point.  You can use music in the background of a presentation.

Mostly, you can use music to help your audience relate to you.  Everyone loves music and if you use a bit more music and a lot less of you talking, you can't help but be more successful!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales mastery, closing big deals, sales wisdom, the truth about old salespeople

Earthquakes Hold the Key to Accurate Sales Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

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I love finding cool new apps for my iPad and I'm always looking for the next great weather app.  I recently downloaded eWeather HD and as I poked around, I found something I had never seen before and it has a huge tie-in to sales management, the pipeline, and accurate forecasts!

Appearing right next to the tab for weather alerts, eWeather HD has a tab labeled Quakes.  What the...?  Yes indeed, it logs earthquakes!  Did you know that today, as I write this at 10:18 AM, there have been 6 earthquakes in the past hour?  There was a quake in Eastern Turkey 31 minutes ago that registered 2.1 on the Richter scale, and in the past hour, there were 5 more:

A 2.8 in San Juan, Argentina, a quake in Eastern Turkey that registered 2.3, a 2.4 in the Ionian Sea, a 3.0 in Oklahoma and a 3.1 in Alaska.  And if we go back just 8 hours, there were 14 others, including a 4.3 in Mexico, a 4.5 in Japan, and a 5.0 in Vanuatu.  I don't know about you, but I had no idea that our planet experienced non-stop quakes.  I thought that the ones we heard about on the news accounted for all of the known earthquake activity.

If you run a company, lead a sales force or manage salespeople, you are probably in the dark about salesquakes in much the same way I was in the dark about earthquakes.  The salesquakes registering 5.0 and up on the Kurlan scale - issues that your salespeople come to you with - you know all about those.  But how many of the issues do you hear about when they register below 5.0?

You hear about the deal that's about to close, but then it falls apart.  That's a 6.0.  You hear about the big customer that doesn't renew because they are moving to a competitor.  That's a 7.0.  But do you hear anything at all about opportunities where a salesperson:

  • doesn't get to the decision maker and is talking with the wrong people?  A 4.0
  • doesn't get a firm budget and proposes something the prospect can't pay for?  A 3.9
  • presents or demos to gain interest instead of having a conversation to uncover compelling reasons to buy?  A 4.2
  • is competing against an incumbent and is told the only thing that matters is price?  A 3.4
  • doesn't identify the competition?  A 3.1
  • doesn't tell you that a good opportunity has stalled in an early stage of the sales process?  A 2.9

There are dozens more, but you get the point.  You should know about these salesquakes!

If you have the right CRM solution, and it was configured properly, it would be alerting you to salesquakes in much the same way that eWeather HD alerts me to earthquakes.   If you are using one of the most popular solutions, you probably couldn't identify these quakes even if you were looking for them.

That's one of the things I like so much about Membrain.  There's a ready-to-use version with my Baseline Selling process, Visual Pipeline and methodology built right in that you can get here, or you can contact Membrain for their loaded version with everything you need to run a sales force.

We may not be able to stop earthquakes or even forecast them, but we can put an end to salesquakes and improve the accuracy of our sales forecasts.

Top Sales World and LiveHive have gotten together and published a terrific ebook on getting a jump start to your 2015.  You can download the book here.

You can download the latest issue of Top Sales Magazine here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales management, sales leadership, sales pipeline, sales forecasts, eweather HD

Keys to Improved Sales Performance - Part 4 of 4

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 05, 2014 @ 07:09 AM

sales force dominationThis is the last in a four-part series that ran this week.

See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here.  
See Part 3 here.

If you are like most folks, you were away for at least part of the summer, took as many long weekends as you could, and worked fewer hours on the days you actually did work.  As part of getting the work done, you deleted as many emails as you could where a reply wasn't required and visited fewer websites and blogs.

That means you missed a lot of what we were discussing this summer.  This series was written to catch you up in a hurry.

Four days, four categories, with related articles.  Easy.
 

The Sales Leadership Articles

Sales Leadership and sales management are the keys to successful sales performance.  Without good sales leadership, management, coaching, motivation and accountability, we have salespeople left to their own devices.  You've all seen that show before and for all but the top 6% of the sales population, that show is one that will cause you to change the channel and tune out because you can't stand what you're seeing.  Think Reality Television.
 

Starting with the Sales Management Team - Is it a Bad Decision? 

Why You Must Understand This about Desire for Sales Success 

Does Efficiency or DNA Help to Increase Sales? 

My Top 21 Keys to Help Your Sales Force Dominate Today 

United Airlines Uses Customer Service This Way to Impact Sales 

Fine Tune Your Sales Force as You Optimize Your Computer 
 

Please tell us what you think and share your opinions about how these sales leadership topics impact you, your thinking and your sales force. 
 

Image Credit Lightspring via Shutterstock.com

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales team

Top 5 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Under Pressure

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

 AngryCoachBefore I unveil the top 5 mistakes, you might be interested to know that last week, Top Sales World Magazine went from monthly to weekly.  I was featured on the cover, but I'm most hopeful that everyone will read Jonathan Farrington's interview with me.  He got me to be very outspoken about what's taking place right now in our industry and I believe that everyone will benefit from reading it.  View it online here.  

Now for the Top 5 Mistakes.  At a recent baseball tournament, a panicked coach watched as a 12-year-old did not not run as hard as he possibly could to first base.  Despite that, he reached on an error and the coach screamed so that everyone could hear, "Get your butt out of your head."  He also told the boy that in the next inning, he would be on the bench for not hustling.

The coach had become emotional and in doing so, he clearly overreacted, got the well-known expression backward, embarrassed the kid, and embarrassed himself. 

There are some sales lessons here.  

Many salespeople panic and become emotional when they hear certain objections, get asked certain questions, or are told certain things.  When this happens, several things can occur:

  • They may be completely unable to use their words (you might encourage a 2-year-old to, "Use your words.")
  • They may say something stupid.
  • They may say something completely unrelated.
  • They may become defensive.
  • They may become offensive.

Regardless of the type of reaction, when panicked, salespeople tend to lose control of the sales call, while their prospects become less comfortable with the idea of doing business with them.

There are some sales management lessons here too.

When a sales manager perceives that a salesperson may not be putting in the desired effort or time, or may not be as focused, he may not be able to bench or suspend the salesperson without being told where to stick it.  However, a discussion should take place so that the manager can learn why the desired behavior isn't there and offer some encouragement, coaching or counseling to improve performance.  If performance (effort) doesn't improve in the agreed upon timeframe, termination, not suspension, may be the appropriate course of action.

Many volunteer youth baseball coaches scream the outcomes they want, like, "Get on base!", instead of coaching kids on the approach they should take to reach base in their next at bat.

Many Sales Managers are guilty of similar mistakes when they instruct their salespeople to, "Go sell something."  Effective sales managers can pinpoint exactly why their salespeople are struggling and offer coaching to solve the problem.

Salespeople and Sales Managers alike must remain cool, unemotional, in the moment, and learn to respond rather than react.  When they become emotional, bad things happen.  The best way to stay in the moment is to stop thinking.  Just listen.  Don't think.  Don't strategize.  Don't plan.  Don't script a next move.  Don't get creative.  Don't engineer anything.  Don't worry.  

You know Nike's tagline, "Just do it."  Well, use my tagline, "Just don't."

You can always respond with something along the lines of, "How would you like me to address that?"  Listen to their instructions and respond to those.

Image Copyright: toonerman / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales mistakes, Top Sales World

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs 2021

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