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

New Data: Will Salespeople Hit Quota When Sales Managers Coach and Sell?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 07, 2022 @ 06:11 AM

Astros win 2022 World Series: Houston clinches second title as Yordan  Alvarez's Game 6 homer ousts Phillies - CBSSports.com

I was reviewing stats from the 2022 World Series between the World-Champion Houston Astros and the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies might have had a two-man wrecking crew in Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper but it wasn't nearly enough. Over the entire 6-game series, the Astros' batting average was 43% higher (good), their pitchers' ERA (earned runs allowed per 9 Innings Pitched) was 26% lower (good), WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) was 19% lower (good), they scored 22% more runs (good) and that led to their winning twice as many games and on Saturday, a world-series victory.  There was a clear correlation between 4 baseball KPI's and the outcome of the World Series.  

Pivoting to sales, and staying with correlations and KPI's, could there be one between how sales managers spend their time and why so few salespeople hit quota?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has data on approximately 250,000 sales managers from tens of thousands of sales team evaluations.  Sales managers are expected to spend 50% of their time coaching salespeople but the data proves that it is nowhere close to that!  The average percentage of time actually spent coaching salespeople is less than 18% or, during a 40-hour week, just 7.2 hours.  Most of what sales managers consider coaching does not really qualify as coaching and you can read about that here.  How are salespeople supposed to improve and hit quota when sales managers continue to treat coaching with the same disdain they have for taking out the trash and visiting the dentist?

Instead of spending their time on coaching, sales managers are spending too much of their time on personal sales.  Sales managers with fewer than 5 salespeople may be required to carry a quota but generally speaking, sales managers are expected to spend no more than 5% of their time selling. OMG's data shows that the percentage of time that sales managers sell is closer to 13%.

Why do they sell instead of having more coaching conversations?  There are several reasons:

  • Compensation - Sales Managers are typically paid more on their personal sales than team sales so there's need and greed.
  • Quota - When Sales Managers worry about hitting quota and lack confidence that their salespeople will hit quota, the one thing they believe they can control is their own ability to sell their way to quota. 
  • Coaching - The reality is that Sales Managers don't enjoy coaching because most of them are not very good at it.  Most of them were promoted to Sales Managers because they were such good salespeople so they gravitate towards what they know and what they are good at.

The time spent coaching and selling adds up to only 31% so it's important to know that most sales managers waste their time on strategy, organizational issues, crises, keeping salespeople motivated, and holding salespeople accountable.  It's clear that when sales managers spend 13% of their time selling and only 18% coaching, most salespeople fail to hit quota most of the time.

Baseball has a manager AND coaches so the roles are well defined.  The manager manages the game while the coaches coach up the players on their baseball skills and the coaching occurs before games, during games, and after games.  In sales, managers take their manager titles too literally. As a solution, I recommend that companies hire sales coaches who understand from the outset that their only role is to coach before calls/meetings, during calls/meetings, and after calls/meetings.

The problem will be one of expertise.  A change in roles or not, the data shows that 82% of all sales managers are not well-suited for sales management and fewer than 10% are not good at coaching salespeople.  While newly hired sales coaches will be more likely to do the coaching, the actual coaching will still suck.

It may be time to train an entire new generation of sales coaches!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales managers, omg, objective management group, sales management role, how sales managers spend their time

When Your Sales Opportunity Stalls, Do You Call Roadside Assistance?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 18, 2021 @ 14:10 PM

flat-tire

We were driving on the highway when the dashboard indicated low pressure in the left rear tire.  That can't be good!  As we exited the highway eight miles later, the tire was flat and we were able to drive another mile to a safe location and call roadside assistance.  Until that moment, I wasn't aware that the car did not have a spare tire but was equipped with a tire inflation repair kit instead.  Roadside assistance told us that the lack of a spare tire meant the car would be towed to their nearest dealer.

There are typically three possibilities when you have a flat tire:

  1. Change the tire if you have a spare and know how to do it or have roadside do it for you
  2. Use the tire inflation repair kit and keep the tire inflated long enough to get to your mechanic
  3. Get towed.

In my opinion, getting towed is the worst possible option and the last thing we want to deal with and in the waning days of a pandemic, they'll take your car but not you, so that doesn't solve anything.  Your car is still broken, you are still stranded, and you are temporarily separated from your beloved vehicle.

When salespeople get into trouble and an opportunity stalls out or goes off the rails, their sales managers are the sales version of roadside assistance.  In the context of a sales opportunity, there are typically three possibilities:

  1. Change the tire - put another salesperson on the opportunity
  2. Repair the tire - the salesperson does enough damage control to keep the opportunity alive until they can get coaching from their sales manager
  3. Call Roadside and the sales manager calls or shows up to get the opportunity back on track if possible

If you agree that a tow would be your last possible option, then it should follow that a rescue from a sales manager would be equally bad.  The prospect loses respect for the salesperson and will only speak with the sales manager after the rescue. Salespeople learn to lean on and use their sales managers as crutches, salespeople never become strong enough to handle these situations on their own, and sales managers fail to develop strong teams.

According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments on more than two million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders, only 18% of all sales managers are well-suited for the role and only 7% are actually good at coaching. We know from this article on being an underdog in sales that the bottom half of all salespeople totally suck.

When you combine those three pathetic data points, there are a few insights that pop to the surface.

Most sales managers are a lot better at selling than they are at managing and coaching and are at their best when salespeople call for roadside assistance.  That explains their universal desire to accept those calls without pushing back, coaching and challenging their salespeople to do better.  Salespeople improve when they have no choice but to improve!

Most sales managers actually believe it's their job to be the hero and that is one of the biggest impediments to developing strong salespeople.

There are far more salespeople whose opportunities go off the rails and need help but who end up following one of three even worse scenarios than calling their sales managers:

  1. At the time, they lacked the situational awareness to realize the opportunity went sideways on them so they follow up as if nothing bad happened.
  2. They realized the opportunity was going sideways but chose to use the tire repair kit instead of calling for roadside assistance
  3. They knew it went sideways but lacked the commitment to call for roadside or use the tire repair kit and simply gave up.

These scenarios play out every day, on every sales team, at every company, all over the world.  Isn't it time to raise the bar on both sales mangers and salespeople, train them up, coach them up, and stop accepting so much mediocrity?

Join me on October 26 for a free 45-minute introduction to Baseline Selling and learn how to avoid the mistakes that most salespeople make, shorten your sales cycle, differentiate from the competition, and improve your win rate.  Register here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales managers, ineffective salespeople, ineffective sales manager, OMG Assessment

Sales Managers are Sometimes Like Cashiers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

curry

At lunchtime one day, my curry-chicken salad tasted so bad that I returned it to the deli next door.  The owner asked what was wrong and when I told him, he tasted it, said it was fine, and get this - he returned the uneaten portion of my salad into the bowl in the display case.  Yuck!  And I never went back.  Until yesterday.  I was desperate and didn't have enough time to go anywhere else, but I knew enough to stay away from the specialty salads.

The crowds that used to line up were gone.  The staff was about half the size.  The menu, and specifically, the browning chicken salads in the display case were still there.  The owner was operating the cash register, calling names when their meals were ready, and taking their payments.  Instead of working on his business, fixing what was wrong, making much needed changes and urging customers back into his deli, he was handling the money - the one thing that any unskilled worker could do.

He reminded me of so many sales managers I have met during the past 30 years.

Instead of working on the sales force, working with their salespeople, developing their people, fixing what was wrong, guiding and directing, coaching and motivating, recruiting and holding salespeople accountable, they were spending their time doing busy work, running reports, sending emails, collecting call reports, creating quotes and proposals, approving pricing, approving incoming orders, watching the sales numbers, prodding their salespeople to close more deals, and doing simple administrative tasks that a sales assistant or coordinator could do.

Of course, the most important of these sales management functions is coaching.  Coaching salespeople should account for 50% of a sales manager's time.  Coaching salespeople has the greatest impact on development and revenue.  Yet only 15% of all sales managers spend even 25% of their time coaching.  Instead of focusing on what has the greatest impact on their business, sales managers are often like the deli owner - just standing at the register and taking the money.

Speaking of coaching, next Wednesday, I'll be leading a Top Sales Academy session on "How to Master the Art of Coaching Salespeople".  It's free to register and attend and it would be terrific to have you on the webinar!  Please use this link to register for the Noon ET session on October 8.

Speaking of recruiting, last week I led a webinar/tour of the "Magic Behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment".  If you weren't able to attend, you can see the slides here and watch the 20-minute presentation, recorded live, here.

As long as I'm sharing links, the latest issue of Top Sales Magazine is now available here.  This issue includes an article of mine that you'll want to read on Why Sales Leaders Continue to Hire the Wrong Salespeople.

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, sales managers

More than Half of All Sales Managers Should Consider....

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 19, 2009 @ 09:05 AM

After posting this article two weeks ago, showing the percentage of salespeople who are not trainable, who shouldn't be in sales, and who are elite, it was inevitable that I would be asked to post similar statistics for sales managers.

While the number of salespeople we have assessed is greater than 400,000, the number for sales managers is closer to 50,000 - still a more than adequate sample size. 

(Speaking of sample sizes, I saw a promotion yesterday from a new sales assessment company and all of their claims are based on a sample size of 150 salespeople.  And of course, despite their "rigorous", "comprehensive" build, the actual assessment, despite strong marketing claims to the contrary, is based on a non-sales context.) But hey, it's 5 tests in one - that should make up for it's lack of context...

Sales Managers who should not be in sales management.....18%
Sales Managers who are not trainable................................34%
Sales Managers who are elite............................................. 7%

So there are twice as many sales managers in need of redeployment as salespeople, and 10% more sales managers than salespeople who are untrainable (they know it all?).  That means 52% of all sales managers, more than half, should consider doing something else - like selling! About the same percentage who qualify as elite.  It's such a shame that the percentage of elite is so small, but then again, if it was much bigger, they wouldn't be elite, would they?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales managers, sales test, salespeople, personality assessment

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