The Single Biggest Impact On Sales This Year!

7 Mar

As a CEO or top sales officer you may be the cause of sub-optimal sales results.  How?

Field Sales Leaders generally have multiple accountabilities, each one competing for their time;

  • Revenue – overall production, margins, pipeline and making joint sales calls.
  • Predictability – forecast, CRM adoption and usage.
  • Cost of Sales – time utilization, resource application, pursuit costs.
  • Sales Development – quota attainment, turnover ratio, ramp up time, coaching, training and general development of team members.

Unfortunately the Time Management Matrix in Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” comes back to haunt us again.  In case your misplaced your copy, the third habit is putting first things first.  My overall take was that we are always reponding to those items that have a due date (urgency, but little importance). and in doing so we steal time from more important tasks simply because there is no due date associated with them.  Guess which of the tasks above does not have a time frame urgency attached to it?  Give up? 

If you guessed coaching, training and general development of team members you would be right.  So if the top sales officer of any company want’s to know the one thing that will have the single biggest impact on sales THIS YEAR it would be to free up time, and demand that time to be invested in assessing, coaching and developing all team members.  Okay, so you’ll get around to it next quarter, right?

In the movie “12 O’Clock High” (1940) General Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) is assigned to a poorly performing bomber squadron.  The group was demotivated, and their current leader mired himself in administrative duties when he wasn’t busy commiserating with his group.  The first thing Savage did was to get out of the office and fly lead in the missions.  He didn’t do this to become a member of the team, or to show what a good pilot he was.  He did this to find out where the team’s gaps were and then lead them back into high performance.

General Frank Savage (in his first address to the squardron)  : “There will be a briefing for a practice mission at 1100 this morning. That’s right, practice. I’ve been sent here to take over what has come to be known as a hard luck group. Well, I don’t believe in hard luck. So we’re going to find out what the trouble is”.

So, Chief Sales Officers, if you want what ever the optimal results are for this year think about this option.  Clear out the in-baskets of your field managers and insist they invest no less than 50% of their time assessing, coaching and training their sales people.  It is more important this year than ever before.  Do it this week.  No!  Do it today!

7 Responses to “The Single Biggest Impact On Sales This Year!”

  1. Rita Ashley March 7, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    Terrific post. Sometimes we forget to pay attention to the basics…reviewing what we do, how we do it against what works what doesn’t is truly job one. Good quote. I may steal it.
    Rita Ashley, Job Search Coach
    My clients get hired.

  2. steven Rosen March 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    I agree with you premise of getting your sales managers out in the field. That’s how they generate revenue!


  3. Michael Grant March 7, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    Your point about leadership is extremely well taken.

    For the top 10% who are blowing out their numbers, a sales leader must simply run interference and clear internal impediments to allow these top perfomers to continue producing.

    For the bottom 10% who are beyond help, a sales leader must weed out these poorest peforming members – for their own sake.

    But a sales leader’s best work will be done with the large percentage of the team that exists between those two poles, helping take their performance to a higher level than they can achieve on their own.

    Coaching and training gives these team members the tools to improve, to take average performance and and turn it into quota busting achievement.

    Training costs money and time. But sales people who are given the tools to succeed become loyal employees. These employees provide predictable revenue, esprit de corps, and contribute to a corporate culture.

    The ROI is measured in less turnover, lower recruitment costs, avoidance of the lost prductivity that accompanies the ramp up of a new hire.

    Bottom line: it costs less to bring an 80% producer to 120% than it does to keep trying to hire the next sales prodigy.

    And your customers and potential customers notice the revolving door.

  4. Scott Zahn March 8, 2009 at 3:47 am #

    Another excellent post. Front line sales managers simply spend too little time coaching their team. Unfortunately, most have never been trained on how to do this correctly. Tools and techniques are sparse and not found in SFA or CRM systems. But the seeds of great results always come back to quality coaching. Open this morning’s sports page anywhere in the world – the practical evidence will be there consistently.

  5. Scott Schonitzer March 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    GREAT ARTICLE!! Focus on maximizing your current investment in your sales team! Sales Managers might be surprised that with a little proactive coaching could produce better results. Plus, MAKE YOUR TEAM PRACTICE what they do. One hour per week of focused sales training or role playing will equal significant returns on productivity, moral and so on.

  6. Greg Basham March 17, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    Great thoughts here. As a senior mens’ soccer coach who worked as an assistant to a former pro coach and player, we had a saying that fits your points:
    “Our off field preparation mirrors our on field performance.” What we meant was everything from practices and game day preparation. You just can’t turn on the switch and be at peak performance!

  7. William Rikh April 2, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    Greg, I could not agree more. I am not a sales person but do manage a large team of people within the Operations of a large company and I would say the same holds good for me too. If we also remember Coveys 7th habit..”Sharpen the Saw”, I feel, taking the time to coach and give constructive feedback also has valuable returns. Thank you for posting this, will step on it immediately !!

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