The Toughest Part of Sales Management
Being a sales leader is no small task. Being a great sales leader is a true accomplishment. Responsibilities are numerous, nevertheless, consistently delivering ever increasing revenues at a profitable level is required. Time is rarely on your side, and you can never rest on the accomplishments of yesterday.
How do great sales leaders do it? They address the most difficult part of the role: variation.
It is variation that causes losses. It is variation that leads to dissatisfied customers. It is variation that confuses the sales team. It is variation that prevents practices from becoming “best practices.” And, it is variation in the skill level and experience of the sales team that eats up all of the sales manager’s time.
The fact is that every sales manager is faced with varying degrees of talent and experience on their team; what do successful sales leaders do to reduce this variation?
Lean Six Sigma and other quality programs have all proven that by minimizing variation in any process, quality increases. The same is true for sales. All too often, organizations don’t understand that sales is a process and too many sales leaders allow each sales person’s unique style “art” to drive results and/or they hire a team with prior experience to get the job done.
Often, managers complain that they don’t have the right people, when in fact, they don’t have the right (or any) processes to make their people successful. Translation — too much variation! Successful sales leaders ensure the following exists to minimize variation in the sales organization:
- Defined approach for classifying the right client for each business segment
- Clear language for communicating the value that your company delivers to each segment
- Process for constant identification of where a potential customer is their buying process
- Process for uncovering what you don’t know about a potential customer’s decision path
- Common “sales” training and language
- Process for keeping and expanding within current customers
- Key Performance Indicators from which they assess, coach and reward the team
At Butler Street, we know that the right processes can help you create your own sales superstars. We work with sales leaders and teams across many industries to perfect the client development processes. Through the implementation of ClientFirst Acquisition, Retention and Expansion best practices, our clients are outperforming their markets and have experienced the following:
“Changing our selling process to align directly with the buying process has led to more effective meetings. Which means more effective selling. Which means more sales for us and more ROI for the customer.” — Kris Talley, VP Sales and Marketing, Logo Chair
“It comes down to process identification, management and discipline. Too many firms today do not have a solid sales or deal management process. I have learned this the hard way despite growing several successful businesses. To counter this sales management difficulty, we have implemented a defined process and have gone through the stages of ensuring our deal team has bought into the process. This process is what we affectionately know as the ‘SupplyLogic Way.’ While I will not share all of the details about this process, I can tell you the executives at Butler Street were instrumental in driving us to our concluded method.” — Frank Olivieri, President and COO, SupplyLogic
"Changing our selling process to align directly with the buying process has put us in position to ...Become the Only Choice... Having a clear understanding of the process is a game changer, it allows us to have a better understanding of our customer needs so we can service them better and after that financial rewards will follow.” — Karla Dougherty, VP Hospitality Staffing Solutions
“Working together with Butler Street, we implemented and trained our entire sales force on a customized opportunity diagnostic tool. This tool provides a systematic approach to managing the sales process in a very structured manner while allowing our salespeople the flexibility to leverage their sales skills. This provides a fair and consistent manner with which to evaluate performance success and more importantly, the likelihood of moving these opportunities to contract. It also provides great insight into patterns or trends that may exist, both positive and negative, and allows our leadership the opportunity to proactively adjust messaging, value propositions and coaching strategy.” — Joel Schaffer, SVP Specialists On Call
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Mary Ann McLaughlin serves as a Managing Partner at Butler Street, a leading management consulting, training and research firm that focuses on client and talent development. Prior to Butler Street, she served in executive roles for 13 years including chief operating officer, president and managing director. A Six Sigma Champion certified executive, McLaughlin leverages her robust process background with 32 years of sales and operational experience.
A recreational triathlete, McLaughlin has completed three marathons (Chicago 2x, Marine Corps) and numerous triathlons. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Bradley University.