Managers say they want to build a sales organization that has the qualities of speed, agility and skill. One that is sophisticated, responsive, high performing and above all successful. But is that what they are getting?
The reality is that getting organisation-wide agreement about what must be done to accelerate sales can be a challenge. Even if there is agreement, translating it into action can be tedious and slow.
No role carries with it more pressure to perform than that of the sales manager. That requires certain qualities in a manager, in particular a high level of confidence, drive and determination.
As the pack leader when it comes to selling, the sales manager must show that he, or she is in control. Nothing less is expected of them. Yet dig beneath the surface of the typical Alpha Male (or Alpha Female) sales manager and you will find that there are often unresolved issues bubbling away beneath that external veneer of control.
Few sales managers live in a perfect world, or work in a perfect company. They have learned to live with the pressure of sales targets, increasingly demanding customers and more aggressive competitors. There is little point complaining about these factors – they are simply part of the job description.
What Bugs Sales Managers?
So, what is it that bugs sales managers? Well, when they take you into their confidence, many managers will reveal a range of bug-bears. That is what they see as unnecessary yet often intractable obstacles to greater sales success. It is worth noting many of these are internal, rather than external in nature.
1. The struggle for recognition, appreciation, or power – many managers feel that although they are in the firing line when it comes to results, they don’t get the kudos, backing, or support that is needed. This isn’t just an issue of politics and influence, because it tends to have a direct bearing on resource allocation to sales and sales support. Underpinning this issue is the next factor.
2. Poor teamwork in support of sales, for example:
3. Strategic anxiety, for example where the sales manager is concerned about the growth direction of the business:
4. People – Performance Issues
Almost every sales manager is concerned about the performance of at least one member of the sales team. Often this performance issue is not new, it has been around for a long time but has often been creatively avoided. Perhaps the manager lacks the authority, the determination, or even the courage to bring the issue to the fore and have it dealt with. The situation may have festered for so long that both parties are now entrenched and a battle of wills in in play.
That is because there are often complications involved, the impact on the rest of the team, the legacy of the past, relationships with others in the organisation or perhaps a customer, or partner, dependence on the person for specific information, or perhaps even a legal issue. The result is that the manager lives with a situation that isn’t just unsatisfactory, but can consumer lots of the managers time and energy.
Why do these issues frustrate managers and dog sales? Well, while managers are busy managing their teams they often overlook the requirements of managing their wider organisational context. It is not enough to coach the sales team, sales managers need to coach all those who have an impact on sales. That includes the CEO and the COO!
Sales managers need to be more strategic, more political and more Machiavellian! They must bring all those issues that have the potential to impact on sales performance into the open. They must communicate and consult more widely with their management colleagues. In short they must sell their sales agenda more effectively.