But what about the sales manager? What do we do to make sure we’re enabling them to be productive in their role? Beyond saying “hit this number,” the expectations of today’s sales manager are nebulous.
This is the first article of a three-part series on sales manager productivity. I’ll start by sharing where and why most organizations don’t actually know who their B and C sales managers are, nor do they understand the hidden cost they bring to organizational performance.
First, here are a few things an A-performing sales manager will net an organization:
- New hires ramped more quickly
- More B and C sales reps to goal
- More committed opportunities to close
Note how these benefits go beyond just hitting a number. They describe a sales organization with the following:
- Excellent execution against the sales process
- A supportive team environment
- Confidence in qualification and forecasting
But what happens when you put B and C reps on a team with B and C managers? These managers may make their number on the backs of their A players, but they will not move your B and C sellers’ performance. The risk extends beyond this quarters result to future quarters, where it becomes harder to make up the gap.
The Plight of the B and C Sales Manager
Having been there ourselves, and now having spoken to thousands of them, we have a lot of empathy for this role.
Here’s what the overwhelmed (and usually underdeveloped) sales manager ends up doing: They focus on late-stage opportunities. They ride their star sellers. They take over deals. It’s all about the short run — how do I hit my looming number?
As an industry, this is where that mindset is landing us:
(study: 2016 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Study)
Year over year, the number of reps making their sales numbers is going down. It’s getting worse. It’s currently hovering over about 50%. That’s half of our sales reps not making their number. It is a big problem.
B and C sales managers don’t address this in a meaningful way.
When enough of your sales team doesn’t make its number, you end up with higher attrition, retention issues, and you have trouble hiring and recruiting. This cascade of negative side effects results from the sales manager not focusing on the right problems — or in other words — not using their time productively.
Getting more sales people to their number is hard work. It requires coaching, and specifically, a plan to observe sellers in action, assess the gaps and strengths, and coach to improved performance. Unfortunately, most B and C managers deemphasize the most critical point of seller observation: the sales call.
Part 2 in the Sales Manager Productivity series will be all about how sales leaders can formulate a plan to coach their B and C managers.
Until then, think on what your sales organization looks like. Have you thought about the behaviors that differentiates your A, B, and C managers?
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