More ProActive Sales Management: Avoid the Mistakes Even Great Sales Managers Make -- And Get Extraordinary Results

More ProActive Sales Management: Avoid the Mistakes Even Great Sales Managers Make -- And Get Extraordinary Results

by William "Skip" Miller

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Praise for ProActive Sales Management:

“ProActive Sales Management is jammed with useful ideas and worth the attention of a manager trying to overhaul the sales culture.”— Globe & Mail

Many sales professionals—even terrific ones—make the transition into management think­ing they’ve already got all the skills,


Praise for ProActive Sales Management:

“ProActive Sales Management is jammed with useful ideas and worth the attention of a manager trying to overhaul the sales culture.”— Globe & Mail

Many sales professionals—even terrific ones—make the transition into management think­ing they’ve already got all the skills, knowledge, and experience they’ll need to direct a sales team or run an entire sales organization. But whether you’re responsible for one rep or thousands, being a great sales manager is a whole different ballgame than being a great salesperson. One bad decision can mean permanently lost opportunities—or worse. Much worse.

Skip Miller’s More ProActive Sales Management, picking up where his best-selling ProActive Sales Management left off, is designed to help you avoid the common pitfalls and costly mistakes that untold thousands of other sales managers—both new and experienced—make year in and year out. Written with wit and packed with wisdom, this ultra-practical book highlights more than twenty big-time blunders you must avoid. With concrete advice and easy-to-use tools, More ProActive Sales Management helps you:

—Manage both your team and its individual members more effectively

—Motivate everyone (yes, they do need it)

—Deal with failures quickly—and learn from them

—Reduce paperwork—without losing the information and documentation you really do need

—Forecast more accurately—without holding your team to needlessly precise percentages

—And build a ProActive sales culture throughout your entire sales organization

Whether your company’s sales efforts are humming along, need a tweak, or are desperate for a complete overhaul, the first step in the right direction is to eliminate all the many possible wrong moves. More ProActive Sales Management is an indispensable guide to avoiding every conceivable mistake, great and small.


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Read an Excerpt

M I S T A K E #1

We Are a Prospecting Machine!

“Of course my salespeople prospect. That’s what they

are paid to do. At least that’s what I tell everyone.”

Reality is a hard state to deal with. Rationalization is so much easier. Even people

who aren’t in sales know it is the salespeople’s job to go

find customers. Who else? Marketing generates leads,

customer service keeps the customers happy, shipping

makes sure the customers get what they ordered,

finance collects the money, and so on

throughout the organization. It’s up to the sales department

to go find and close new business.

Sales management agrees. Sales management

creates compensation plans, contests, and rewards

for salespeople who go out and find new business. They

have 33 motivational speeches on why their organizations

have to go broader and deeper in current accounts, as well as take business

away from the competition. They spend gobs of money on training

their sales teams to get new business. Their companies are counting on sales

to get new revenue streams from new customers. Someone needs to tell this to

the salespeople, because:

Salespeople hate to prospect.

Take a look at the salesperson in Figure 1.1. She’s

friendly, has a great smile, and seems stress-free. She’s

having fun, right? Prospecting’s cool—and everyone

always calls back. Yeah, right. Let’s get real. The

fact is, salespeople would rather do anything than

cold call—and they usually do.

Sales management doesn’t want to alienate

the sales team. It wants to empathize with them.

After all, the managers were once in the same

place; they too issued the same proclamations:

“Marketing needs to get us better leads.”

“The market is very competitive right now.”

“Getting new business is getting tougher and tougher.”

Making these proclamations is a huge mistake. Huge. However, sales management

has been known to listen to these voices and:

• Develop a prospecting-only sales department, also known as

a lead-generation team. (This is different from a qualifying team,

which works quite well for passive prospecting—leads that come

into your organization.)

• Compensate salespeople more for generating new business.

• Actually believe that retaining business is harder than getting new

business and designing rewards accordingly.

• Measure and reward for overall revenue and not break out new

sales to new customers as an important company goal.

• Designate two groups of salespeople in the organization: Hunters

and Farmers. Hunters hunt for new business, and Farmers maintain

current business. (Great idea, until your competitor sets its Hunters

against your Farmers. Then, of course, you have to deal with Trappers

and Skinners—way too much classification.)

Sales management beware: Some of this organizational thinking may lead

you to make decisions that will come back and haunt you.


Progressive sales management in successful companies knows that customers


“How did my pipeline dry up?”

“I thought my hunters were hunting.”

“When I looked at it, my salespeople were using less than

5 percent of their time proactively prospecting.”

“I asked my sales team, ‘Who has asked for a reference

in the past 60 days?’ No one raised a hand, and the

prospecting funnel is empty at the top for what reason?”

In addition, sales managers know that most customers do not buy all they

can from one vendor, because they are not aware of the scope of the problems

that exist in other departments within their own organizations. Opportunity


Calling high—that is, calling on people who are in upper management—

with questions that let prospects think broad and wide within their organizations,

and then creating a culture around this solid prospecting effort, takes

sales management years to figure out. Let there be no mistake: The sales team

that stops prospecting within its own customer base loses.


It is important to know the difference between lead generation and prospecting.

Lead generation is the act of targeting resources. It means figuring out where

to hunt, what gun to hunt with, what to hunt, and when to hunt. Prospecting

is the act of hunting. It means going through many fields and bushes to flush out

the game, finding the game, taking aim, and pulling the trigger.

Prospecting = Hunting

A good lead-generation machine is no excuse for a lack of prospecting.

Last time I checked, game doesn’t just fall from the sky or knock on the door

of the hunting lodge and say, “Here I am. Shoot me.” The Internet has done

a good job getting some game to knock on the door, but the really big game

is still out there.

- Prospecting Machine: A company in which the sales department is

doing well.

- Nonprospecting Machine: A company characterized by a weak sales forecast,

a bad sales forecast, a weak pipeline, longer sales cycles, is closing

bad business, or is closing deals based on price because the customer

does not see value.

Sales teams, and especially individual salespeople, have the right to expect

the company to do its part in lead generation. This could range from efforts

to generate potential target markets and prospects, to qualifying teams

(Q-teams) that qualify hundreds of leads, working them down to the most

likely—the golden nuggets for salespeople to pursue. Great sales organizations

have committed resources, up to 20 percent of their sales budgets, to lead generation,

be it marketing dollars or sales dollars.

Taking the hunting analogy a bit further, you’ll need to do some preparation

before you grab your gun and head for the woods. Without putting together

a strategy and culture around prospecting, you are looking at Mistake

#1: Assuming that salespeople prospect, when they don’t. Salespeople and

sales teams need to generate leads. In fact, the sales team’s focus on prospecting

is the most measurable item of success or failure that I have seen inside of


You get the point, right? The biggest mistake you can make is not to have

a prospecting and lead-generation culture. The second biggest mistake is to

have one but not measure it. You have to measure prospecting even more than

you measure revenue.


Sales management must do one or more of the five “its” to ensure an aggressive

and effective prospecting culture exists.

1. Measure It

If you can’t measure it, why do it? Your sales team is not above being measured


• The number of sales calls or qualified leads per week

• The number of executive prospecting calls or leads/month

• The number of prospecting attempts/connects/meetings per


• The number of new deals per week/month/quarter

• The number of new deals in a current, installed, base account per


• The number of new deals above $X per quarter

Sales managers who do not have a dashboard metric for prospecting are

20 to 30 percent less effective than the ones who are. This is a big number

and should grab your attention.

Prospecting metrics need to be tailored to your individual situations. But

the point is, measure it.

2. Reward It

The saying is true:

“It’s rarely the size of the reward that is most important;

it’s the accolades and the praise that come with the

reward that end up being of most value.”

How are you rewarding your sales team today? On what goals? Revenue

and percent of quota to be sure, but what other rewards can you offer so the

members of your sales team will feel good when they do something you

want them to do?

• Do you have a gong or a bell people can ring when they close a

new piece of business? (The Internet has gong e-mails.)

• Do you have your president personally acknowledge every newcustomer

deal? Do you have your president call the new customer’s

president or owner to thank that person for his or her business?

• Can you start your weekly sales meetings off with a “New Business

Report” or something that recognizes the people who have


• Do you have a “New Business Thermometer”? That’s where the

salespeople who have brought in new business during a month get

their photos on the New Business board. The salesperson’s picture

gets placed at a higher level for every new customer the salesperson

obtains. This is great for the salespeople who achieve and also for

those whose pictures never leave the “Holding Area” (or whatever

you want to call the bottom of the thermometer). It’s better than a

$50 check. Oh, and place the thermometer in the company cafeteria

so everyone can see which people are doing their jobs, and

which people are not.

3. Assign It

Meet the Author

William "Skip" Miller (Los Gatos, CA) is president of M3 Learning, a sales and management development company, and an instructor for numerous AMA sales management training programs. He is the author of ProActive Selling (978-0-8144-0764-6), ProActive Sales Management (978-0-8144-0545-1), and Ultimate Sales Tool Kit (978-0-8144-7400-6).

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