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ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game


If you’re working harder and longer year after year to squeeze out your numbers, it’s time to do things differently. Instead of merely reacting to your permanently ringing cell phone, last-minute customer requests, and steady stream of employees who plop down by your desk to discuss their “issues,” it’s time to take control and become a proactive sales manager—one who effectively manages the limited resources of time and energy and leads the sales department with a clear, ...

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ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game

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If you’re working harder and longer year after year to squeeze out your numbers, it’s time to do things differently. Instead of merely reacting to your permanently ringing cell phone, last-minute customer requests, and steady stream of employees who plop down by your desk to discuss their “issues,” it’s time to take control and become a proactive sales manager—one who effectively manages the limited resources of time and energy and leads the sales department with a clear, future-focused plan.

ProActive Sales Management is your one-stop guide to completely rethinking and rebuilding your sales department for success. From what questions to ask during an interview…how to conduct a sales meeting…how to motivate your sales team…to what metrics you should use, this all-in-one resource walks you step by step through every key area of responsibility, explaining how to use proactive strategies to do more, better and faster—and avoid common mistakes that derail your competitors.

Whether you’ve recently joined the management ranks from a frontline sales position, or you’re a long-time pro at organizing sales teams, the powerful strategies and original tools in ProActive Sales Management help you escape the time-draining and energy-sapping reactive mode and lead your organization to new heights of productivity and success—proactively!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

One of Selling Power Magazine's Ten Best Books to Read in 2010.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814414569
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 7/15/2009
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 788,267
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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), More ProActive Sales Management (978-0-8144-1090-5), and co-author of Knock Your Socks Off Prospecting (978-0-8144-7285-9).

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Read an Excerpt

Preface to the Second Edition

‘‘If you don’t know how you are going to do one month into

the quarter, head for Las Vegas, You have better odds of making

money there than you do with your sales forecast.’’

—Skip Miller

Sales managers are still doing the wrong thing, same as they

were 10 years ago. Oh, some managers are very successful: Year

after year, they achieve their revenue goals, lead successful

teams, and enjoy successful careers. They are working late,

working weekends, traveling up to three weeks a month, and

they tell themselves they are doing the job. They are not. The job

is doing it to them.

They are reactive and cannot see any way out. So they work

like dogs. They end up looking dog-tired because of it. There

has got to be a better way, and of course there is. A simpler way

to be more effective than ever before. A ProActive way.

ProActive Sales Management clearly identifies what qualities

are needed for the successful sales manager. It provides a stepby-

step method you can use to change the way you manage—

and begin to manage ProActively. By reading and implementing

the tactics and processes in ProActive Sales Management, you will

be able to:

• Accomplish more in less time.

• Be ProActive and live in the future.

• Motivate salespeople to highly motivate themselves.

• Focus on A players and turn them into A players.

• Establish a ProActive culture and let the people manage


• Increase the effectiveness of your day-to-day management


• Decrease the time you spend on noneffective tasks and


• Predict and forecast the future with greater accuracy.

• Increase your ability to interview and hire correctly.

• Successfully implement a set of metrics that you can use

in a ProActive and behavior-predicting manner.

• Effectively use coaching and counseling techniques.

• Manage to metrics that make sense.

Why There Is a Burning Need for Managers to Change

Stephen Covey states, ‘‘I expand my personal freedom and influence

through being proactive.’’ He is right, and this kind of

thinking needs to be addressed within the organization that is

required to be forward thinking, freedom loving, and ProActive:

the customer-centric sales organization.

Sales managers, however, never receive the training they

need or require to do their job ProActively. Successful people

who are soon to be effective sales managers need to know what

is expected of them before they enter the world of sales management.

Current sales management needs to go ‘‘back to the basics’’

and focus on getting things done through others rather than

using the reactive characteristics and behaviors that got them

promoted into management, such as being a super salesperson.

It is the reactive nature of their sales job that permeates the sales

management ranks today, and that reactive culture has become

the norm.

These days, speed is the name of the game. It’s no longer

how many sales calls, but how many customer or prospect

touches. Not how long does a sale take, but how long are you

spending at each step. ProActive tools are no longer just nice to

have. ProActive selling is the way to sell in an increasing competitive,

cost-efficient manner.

Is being reactive the nature of the sales management beast?

Are most sales managers reactive? How much time do you

spend being reactive on a day-to-day basis? How reactive are

you? Let’s take a simple test to find out. Please circle the response

that applies to you.

QUIZ: How Reactive Are You?

1. How many voice mails, e-mails, or text messages do you get a


a) Less than 5

b) Between 5 and 10

c) Between 10 and 15

d) Between 15 and 25

e) More than 25

2. Of the last 10 sales situations you were involved in as a manager,

how many times did you have to interject a vital piece of

information or even ‘‘take over the call’’?

a) None

b) 1 to 3

c) 4 to 6

d) 7 to 8

e) All of them, are you kidding, that’s what I am there for!

3. Do you have:

a) One phone and one e-mail address

b) One phone, one e-mail address, and a cell phone

c) One phone, one e-mail address, two cell phones, and a


d) Office phone, cell phone, pager, two cell phones, e-mail

address (office), e-mail (home), fax machine, laptop, and a

palmtop or PDA or Blackberry

e) Multiple of any items of d above

4. If you ranked your sales team members on an A, B, or C scale

(with A being your top performers), which of the following

patterns most closely resembles the proportion of time you

spend with each group?

a) 80 percent on As, 10 percent on Bs, 10 percent on Cs

b) 60 percent on As, 30 percent on Bs, 10 percent on Cs

c) 40 percent on As, 30 percent on Bs, 30 percent on Cs

d) 30 percent on As, 20 percent on Bs, 50 percent on Cs

e) 10 percent on As, 20 percent on Bs, 70 percent on Cs

5. What percentage of your office time per week do you spend

planning one to three months or three to six months out?

a) 25 to 30 percent

b) 20 percent

c) 10 percent

d) 5 percent

e) Have to make the number today! No time for the future.

6. What percentage of the day do you spend with your Asalespeople?

a) 25 to 30 percent

b) 20 percent

c) 10 percent

d) 5 percent

e) Let them do what they do the best. I’ve got a ton of other


If you answered d or e to any or all of the items, you need

to be more ProActive, and this book is required reading for you.

Quit having useless meetings. Give up focusing internally

on past revenue numbers. Stop having those quarterly reviews

that focus on what happened the last three months. Quit guessing

on what you need to hire and fill those open head counts

within 30 days. Start being one step ahead of the game.

Three things before we begin.

• We use the terms ‘‘sales manager’’ and ‘‘sales management’’

interchangeably throughout the book. When we

say sales manager or sales management, we mean all

management levels, from first-line sales manager to executive

sales management.

• We spell the words ‘‘proactive’’ and ‘‘proactively’’ as Pro-

Active and ProActively to remind you that there is a new

way to manage: a ProActive way; a better and more effective

way. The tools in this book are going to change the

way you manage. The way you look at your job. The way

you think. It will put you one step ahead.

• This is the second revision to ProActive Sales Management,

and you will find very few changes from the original

book. But we made additions where they were needed to

adapt to the current times. And we added some new

ideas. If you already own the original, these additions

should make rereading this book worthwhile.

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Table of Contents




Chapter 1 ProActive Sales Manager—Defining the

New Breed of Sales Manager

What Is the Actual Role of the Sales Manager?

What Makes a Successful Salesperson?

What Makes a Successful Sales Manager?

What Are the Similarities Between the Two Skills?

What Tasks Does the Sales Manager Perform on a

Day-to-Day Basis?

What Expectations Are Placed on the Sales


Manage the Process, Not Just the People

The First Tool—Think Three to Six Months into

the Future

The Second Tool—Be ProActive

The Third Tool—Develop Objectives—M2O/t

The Fourth Tool—Call for Help

The Fifth Tool—Have Your People Effectively

Manage Themselves

How Do I Know Whether I Am an Effective


Grenade Walls

Two Rules of Leadership

Creating a Sales Culture Is Job

Chapter 2 Sales Cultures and the Ability to

Communicate Them

The Pygmalion Effect

Thinking ProActively—Thinking in the Future

Current Sales Culture

Current Company Culture

Sales Team Culture Nine to Twelve Months Out

Creating the Culture ProActively and

Implementing It

Rule 1: Be the Future

Rule 2: Think Culture Before Tactics

Rule 3: Go Backward

Rule 4: Create and Communicate Your M2O/t’s

Rule 5: The Value Pyramids—Advanced

FutureVision Workshop

You Can’t Ride the Bus

Chapter 3 Manage the Right Things—Time and


Managing Time

Maximize and Invest

The Sales Manager 80/20 Rule

Managing the A Players

Show Me the Money—An Insurance Policy

Planning—Focus on Tomorrow; Today Is Over


Measure It—Setting Measurable Objectives That


Revenue Numbers Are Reactive

Revenue Numbers Measure the Wrong Thing

Subjective and Objective Measurements

The Skip Miller Sales Management Success




Miller 17

Chapter 4 Finding and Recruiting the Best Sales


How to Interview and Hire the Right Salesperson

the First Time

The Law and the Interview

Questions You Cannot Ask

The Hiring Process

The Three Perspectives

Initial Homework

View Your Current Organization and Culture

Objective Sales Team Culture Assessment

Where to Find the Good Ones

Distribution Channels for Candidates



Prepare for the Interview

Objective and Subjective Measurements

The Interview Process

The A-B-C Interview Process

The Twenty-Minute Interview Process

A Simple But Effective Interview Process:


Interview—Sales Call

Tools for the Sales Interview

Who Closes Whom

Characteristics of a Great Salesperson

ProActive Reference Checks

The Offer That Works 122

The Subjective Interview: The Final Assessment

Celebrate Success: Closing the Deal

Chapter 5 Corrective Action

Starting a Corrective Action Process

The Corrective Action Process


Written Warning

Use of Metrics

Final Written Warning


Termination Guidelines

It’s Not Your Responsibility

Coaching and Counseling Through the Process

Final Thoughts

Chapter 6 ProActive Management Skills

Coaching and Counseling: How to Be a Master

Communicator in Any Organization

Coaching and Counseling

The Coaching/Counseling Wheel

The Coaching Sales Call

The Coaching Call

The Joint Sales Call

The Unexpected Sales Call

Focus on the A Players

Coaching and Counseling Your Boss Effectively

Motivation—Know Why People Do What They Do

and Be One Step Ahead


Reward and Recognition

Learn-and-Grow Challenges

Motivational Direction

Using Technology to Communicate

Chapter 7 If You Can’t Measure It, Why Do It?

Track the Maybes

Keep the Insurance

Manage to One Sheet of Paper: The 30-60-90 Report

30-60-90 Rules

The 30-60-90 Report

Effective Reports in Ten Minutes a Week

Getting Reports in on Time

What Kind of a Manager Are You?

Expense Management

Chapter 8 Territory Planning, Compensation, and


Strategically Deploying the Sales Team

The ProActive Sales Matrix

Dead Zone

Maintain Zone

Red Zone


Strategic vs. Tactical Compensation

ProActive Compensation Guidelines

Compensation and Territory Timing

The Law of Compensation Plan Timing

The Revenue Curve

Stack Rankings

Sales Training

The Five Sales Competencies

Create Leverage—Rewards and Praise

Stay Focused or Pay Free Money

Chapter 9 Sales Meetings

When and How to Have Successful Sales Meetings

Agenda Planning

Time Planning

Content Planning

Optional Meetings

Chapter 10 Create the ProActive Action Plan

The Coaching Wall of Principles

Setting Goals and Making Them Work

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Goals

Measurable Goals


Go and Make a Difference

The A-B-C Bell Curve Applies to Managers as


The Support Structure Back at the Office

Chapter 11 The Technology of Sales

Decreasing Order Time

Increasing the Salesperson’s Ability to Sell

Increasing Breadth and Depth

The New Process

The New Dashboard

Getting Things Done in a Team Sell

Getting Things Done with Your Customers

Discipline and the Will to Change


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