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Today’s sales managers face a tough challenge. They must be more productive than ever while relying more on partners and technology with reduced resources in the field. And with fewer, larger customers, every decision becomes more important—and riskier. The Sales Manager’s Success Manual provides the critical information sales managers need to succeed in this increasingly difficult job.
Covering fundamental sales management topics including compensation, forecasting, and motivation, along with more advanced topics such as dealing with internal politics, understanding generational issues, managing up, and developing intuition, the book shows readers how to:
• hire the best sales force
• foresee potential surprises
• help reps make better decisions
• save time and resources
• target accurately for better results
• work with the CEO and the rest of the company
Packed with savvy advice, enlightening case studies, and no-nonsense know-how, The Sales Manager’s Success Manual is a one-of-a-kind book no sales manager should be without.
The Sales Force
When you get right down to it, one of the most important tasks
of a manager is to eliminate his people’s excuse for failure.
Most companies find the cost of going to market is their secondlargest
expense—just behind COGS, the cost of goods sold. Depending
on the mix of goods and services, companies may spend
up to 40% of revenue marketing their products. As CSO, you are a
steward of this investment. In your role, just a few strategic decisions
will add to or subtract from the company’s return on its investment.
One of your first decisions is whether the current sales force is
adequate or inadequate for its mission. Do you or don’t you have
the right people?
According to Caliper, an organization specializing in recruitment
and selection, 80% of salespeople are in the wrong jobs. After a
study of 78,000 sales representatives, Caliper concluded that 55%
should not be in sales at all, and that 25% were in the wrong kind
If Caliper’s findings describe your salespeople, you have a
Hindenburg Omen on your hands. You have also discovered an area
where your leadership as an agent of change will make you a valuable
How to Assess Your New Team
How do you determine if your reps and staff are a match for the mission
you are leading? You need clarity on two things. The first is
your company’s objectives, which flow from its mission. The company’s
mission might be: “To make money for the Hunter family and
to cure cancer.” More specific objectives flow from that: “Achieve $5
billion in sales this year.” Second, you must create a sales strategy to
achieve the objective(s). You can only begin your sales force assessment
with these ends in mind.
For example, to achieve $5 billion in sales, you decide upon a
fundamental change in field tactics. Your new strategy requires a
solution selling approach to corporate-level (C-level) executives. In
the past, the sales force called primarily at the department level
using product-oriented tactics. It was effective, but meeting your
new assigned objectives requires high growth in existing accounts.
The sales force must expand its skills to include effectiveness at the
corporate level. Now, assessing your sales force becomes more
straightforward. Do they have the polish and technical expertise to
be credible at the C-level? Have they demonstrated it before?
• Examine the results of existing sales teams and individuals sales
• Socialize your sales vision with colleagues in other departments,
and gather their feedback.
• Talk to some of your customers.
• Review team performance with your sales managers, meet oneon-
one with top-performing sales reps.
• Review performance reports on sales and team activity.
At the earliest possible time, begin making field calls with your
salespeople. There is no better way to make a confident assessment
of your terrain than by experiencing it yourself. Do not accept someone
else’s assessment, because his or her evaluation criteria may be
different from yours.
Riding in a car with sales reps always provides deep insights
available no other way. After a few days in the field, you will appreciate
the sales culture, marketplace, customers, and competition
more insightfully than any other way. Then, with the confidence of
your own observations, you can make faster, more sound decisions.
Remember that you are taking a small sample of the whole
organization as you make your calls. Do not take everything you
hear or see as a universal truth. Be aware of what I call “the rep
who” influence. Psychologists tell us that we have easy recall of, say,
“the rep who” you rode with last week who claimed that the company’s
tech support was lousy. You must keep an open mind later
when the issue of tech support arises, remembering that each of us
has a different perspective on the truth. We see through the eyes of
one in our personal context. Try to simply flag issues for further
investigation rather than assuming you have special insight from that
Your early need is to see the big context and make decisions
about how the structure you inherit facilitates or inhibits the behavior
it does. That said, making sales calls can unearth solutions to
great mysteries and provide valuable insights.
I debriefed a new CEO who had returned from a week’s worth
of sales calls. Primarily, he had called on large accounts and top
executives within those accounts. He learned that while the company
believed it had a major account program, all it really had was
a product sales program. Most of the executives he called upon had
no idea of the diversity of his company’s products and the potential
benefits available by more integrated partnering. This insight led him
to develop, despite protests from his VP of sales, a separate major
account group under different management.
Do It Now
Many months will pass before the benefits materialize from major
sales organization changes. Because of this ramp-up time, a new CSO
must determine early if she will make major changes in her channels.
This is essential because she also must set expectations early.
In clear terms and wary of overconfidence, the CSO must inform
her CEO how much time will be required to ramp to achieve
expected results from the change. She must also warn the CEO of
estimated productivity declines in the interim. Then she must get a
firm commitment of support.
If you don’t get buy-in, at least you have put yourself on record
assessing the inadequacy of the current sales team to achieve objectives.
In denying your request, the CEO also goes on record with you.
What happens next? You begin to limp along with a sales force
that you have identified as inadequate to do the job. A smart CEO
will be open to reconsider your earlier assessment as it now comes
to pass. Inaction will not solve the problem.
Loyalty to one’s staff is important; however, loyalty can hurt people
who are asked to perform tasks incompatible with their attitudes
and skills. You cannot send ducks to eagle school.
A former VP for an international communications firm shared her
experience: “The market need these days is for consultative selling.
We could have great product-oriented salespeople, but they just
wouldn’t have the horsepower to do the job required today.” Her
experience was that 80% of the existing sales force failed to adapt to
consultative selling. “There is no time to waste these days. My advice
is to make cuts and changes all at once. Loyalty to you isn’t worth
much if you don’t make your numbers.” If you don’t, it will be your
neck on the block.
“You Got to Know the Territory!”
Another sales VP advises new CSOs not to stop with changes to the
sales channels. “Also assess political alliances of your staff and field
managers.” In addition to fourteen years as a sales leader, he has a
black belt in karate and is a student of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. “I
wish I had taken Sun Tzu’s advice myself when I became a sales
VP—‘know your terrain.’ ” Sun Tzu says that any commander “ignorant
of the conditions of mountains, forests, dangerous defiles,
swamps and marshes . . . cannot conduct the march of an army.”1
“Only after you understand your terrain can you develop an effective
strategy.” In other words, you must adapt your tactics to the
reality of the environment as you find it. To illustrate, he discussed
several managers in technical and administrative positions whom he
inherited and knew to have political loyalty to others.
“They were essentially spies.” By the time he learned that several of
these holdovers were actively undermining him, it was too late to
move them out of his organization. To his chagrin, he discovered
that his boss clandestinely maintained an open door to them.
“I should have gotten rid of them immediately and put in people
loyal to me. I was reluctant to do that because of their political
connections. Now I realize there would have been some of initial
discomfort, but it would have been well worth it. In the end, they
With your own loyalists, you can move earlier and more decisively.
Most sales executives believe the optimum strategy is to make
your personnel changes quickly. Stringing them out will kill morale
and cause your best people to look for companies where shoes are
not always dropping.
I know this from personal experience. I was a sales executive
brought in to AT&T to help its sales force succeed in a deregulated
environment. In this environment, AT&T announced that 40,000
employees would be separated from the company. You can well
imagine the internal environment after this announcement.
The downsizing occurred over several years. During that time,
morale was low and stayed there. Instead of a focus on market success,
the employee focus turned to and remained on personal survival.
I observed a sales organization with a short-term, personally
pragmatic outlook. Because the downsizing occurred in stops and
starts, predictability vanished. Throughout its 100-year history, perhaps
more than anything else, predictability of the company’s systems,
markets, and policies drove the loyalty and commitment of its
employees. Thereafter, virtually nothing became predictable, and the
culture collapsed. Who could have predicted that the most recognized
company in all the world be sucked into decades of decline,
finally culminating in the sale of the company?
PART I TAKING YOUR TEAM TO MARKET 1
Chapter 1 Going to Market: Leadership
and Responsibility 3
“The Ultimately Accountable Job…” 4
It Takes a Leader—and Sometimes a Lucky Break 4
Going to Market 6
The Path of Least Resistance 12
Chapter 2 The Sales Force 15
How to Assess Your New Team 16
Sales Channel Sizing and Company Profitability 21
In Pursuit of Rewards: Chocolate, Sex, and Money 24
Chapter 3 Sales Environment 29
Type 1 or Type 2 Situations 30
Why Good Salespeople Make Bad Decisions 34
Chapter 4 Sales Control and Policies 45
Sales Controls 45
The “Art” of Forecasting 48
Thin-Slicing, a Productivity Tool 54
How a Super Salesman Avoided Common Decision Traps 63
Chapter 5 Channels 67
Role of Partners 68
Alliances Can Position You 69
Thin-Slicing in a Sales Channel 69
The 80/20 Rule 73
Chapter 6 Product/Market Match 75
Role of Sales 75
Unwrinkling Southern California 77
Chapter 7 Competition 83
Learning from the Fosbury Flop 83
History Repeats Competitive Ebbs and Flows 87
Chapter 8 The Customer 93
Loyalty Costs More Now 94
How to Avoid Being the Designated Loser 95
Chapter 9 The Market 103
Sales Is Only the Messenger 103
The Great Market Shift in 100 CE 105
PART II PERSONAL COACHING 109
Chapter 10 Facts-in-the-Future™ 111
Consider the Odds, Charlie Brown 111
Predictable Surprises 111
Change Accelerates 113
Anticipating the Future 114
Chapter 11 The Truth About Statistics, or Why You
Need a BS (Bad Statistics) Filter 117
A Short History of Bad Numbers 118
Champagne Secret 120
The Illusory Link 121
Chapter 12 The Gullibility Factor 127
“How Gullible Are We?” 128
What Are Best Practices? 129
Dotcom Euphoria 131
Caution: No Silver Bullets for Sales! 132
IBM’s Success Environment 132
Examine the Evidence 133
Application to a Forecasting Gap 134
Exponential Sales Growth 135
Additional Insights 136
Chapter 13 Intuition 141
Intuition Is Experience, Not Magic 142
Experience in Action 143
Intuition Is Mainstream 143
Improve Your Intuition 146
“Rounds” for Team Intuition 146
CSI: Seeing the Invisible 147
Intuition Is Knowing What Will Happen 148
Test Your Intuition 148
Chapter 14 How Much Information Is Enough? 151
Spam Slicing 152
Information: Less Is Often More 152
A Lesson Learned from Betting on Horses 153
Chapter 15 Mind Games 155
The Availability Heuristic 156
Processing Biases 157
Lonely at the Top 158
A CEO’s Advice 159
Public Stress 159
Drowning by Hanging onto an Anchor 160
You Take It, You Own It 161
Chapter 16 Walk a Mile in the CFO’s Shoes 165
Where Does the CEO Stand? 166
The CFO’s Viewpoint 166
Sales Takes No Action 168
Classic Goof 168
Chapter 17 The Brain of a Sales Manager 171
Brain Science 172
We Have Dog Brains!?! 172
Mr. Spock as Role Model? 173
Mental Imaging 174
As We Thinketh 174
Why Goals Work 175
There Are No Limits 176
Chapter 18 Evolution in Sales Management 179
Making Your Age Work for You 180
CIA Advice for Continuing Career Success 184
Superwoman and Other Dysfunctional Models 184
Chapter 19 The CEO and Sales Force Success 189
Evolved and Unevolved CEOs: Hurd vs. Fiorina at HP 190
Predictable Failure 193
Chapter 20 Perception Sticks Like Glue 195
Iceberg Perceptions 196
Perceiving the Risks 197
Flexibility and Success 198
Know the Truth 199
Chapter 21 FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions 203
Changing Territories 206
Loss Reviews 209
Earnings and Tenure 210
Decision Making 210
Best Wishes for Success 212
About the Author 227
Posted November 2, 2009
Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) have shorter tenures - averaging one year - than other corporate executives and that's no surprise. With unflinching candor and formidable insight, Wayne M. Thomas explains that sales managers always walk a tightrope between intoxicating success and crushing failure. Thomas, who has a doctorate in business administration, has written a terrific must-read book for sales managers and executives, and anyone crazy - or ambitious - enough to want the job. Based on his depth of experience, the author offers excellent advice, solutions and sharp psychological insight. Thomas clearly has "been there, done that." If you want to be a sales executive, getAbstract encourages you to turn to him for the lowdown.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 15, 2011
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