The Sales Manager's Success Manual

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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.

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What People Are Saying

Gerhard Gschwandtner
"a manual that should be on every sales manager's desk... open any page and you immediately get value out of it."--(Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and Publisher, Selling Power)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814480502
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 9/26/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Wayne M. Thomas (Sudbury, MA) is a consultant, speaker, and sales trainer. His clients include AT&T, Sprint, Nortel, and Novell. As a sales rep, he won IBM’s Golden Circle Award, as well as awards at AT&T for building a top-performing sales team.

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Read an Excerpt


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

of sales.

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

corporate asset.

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?

Collecting Data

• 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

single exposure.

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

killed me.”

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?

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Table of Contents


Preface ix

Acknowledgments xii


Chapter 1 Going to Market: Leadership

and Responsibility 3

“The Ultimately Accountable Job…” 4

It Takes a Leader—and Sometimes a Lucky Break 4

Realities 5

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


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

Overconfidence 162

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

Predictability 192

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

Hiring 203

Overconfidence 204

Changing Territories 206

CEO 206

Learning 208

Loss Reviews 209

Earnings and Tenure 210

Decision Making 210

Best Wishes for Success 212

Notes 213

Bibliography 219

Index 221

About the Author 227

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  • Posted November 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Rough Road for Sales Executives

    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.

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    Posted July 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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