Helping Manufacturers And Distributors Improve Sales Performance And Profitability • 800-867-2778 • Issue No. 39

The Sales Manager’s Challenge

Great rewards await sales managers who take a new approach to an old problem

Every day, sales managers face the challenge of getting the numbers, with fewer people and smaller budgets. They’re constantly trying to do more with less. It can be stressful, to say the least.

But research by the Industrial Performance Group shows that it’s easier than it seems to respond to this challenge and increase sales.

Sales managers can get more out of the salespeople they already have — without increasing the budget and without working their people harder. All it takes is a new perspective.

For sales managers willing to take a fresh look at how they manage their salespeople, the rewards will be great.

When the “tried and true” stops working

If you're a sales manager and your numbers aren’t where they need to be, you've probably considered one or more of these options:

• Lower sales expectations and reforecast. This will make the numbers easier to hit, but lowering sales forecasts can be a career-limiting move if you do it too often.

• Lower your price to buy more sales volume. This might boost volume and gross revenue, but it can seriously hurt profits. And lower profits mean even less money for next year’s sales and marketing budget.

• Put a bit more pressure on the sales force. Again? This might work one more time, but it will eventually push your people to the breaking point. If you burn out your top performers, they’ll start moving to greener pastures.

None of these options are very attractive. It’s certainly not like the “good old days,” when sales managers could always turn to incentive programs, sales contests, motivational speakers and the old-fashioned "stern talking to" to get a short-term spike in sales.

For many sales managers, these popular approaches just don't work like they once did.

What changed?

The old tactics just don’t work that well anymore, because most salespeople are already working hard. Downsizings, re-engineering and the “lean” movement have all affected the salesperson.

For example, many companies cut costs by eliminating entire customer support departments. But customers still need support, so salespeople picked up the slack. As a result, they spend less time selling and more time doing what others used to do: supporting the customer.

Companies also reduced costs through longer and leaner supply chains, but this created more potential for problems and mistakes. When these problems hit the customer, salespeople go into action. They drop what they’re doing so they can investigate, resolve the problem and keep the customer happy. This takes more time away from prospecting and selling.

If you’re a sales manager, we don’t need to go any further. You know the list goes on and on. There are many more examples of how today’s competitive environment has squeezed the salesperson.

In fact, our recent survey of more than 1,500 salespeople showed that the average salesperson spends less than half (38 percent) of his or her time selling.

It’s not that salespeople lack motivation or financial incentives. Their time is simply being eaten up. They’re working longer and harder just to keep their heads above water and hold onto the customers they have.

If your salespeople are already giving 100 percent, don’t expect another incentive program, motivational speaker or "stern talking to" to improve their performance. They’re already “maxed out.”

Try a new perspective

The only way to really improve sales performance is to free up your salespeople so they have more time to sell.

This will require some “outside the box” thinking. But the companies that take this step will have a major competitive advantage. There’s no reason why that advantage shouldn’t be yours.

When you free up just one hour of a salesperson’s time, you’ll begin to see an impact on your sales numbers. See for yourself by trying our Sales Performance Calculator.

To learn practical steps you can take today, click here for our free report, "The 5 Common Barriers to Peak Sales Performance."

And to really put this information to work, click here to learn about our Peak Sales Performance Work Session. This informative work session will show you what to do on a day-to-day basis to help your salespeople become peak performers — with low risk and no additional sales and marketing costs.

Maybe it’s time for a new perspective. If the “tried and true” just isn’t working anymore, we can help you rise to the challenge.

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