Sales Training Courses for Engineers, Scientists & Techies,
Workshops and Manuals by Robert Seviour
Sales Managers this is how to manage salespeople for best results
Once a business has grown to the point that the owner doesn't have enough time to both manage and sell, it's the moment to look at taking on sales staff.
If you can get it right, this is a powerful step up towards the next level of business growth and increased profits. The potential benefit is great; you may be able to multiply your company's turnover and profits massively.
But handling sales people is notoriously difficult, as countless business owners and sales managers have found. Good salesmen are hard to find and hire. Managing and retaining an effective sales team is a challenge; at best it's hard but rewarding, at worst close to impossible.
Part of the reason is that many business owners have had no experience of managing a sales team before. And looking for an example to model on, it is tempting simply to copy the approach used by other organisations. Unfortunately, doing the same thing that others do is probably going to cause you the same problems that they face.
From that perspective, sales people are difficult, disloyal and only interested in getting the most money for the least work. The employees see a sweatshop where the only satisfaction is getting your paycheque. The work, the place and the manager are just to be endured
Under these conditions, nobody is a winner. It gets worse when the manager's reaction is to give the sales staff detailed rules about how they should work and decide how to treat people by their sales numbers.
Salespeople dislike being handled this way, and motivation and loyalty suffer. Micro-managing and coercion produce at best grudging compliance, leading to mediocre sales performance and the disruption of recruiting new people to replace those who leave.
The better alternative is to treat the salespeople well, inspire them and develop an environment in which they enjoy their work. The foundation for this is the relationship between the manager and the sales people.
You have to operate in such a way that the sales people want to work with you. If you succeed, their frustration dissolves and they become inspired with belief in themselves, the company, the product. the job and you, their leader.
There are no tricks to leadership, for sustainable results you have to install and maintain a fresh perspective of what a salesperson is and how they must be treated. The core idea is simple, although demanding to implement:
'Treat everyone as though he or she were your best customer'
The respect and consideration that this implies transforms the manager : salesperson relationship. Think about and treat your sales force as if they are your best customers. Focus on building relationships with them and solving their problems.
At weekly sales meetings, of course, you must post the numbers, but take great care to avoid alienating anyone with the way you talk about their results. Instead work on building empathy and solving the salespeoples' problems.
Make it a practice for each member to present his most recent success story and his most difficult prospect. Team members will learn from each other's successes and put forward their ideas on how to handle problems.
Continue to do some selling yourself, share your successes and problem situations; look for and accept input from your team. Make regular sales calls with each of them, make visits with them to their toughest customers Your job is to help them beat their problems and then get out of their way.
Although treating your salespeople well might be alien to 'slave-driver' sales managers, don't mistake this approach for naive altruism. You will avoid some of the most frustrating problems in sales management.
If your team enjoys the job, your company won't be forced to pay the highest commissions in your industry to recruit and retain the best people.
If you liked this article, take a look at my book.
And if you are having trouble recruiting a good technical salesperson, this is essential reading -
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