Why Business Owners are like Front Line Sales Managers

You are a small business owner, an entrepreneur, an idea machine, a market maven, and more. You’ve built a pretty good little business, covering your nut, eliminated the burn rate, and now its time to grow again.

So you do – you’ve hired some sales people(from 1-n) and then bingo, you hit the wall.

All of a sudden there is never enough time, service issues become all consuming, and as you discover, sales people have needs.

They have need of direction, territory definition, compensation, tools, software, messaging, activity management, value propositions, sales process, ‘demo-ware’, conferencing support, and more. They need guidance. And just like telling isn’t selling, telling is neither leading nor managing. It takes more.

Now what? You thought you’d hired the best you could get for the budget you had, and that as sales professionals with track record (so the resume said), none of this would be needed.

How did this happen?

You’ve just crossed the threshold from business owner to front line sales manager (FLM), a specialist role if ever there was one. With none of your other duties abating, the days are getting longer and longer, and productivity is going down.

In the software development business, we’ve all become aware of the mythical man month – the notion that as you add complexity, you create friction and drag that reduces productivity. So too in businesses that are weak on sales management policy, procedure, infrastructure, systems, and professional sales management practices that will rationalize your life.

So what works?

If you can afford it, hire a professional sales manager to straighten things out. This can be done on an interim or full time basis depending on your needs and resources.

Define what you need in terms of people, roles, structure, territories and more. No definition, no chance of success – its your blueprint for success.

Build the team you need through recruiting, training, coaching, and leading them in the right direction. Shape the Sales Culture you need by emphasizing key qualities a sales culture must have based on internal and external drivers.

Enable the team using informational supports, typically in the form of Customer Research, Social Media software, sales process optimized CRM software (most isn’t), and powerful Ideal Customer Profile definitions.

Motivate the team using deep understanding of your sale people’s personal goals, company goals, and the Customer’s goals. If you don’t know what they are, you’ll have a tough time leading your team towards them. Goals should not ignore financial compensation, yet must not prioritize greed and selfishness as the path to success.

Control and Accountability are typically the least fun of any business owner’s or FLM’s day in the life. Expect what you Inspect meaning you must set targets and hold people accountable to meet them.  Most people really do want to do good works each and every day, some do not. Even for those who do, holding people accountable for achievement shows them what matters and is important.

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This entry was posted in Business Ownership, Sales Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Recruiting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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