Sales Manager’s Challenge

We were called in this week to meet with the president of a highly regarded business because year-to-date revenues were way off. And competition had flourished, significantly reducing market share. The board was demanding significant changes now, and the president was just in her second week on the job.

The sales team consists of a senior sales producer (who was also fulfilling the sales manager’s role), a more productive person new to the industry, and junior person relegated to inbound calls only. Quick review of sales operations showed an absence of job desciptions with nothing more than an offer letter given to the producers. The letter specifically detailed base salary levels and bonus payouts with levels of achievement and payment terms. The bonus payouts are based solely on monthly team achievement.

Once again, another business focuses on expanding head count without a strong foundation of managing mutual expectations, clearly defining specific measures of individual achievement with a real-time tracking system, and consistently providing coaching support.

We couldn’t find any other documents defining mutual expectations or guidelines for measuring individual productivity. The revenues suffer from seasonal cash flows. and product pricing constantly fluxuates. This makes individual bonus payouts challenging to calculate.

The manager’s base compensation (which seems to curb activity) was nearly twice that of the younger producers, and creates friction with other team members. This prospect has several ways to respond to the board’s directive. They could start with developing different Job descriptions that define different positions (management; individual producer; inside sales, etc.). They could draft individual performance objectives that bind each producer to specific results in other areas of the company. It’s not just closed sales that drive production, it’s all the other duties; networking, participating in sales meetings, consistent prospecting, updating CRM systems, etc.

So, play the role of this president…what are the first three things you’d do? Leave your comment here.

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