When Erich Eggers, president of Remodeling Designs, in Dayton, Ohio, finally took off his sales hat and hired his first salesperson, he learned that his own 20-year track record in sales didn’t mean he was ready to manage someone else. “We were not prepared to provide the type of sales training that was necessary to help this person be successful in our organization,” Eggers says.
NEW SKILL SETS
The term “sales manager” is a misnomer, write Robert Nesbit and Arthur Miller in Making Sales Manager: Sales Manager’s Survival Guide. You are not a sales manager. You are a salesperson manager. People are your business and your first priority.
As manager, you will have a new set of responsibilities, from finding and selecting good people to teaching them skills, keeping them motivated, creating goals, analyzing their performance, and holding them accountable. To analyze performance, Miller and Nesbit say you must know five things fairly accurately:
- The number of prospects a salesperson has to see to close a sale
- A salesperson’s cost per hour of work
- The actual time invested per activity — prospecting, estimating, meeting with clients
- Size of the average sale
- Closing ratios
The more accurate the information, the better able you will be to help salespeople improve their statistics. You should also know the behaviors that make salespeople successful — everything from how often the rep communicates with prospects at the beginning of the sales process through follow-up to prospecting activities.
Finally, track a salesperson’s new-business activities. Eggers says, “Every salesperson needs to be responsible for generating a portion of their own leads, whether it’s through networking in service organizations, canvassing jobsites, or cold-calling.”
START OFF RIGHT
Having a startup or on-boarding process becomes critical to your success as a sales manager as well as for the success of your new salespeople. “What he or she learns in the first few hours is likely to have more impact than what is learned later,” write Nesbit and Miller. A process delineates targets as well as helps the sales manager to track and analyze.
Eggers’ salesperson — who had industry experience — did not last. “We were winging it and relying on on-the-job training to get him up and running,” Eggers says. Planning ahead might have changed the outcome and saved time, money, and frustration.
“The one thing I’ll do before we hire a salesperson again is to have a comprehensive on-boarding and training process ready to go,” Eggers says. “Investing heavily in the up-front training is a wise thing to do if you want your salesperson to be successful.”
—Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage — helping hundreds of remodelers across North America build strong, profitable businesses. 301.490.5620. www.remodelersadvantage.com.
Making Sales Manager: The Sales Manager’s Survival Guide, Robert Nesbit and Arthur Miller
ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game, William “Skip” Miller
The Sales Manager’s Success Manual, Wayne M. Thomas
This is a longer version of an article that originally appeared in the November 2009 issue or REMODELING.