January 2012 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • Why The Sales Manager’s Role Is So Vitally Important by Roy Chitwood >>
  • Price Cutting is for Sissies by Mark Hunter "The Sales Hunter" >>
  • Fun Facts – Interesting Stats about Sales by Mark Christie >>


Why The Sales Manager’s Role Is So Vitally Important
by Roy Chitwood

I've written before that in my opinion the toughest job in management is the sales manager position.

This position is also the key in building a successful sales organization.

For the purpose of this article, when I refer to the sales manager I am referring to someone who has the responsibility for the hiring, training and development of the sales team for his or her area of responsibility.

I am not referring to the salesperson who may be carrying a sales manager´s title but whose primary responsibility is personal sales.

In no other position in the company is accountability measured more by the results produced than the sales manager´s. The numbers tell all.

The sales organization, the territories and the individual salespeople either meet quota or they don´t. There is no in-between. The position can be thankless with regard to public acknowledgment or appreciation and is similar to the coaching profession in most major sports.

With few notable exceptions, most coaches in the professional ranks receive none of the credit for success and all of the blame for failure as we have seen with all of the changes made as the result of a dismal professional football season.

There are many reasons why it is so difficult to be successful in the sales manager position. One is the lack of understanding on the part of senior management of what's really involved in the sales function of a company.

Because of this lack of understanding, many times senior management makes the mistake of filling the position with a top-producing salesperson.

Being an outstanding salesperson doesn't qualify someone for the sales management position. In fact, many times the characteristics that contribute to the success of an outstanding salesperson work against him or her in the role of sales manager.

Research shows that the majority of outstanding salespeople have high ego drive, a strong sense of self-worth and look for recognition of their personal sales achievements.

However, the successful sales manager understands that the results that can be produced by her team are much greater than any results she could achieve on her own. Thus, the focus is on developing, in my opinion, any company's greatest asset — the undeveloped potential of its people.

The following is an example of the lack of understanding on the part of senior management of what´s required for the position of sales manager. Recently a former manager from my old life insurance days many years ago contacted me for a reference for a new sales manager position he was applying for.

After a successful career in the insurance business he went into the mortgage banking business and formed his own mortgage company that he successfully operated for more than 10 years prior to the housing meltdown in the last couple of years.

After he'd completed the interview process, he called to let me know he did not get the position because senior management felt that his typing speed was not sufficient. He is in his early 50s and did not grow up with the computer as many of today's sales executives have. Therefore his typing speed was only 29 words per minute.

It is my opinion that this company does not understand the requirements of a successful sales manager.

I would wager my last dollar that no one is going to be a successful sales manager as a result of typing speed.

Let's examine some of the attributes of the successful sales manager.

  • Coaching and mentoring. Top sales managers understand that the results that can be produced by their people through proper training, coaching and mentoring are much greater than the results they can achieve on their own. They understand that nothing is any more important than their people and therefore they invest their time heavily in the training and development of their personnel as they know they will harvest the fruits of their labor in the future.


  • Patience. Much like a wise farmer, successful managers understand that they can´t simply plant seeds today and harvest a crop tomorrow. They must continually nourish their people, help them to grow and bring them along to the point of harvest and this includes ongoing sales training. There are three important elements in the sales training process: 1. It has to be real world; 2. It has to be ongoing; 3. It has to be repetitious. The sales manager has the patience to show them, show them and show them.

  • Ego drive. Just like top salespeople, top sales managers also have a high ego drive but it´s in a different form. The top manager´s ego is in the background and is satisfied through the accomplishments of the team. One of the main reasons that many times outstanding salespeople do not make good managers is that their individual ego needs get in the way.

  • Selflessness. A successful sales manager must be selfless most of the time. Many times what might be in the manager´s best interest isn´t in the best interest of his people or organization. The successful managers are those who forsake short-term personal gain for the long-term benefits of their people and the company. And this also has to be the best thing for the manager.

  • Results through people. Managers are judged by the results of their team. Therefore they understand the value and importance of training, coaching and mentoring their people. There´s absolutely nothing managers have to do that is any more important than spending the necessary time in the field with their people. This means spending time with the stars as well as the struggling neophytes. A manager´s greatest return on her time is the personal time spent with the top performers.

How important is the sales manager to a successful organization?

The sales activity of a company is the only activity that brings in revenue.

All other activities are cost activities.

Research shows the above-average salesperson has twice the chances of being successful with an above-average manager.

The average salesperson has five times the chances of being successful with an above-average sales manager.

How important is the sales manager?

You make the call.


Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.

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Price Cutting is for Sissies
by Mark Hunter "The Sales Hunter"

Sales is all about closing the deal, and in order to achieve that goal, a purchase price must be agreed upon. All salespeople, at one time or another, have had their price challenged. What do you do when that situation arises? As much as everyone in sales would like to consider themselves “great closers,” in reality, many are sissies when it comes to this important skill. They often boast about never discounting their product, but when they’re suddenly confronted on price, they fold faster than a cheap umbrella on a windy day.

Consider the following scenario you may have found yourself in. . . .You’re on the verge of closing the biggest deal of your career. Doing so will put a nice, fat commission check in your hands and you’ll soon be receiving kudos from everyone in the company. Now comes the curve ball.

You discover that the customer is looking to you for a price discount and, to top it off, you find out about an equally qualified competitor that is willing to undercut your price. While you are under the pressure of being in the middle of the hunt, you are left with only two options. You can hold the line and not cut the price to keep your profit potential in tact. Or, you can cut the price and be willing to take a lower margin for the sake of landing the big order. Which do you choose?

Although the tendency for many is to give in to the price discount,there is a better approach. By being prepared ahead of time as to why your product/service can fill their need, you can avoid caving in under the pressure of the moment.

In a situation like this, your self-assurance is critical. Be confident in what you say and, more importantly, ensure that the customer is certain of the benefits they will receive by working with you. The cheapest price might be what everybody is looking for, but what good is a low price if it doesn’t deliver on what it is supposed to?

When the customer requests a price discount, respond by asking them about how they intend to use your product/service, and what they expect to gain from using it. Your goal should be to get them to express both the pain they will experience if what they’re about to buy doesn’t help them accomplish what they want it to and the need they have for your type of product/service. Then you can explain how your product/service can alleviate that pain and best fill that need.

How can you establish a high level of confidence in your price? One of the best ways is by having a full sales pipeline. This means that you have prospects and customers at each phase of your sales process so you don’t have to worry about closing every sale. Your assurance comes in knowing that you’re making the right decision by not discounting because you “have” to.

The worst thing any salesperson can do when a customer is looking for a price break is to give in. Unfortunately, because many cannot confidently communicate their price, they often cave in. To overcome this problem, salespeople need to understand, in real terms, the buyer’s perspective of how they can benefit from the product/service.

For example, if I’m going to take a trip and my destination is 1,000 miles away, I have several options as to how I can get there. I could hitchhike, which would cost me virtually nothing, but wouldn’t guarantee when I’d arrive. I could drive my car, keeping my immediate costs to only the gasoline (assuming the car does not break down), but my travel time could take several days. Or, I could fly, which would probably have the highest immediate cost, but would, undoubtedly, be the fastest.

Because your goal in selling should be to help ensure the success of your customers, you can see from this example that the cheapest approach is not reliable, nor would it save time. In addition, most people wouldn’t want to take several days to drive to and from the destination. Therefore, because of the time it will save, the best option is to fly, even though it’s probably the most expensive. Since time is of the essence in many industries, its value is worth the extra money. Keeping that in mind, cutting the price is clearly not the most beneficial or efficient.

Besides being unable to confidently communicate their price, another common reason salespeople give in when challenged is because they believe the misconception that by offering a discount on the initial order, they can make it up on the next one. However, the truth is that there is no way to ever regain the lost revenue. Once the customer has accepted a lower price, that amount becomes their new level of expectation. Any other price is seen as an increase.

Think of it from the following perspective: Would you believe a promise from your boss that if he/she were to hold back your next raise for a year, it would be made up to you later? We often kid ourselves into believing that we can get the higher price out of the customer on the next order.

Finally, when a customer requests a discounted price, it is important to remember that giving one is an immediate reduction to your total profit. Depending on how drastic you are willing to go, you are ultimately the one taking the pay cut. Is that what you really want to do? Consider that decreasing your price may help you land the initial sale but, over time, it still does not make up for the revenue you lost on the initial sale.

Maintaining pricing integrity is a challenge. It starts by being self-assured and it extends not only to the service you deliver, but also to the expectations of the customer. Don’t entertain their requests for a discount. Be confident in both your price and the product/service you offer. Ensure that your sales pipeline is full by spending adequate time developing it at all phases of your sales process. Consider how your product/service can help ensure the future success of your customers. Don’t believe the lie that you can make up your initial price cut on the next order. Without confidence in your price, you can say good-bye to your profits. Price cutting is for sissies!

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. To find out more, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com.

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Fun Facts – Interesting Stats about Sales
by Mark Christie

(Note about author: If you are wanting to book Mark for an upcoming sales conference or training at your location, click here to get started. Dates are filling fast!)

Nearly 12.3% of all the jobs in the U.S. are full time sales positions.

Over one trillion (that’s nine zeros) is spent annually on sales forces.

Average cost of customer contact:
Telephone sales calls = $33.11
Field sales calls = $276.48

A world class sales benchmarking study revealed that the caliber of the salesperson, in a B2B environment, is the most important factor influencing prospects’ decisions to buy.

In many companies, 20% of the sales force delivers 80% of the revenue. This means that hiring talented sales people is essentially a random event. Tossing a coin would be as effective.

64% of salespeople who fail, do so because they are in the wrong job, not because they cannot sell.

Top sales producers outperform average producers by 2:1, and low producers by 10:1.

Caliper Corp reports that 55% of the people making their living in sales should be doing something else.

Sales is a talent-based profession, and so the best sales training will only improve the performance of an individual on average by 20%. So a 5% can become a 6%, but an 80% can become a 96%.

Replacing your bottom 20% of salespeople with only average performers would improve sales productivity by nearly 20%.

Over 50% of sales managers are too busy to train and develop their sales teams. Sensible investment in recruiting and developing real sales talent produces amazing returns.

A 5% reduction in the customer defection rate can increase profits from anywhere between 25% and 80%.

Satisfying and retaining current customers is anywhere from 3 to 10 times less costly than acquiring new customers.

An average company loses between 10% and 30% of its customers each year.

92% of all customer interactions happen via the phone.

85% of customers report being dissatisfied with their phone experiences.

Source: Interesting Sales Facts, Outbound Excellence

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training company based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales leaders with the direction and support to ensure positive behavior change in their sales teams.

Visit Mark at http://www.salesforcetraining.com/


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