Many Small Businesses Need Professional Assistance to Achieve Revenue Goals
by Ernie Basino, Nov. 2012
Often underestimated as a viable path to maximizing your sales department’s ROI, the leadership role of an effective sales manager can be invaluable in taking your business to the next level. The effective sales manager is your catalyst for consistent, profitable growth by performing multiple, vital functions. Are you considering hiring a sales manager but not sure if this is the best direction for you?
Most folks would not consider taking a week-long white water rafting trip without an experienced guide to lead them – to avoid obstacles and stay the course along the way to their destination downriver. Then why allow your sales reps to compete in a challenging, highly competitive business environment without the leadership, direction and coaching of an effective manager?
Do you feel that you are unable to fund the compensation package that a veteran sales manger would require? You’re not alone but you have options to consider, possibly one that you are unaware of.
Beyond the fundamental practices of solid sales management – such as recruiting and top-grading the sales team; implementing and managing an effective, structured process; and daily coaching the sales reps – the sales manager fills many key responsibilities, including:
- Complements the business owner’s strengths, which are often unrelated to sales. Many business owners, for instance, have engineering, manufacturing or IT backgrounds. They have a great product or service but are unfamiliar in how to proceed in growing profitable, consistent sales or perhaps bringing a new product to market. They may be struggling with sales rep turnover or eroding margins. Sales management practices are universal. A veteran sales manager, even from an unrelated industry, can be your springboard to growth.
- Develops and communicates a concise sales strategy to the team. A professional sales manager will develop and implement a sales strategy that is aligned with your company objectives. The strategy will be your guiding light: your sales goals, the mission of the sales team, strategies to achieve your specific objectives, and appropriate action steps.
- Keeps sales reps’ behavior aligned with your company objectives.
- Maintains sales reps’ accountability and focus by setting and managing to expectations.
- Makes your company more competitive.
- Establishes a winning environment for positive self motivation that will increase loyalty and tenure among your most valuable salespeople.
- Reports to ownership, keeping you apprised of accomplishments.
- Drives your sales department’s return on investment (ROI).
Options to Ponder
- Option 1 – the Status Quo. Continue to do the best you can with the knowledge and time that you have. Consider sales management training to improve your own effectiveness. Before deciding to stay the course, ask yourself a few questions: what is the cost of not getting sales management leadership? Am I restricting my growth and allowing the competition to grab market share? Am I stepping over dollars to pick up nickels and dimes?
- Option 2 – Send your Sales Reps to Selling Skill Seminars. There is certainly a place for seminars but typically at a substantial cost in both time and money. The biggest caution is that the vast majority of new learning is lost unless the sales reps’ newly acquired knowledge and skills are continuously reinforced by management until new habits are created. Do you have sufficient means for effective follow-up and reinforcement? If not, then skip this option.
- Option 3 – Hire a full-time Sales Manager. This perhaps is your best option, but the reality is that you may spend in excess $125K per year on salary, bonus, benefits and expenses. Your return will eventually materialize. However, it will occur further down the road than you are probably willing to wait. Caution! Your best salesperson will not necessarily make an effective sales manager. Sometimes yes, oftentimes not. This path is often chosen because on the surface it seems logical. The mindset, however, is very different. The best reps tend to have a lone wolf mentality, which does not translate well into becoming the pack leader.
- Option 4 – Outsource. An option that you may be unaware of is to outsource your sales management duties to a veteran sales management group that guarantees results with no long-term commitment at about one-third the cost of a full-time sales manager. Your sales challenges and headaches are removed and you can focus on your area of preference or expertise.
A new world of possibilities awaits you with a fresh new approach to sales leadership.
Ernie Basino is an independent sales management consultant based on Cocoa, FL, who works with small- and medium-sized businesses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (321) 684-6933.