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No Foolin': Sales Leadership Should Be Thinking Summer

April 1 is right around the corner and I want all of you reading to avoid being this year's fool.

Recently, during a consulting session with a client's president and sales manager, we discussed two points that I thought would be good items to bring up in this week's blog.

The first point, which is not an unusual one, was to ensure both the president and sales management were in agreement as to weekly priorities. Often, I find the sales manger focused on important activities during a their hectic weekly schedule -- putting out fires, solving administration issues, coaching/mentoring, recruiting...oh, and trying to ensure sales are being achieved. Meanwhile the president is frustrated that other key objectives are not being completed. 

While time management is a major topic for sales leaders, what I almost always recommend is that on Friday afternoons, the president and sales manager meet to agree on the priorities for the coming week and to discuss the achievements/problems of the past week. This is what I call "managing your sales manager." The whitepaper "How to Manage Sales for Predictable Revenue," which you can download on my site, was created for this specific purpose. It defines the 40 top actions that sales managers must work on to achieve predictable revenues. By following this simple recommendation everyone is focused on the agreed-upon priorities.

The second point is about summer. I don't mean vacations -- I mean being forward-thinking. In my discussions this past week, it was obvious both the president and sales manager were thinking week-to-week. While that is important to attain revenue goals, it becomes a treadmill that brings exhaustion, both mental and physical. I recommended the following actions:

  1. Know what your revenue objectives are for the next five quarters and make sure you match your hiring plans to achieve the goals. Know when you need to hire salespeople in time to be trained to achieve your sales objectives.

  2. Prepare a planned organizational chart that extends over 18 months. This will help in No. 1, but also provide you an awareness of your resource needs.

  3. Create your sales dashboards for a weekly, monthly, quarterly and even year-to-date analysis. By doing this you will see a better trend analysis and you will be paying attention to both short- and longer-term results.

  4. Plan and define your sales training plans quarterly, with topics, dates/times and people responsible.

  5. What sales promotions, contests and sales games do you have planned for the second quarter, and even this summer, to maintain revenues and to create fun?

Advanced or forward-looking planning will greatly reduce the stress and improve the functionality of the sales manager. It will also reduce the natural stress that is created when managing a sales organization and working with the executive team within your company.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 29, 2012