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How Not To Get Fired: A 4-Step Plan

On a recent flight to Seattle, I pondered what this week's blog might contain. While reflecting on the past year and looking forward toward 2013, it occurred to me that a quick summary of a few basic actions sales leadership must take to succeed would be of value.

Step One: Build an Active Recruiting Plan 
Most sales managers get fired for not hitting the desired sales goals. Normally, the reason is because they have a lack of salespeople selling their products/services. You must know your average transaction value versus your yearly or monthly sales objectives. The key question is: "Do you have enough salespeople on board to achieve your monthly number of required sales transactions?"

A sales manager must look ahead by 90 to 120 days at future potential revenue objectives and understand your manpower requirements.  Recruiting is sales leadership's marketing campaign for sales leads. Build an ongoing program to ensure you have the right talent in place to exceed your goals.

Step Two: Know Your Pipeline Metrics
This is something I have written about before but it is what can bite the sales manager. You must know the accurate value of the pipeline 90 to 120 days out (depending upon your sales cycle). The question you must ask is: "Do you have enough number of opportunities both in value and number of opportunities to achieve your upcoming monthly quota?"If not, what can you do to ensure you build up the pipeline values so that you will have enough opportunities to achieve the monthly objective? It's November; what is your February pipeline value? Do you have the necessary values to achieve February's goals when it's Feb. 1?

Step Three: Is Your Team Trained? 
Recently, one of my new clients, a technical team member and myself listened in as two of their salespeople gave a demonstration to a major new client sales opportunity. It became obvious to the president that the salespeople were not professional or even capable of handling the meeting. It was enlightening and a crucial step toward increasing the need for continued focus on sales training. The sales team had been neglecting our recommendations for how to improve their skill level, and now there will be an increased buy-in by management and peer levels to focus on sales skills. 

  • Make more sales calls with your team.
  • Build in a quarterly salesperson skills-evaluation process.
  • Increase more role-playing in your sales-training meetings.
  • Build a quarterly sales-training program.

Step Four: Improve Your Professional Business Acumen
Make sure you read the local business sections in your local papers, The Wall Street Journal, business magazines and Web sites. Read three business books a year and join a sales leadership "peer group" of other sales managers to learn how others are increasing their leadership skills. This step will improve your ability to discuss the business trends of the day with prospects and your sales team, increase your stature within your management team and improve how you manage your team.

Follow these four steps and your odds of surviving the usual 18-month window that most sales leaders live under will improve. If you have not downloaded  our whitepaper, "Top  40 Sales Management  Actions To Build Predictable Revenue" from our Web site, send me an e-mail at [email protected] and I will send it to you. 

Posted by Ken Thoreson on November 26, 2012


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