Having a sales-management strategy is quintessential to drive revenues within any organization. From the simple transfer of goods or services—which creates the value exchange between a transaction-oriented business and a consumer—to more complex sales models, often oriented towards relationship selling and enterprise selling; sales-management strategies need to be developed, deployed and effectively executed.
A lot of business managers, including myself, will admit that sales-management strategy execution is most daunting; while sales-strategy development and deployment are much easier. Part of the challenge with the execution is due to sales managers having to rely upon others—whether they are part of their direct teams or extended teams—to deliver results. As such, sales managers who are most effective at execution, have mastered the leadership competencies to influence others. They are able to employ emotional-intelligence skills to succeed through others, gain commitments and deliver exceptional sales results. It has long been recognized that using novel approaches to leadership, with a dose of pragmatism, can open the door to unleash people to deploy discretion efforts (read 5 Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence).
What is discretionary effort? According to Aubrey Daniels International (ADI), “…discretionary effort is the level of effort people could give if they wanted to, but above and beyond the minimum required…”
Conversely, sales managers who traditionally use aggressive authority to drive sales results, have mastered the art of compliance often with threats, withdrawal of support or tie performance to withdrawal of incentives that were once previously enjoyed; which can unintentionally harness low morale and apathy within their teams. Consequently, they execute poorly with mediocre results.
It is not surprising that a research paper titled Influence Tactics – Putting Power to Work, published by California State Polytechnic University, cites:
“Coercive Power is available when the power holder can exert influence using punishment and threat. Coercive power is generally not that effective in the workplace. When it is used in a way that may embarrass an employee or bring them perceived harm, resistance of the employee to conform may be a side effect.”
The research further states, “Today, hierarchy and authoritarianism are out of fashion, and participation and democracy are in. The cooperation of others in new, knowledge-based organizations is a must. Also, what if authoritarian is wrong?”
This loaded rhetorical question, about whether authoritarianism is wrong, is thought provoking; but I digress to say it is perhaps controversial within some organizations and institutions. Moving from leadership styles to managerial tasks—which partly impact execution—today, sales managers have to lead and manage, since strategy and execution are two sides of the same coin. As such, sales-management strategies must be supported by sales-operations plans, which are more tactical with business processes primarily comprised of sales and service processes, such as: number of calls made, frequency of contacts with customers and prospects, number of sales appointments held and their closing ratio, for example. All of which are good metrics that are used to predict sales results. While the usage of these metrics are universally adopted in most sales organizations; often the important task of assessing business processes effectiveness is ignored or inconsistent, which undoubtedly can lead to a lack of accountability for sales managers and teams. Business processes are effective to the extent they are positively correlated with sales results and are efficient only if they lower the cost of sales.
Whether you are running a business unit with direct and extended teams, comprised of four to two levels of managers; or a business organized by segments with different line managers and want to revamp your sales-management strategy and mastering the art of gaining sales commitments from your teams, I am interested in talking with you—let’s have a conversation!