Is Your Sales Operation Shrouded in Smoke or Fog?

There is a forest fire burning on a mountain about 10 miles or so from our house today. I looked at the smoke on the mountain and I thought about how difficult it must be to maintain control and make progress on the ground in such conditions. Even with today’s technology it is a very challenging environment to work in. Similarly, one time I was fishing in Maine and on the boat ride back in we were completely fogged in. The captain was spittin’ mad when we came upon a boat that was not broadcasting the necessary beacon that would have allowed him to “see them” in the thick fog. Fog and Smoke make your work difficult and dangerous.

Do you need to clear the fog and smoke created at the sales and sales manager level? Have you been frustrated by your inability to get real data and real answers from your sales management team? I am sometimes asked to help VPs of HR or Sales VPs to hire better salespeople – but how do you know that the talent of the salespeople is the problem? Is “Fog” or “Smoke” covering up what is really happening? How long does it take because of sales cycle or ramp up time before you know if a salesperson is going to be successful? Do you have salespeople on your team that are muddling along and staying because of fog or smoke?

Managing sales managers and/or sales people is tough. It’s difficult to know what is really going on sometimes at the sales person level, especially when there is a manager in between. The reasons for this “fog” are many. Sales managers who double as hiring managers do not want to admit that they made a hiring mistake. Sales managers are eternally optimistic and never want to give up on someone (which can be a strength!) and, of course, they know that if they manage a salesperson out then the sales manager will have to recruit.

Sometimes they will have to recruit in a market where the candidate pool is very shallow, and often the manager may have to work the open territory. Sales managers tell you good stuff and get “happy ears” about what their salespeople are saying because managers fail to ask deep, clarifying questions to cut through the smoke of the salespeople. Finally, sales managers want to believe what their salespeople are saying.

As a result of this fog, a lot of money is wasted in businesses across the U.S. and around the world on sales training, sales automation tools and lead generation, or digging up data to provide to salespeople who use lack of data as an excuse. This money is wasted because these businesses missed a critical step. They did not take the time to determine if the sales training or other measures were really what was needed and if the sales managers were going to be able to carry any initiatives forward.

After leaving a role as VP Sales, I learned there are indeed ways to get better data about your sales organization in order to make informed decisions. I discovered that you can find out which salespeople can likely be saved and which cannot, thus saving you months of agony, piles of money and gobs of missed opportunity. You can look at your sales managers side by side to see who is effective at Coaching, Training, Motivating, Accountability and Recruiting. You can determine whether or not salespeople are making excuses and blaming outside factors and if WHOLE TEAMS are making excuses and blaming others. You can compare your sales team, sales managers and salespeople against the known benchmarks of thousands of sales forces. You can determine where to start when managing your managers. You can determine how to spend your limited resources dedicated to development and training.

Are you frustrated by the fog and smoke and inability to get solid data on effectiveness at the sales and sales manager level? Grab a time on my calendar to learn about a sales force process that will cut through the thickest fog and smoke.