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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA,

The STORY:

“So,” replied Jim, the sales manager, to one of the recently hired salespeople, “that’s the reason for the monthly sales report being in that format.”

“Excuse me,” said Harry, one of the other salespeople, sticking his head into Jim’s office, “A Bill Larmar, Jr. stopped by to see if you were in.”

“Bill,” yelled Jim out the door, “come in, come in.”

“Don’t mean to interrupt,” responded Bill, walking into the office, “understand you have some new product; thought I’d take a look and see if it fits into our plans.”

“No problem,” responded Jim.

“Bill,” said Jim, “this is Ernie, just recently came on board.”

“Good to meet you, Mr. Larmar; Jim’s mentioned you a number of times. I’ll get out of here and let you two talk.”

As Ernie walked out the door, he heard Bill Larmar say to Jim, “So you still think you can sell me something even though you’ve hired all this young blood to take your place?”

“Sit down, Bill,” retorted Jim, “By the time you leave here today, I’ll have cleaned you out, and you’ll wish you had come in sooner.”

About an hour later, Bill Larmar left Jim’s office, and Ernie walked back in.

“How’d it go?” asked Ernie

“Not too shabby,” responded Jim, “still haven’t lost that closing ability . . . got him to commit to 15 new terminals, one a week for the next 15 weeks.”

“Way to go,” responded Ernie.

“Well, I don’t mean to brag, but there are about ten others like Bill Larmar. Even though I’m sales manager, they still come in here to me to be sold. What am I going to do . . . tell them to deal with someone they don’t know?”

“Sounds like it makes sense,” said Ernie. Then he went on, “Before Mr. Larmar came in and you spent the time with him, you were going to go over my prospecting letter . . . want to get that out so I can start finding my own Bill Larmars.”

“That’s the spirit, Ernie,” responded a grinning Jim.

The RESULT:

Jim made a sale and spent an hour doing it. Could Jim have spent that hour “motivating” his salespeople, possibly setting the scene for more than one sale in the same hour?

DISCUSSION:

Many sales managers are promoted from the ranks—the salesperson who, while not perhaps the top earner, was always consistently up there. In addition, the newly promoted manager is usually pretty good at the weekly paperwork. Understand, there is nothing wrong with these qualities. However, the most important reason for the manager’s existence is not to make sales. His main goal should be to get his salespeople to make the sales, including the ones he used to make.

This is tough for many sales managers to accept—stepping back from the salesperson/prospect situation and coaching others to do it. Why? Because up to now, this was how the sales manager defined what success meant—being a closer.

Now success is something entirely different. In this new position, instead of defining success as closing the sale, it now means what is appropriate to motivate others to close the sale.

Consider for a moment the potential ramifications of Jim’s sale. Jim decided, since it was an old client, to handle the sale. Jim is reinforcing to himself that he is not the sales manager, but still a salesperson. He’s telling the client that no one else in the sales department is qualified to make the sale. He’s telling the salespeople that they are not qualified or good enough to be brought in to meet the client. Should Jim leave the company, this client may decide that since Jim is gone and was the only one capable of handling his business, that he should go elsewhere.

Is this good for the company? Is it good for the other salespeople? Is this taking Jim away from performing the job he was promoted to do?

APPROACH:

The first thing a sales manager should do when promoted from the ranks is to immediately turn over his client list to one or more of his salespeople. The clients should be properly informed of the change, and the sales manager should firmly redirect any sales calls or visits by clients to the appropriate salesperson.

No sales manager who wishes to have a group of salespeople respect him should ever do anything that says, in effect, “I don’t trust any of you enough to turn this over to you—none of you are good enough.”

THOUGHT:

Never make sales to make even more.

 

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