Effective Sales Leadership and Training
The sales manager behaved incorrectly and unprofessionally during and after the sales call. He was more of a constant distraction to Joe, the account manager, rather than a helpful leader. His presence during the sales call is probably among the reasons that Joe did not succeed in pitching the product to the customer. The sales manager’s incessant twitching when the sales call was not going according to plan must have made Joe really nervous. In addition, his scribbling and passing of notes to Joe informing him of what to try net were not only ineffective, ill timed, ill-mannered and unprofessional, they were also a distraction to the already struggling account manager. The sales manager was only there in an observatory capacity but he ended up contributing to Joe’s failure because he could not simply sit still and observe.
According Johnston and Marshall (2013), the sales manager has the biggest impact on the performance of the sales representative. However, these individuals are usually too busy to coach their subordinates because they have succumbed to the pressure of meeting the demands of the senior management and customers. Their role as sales manager slowly turns into an administrative role rather than actively trying to train their sales team.
Many aspects of this scenario support the observations that Johnston and Marshall (2013) made in regards to the poor sales leadership and training we see across companies today. The sales manager does not take the time to coach Joe effectively about the techniques that would have worked during the sales call. He does not coach him on the techniques that he should employ in the future so that he can make a successful sales pitch. The sales manager is more concerned about the backlash from his Vice President rather than on improving Joe’s performance so that he can meet his quota.
Rather, he lectures the already dismayed accounts manager on all the things he did wrong such as not mentioning all the amazing benefits of the product they had gone to sell. He points out all the issues with his pitch but does not inform him of where he should improve and how this improvement should be carried out. He does not even offer some words of encouragement to the sales representative so that he does not get disheartened.
According to Paling (2013), the field of sales is all about confidence in oneself. The sales manager should have realized this and proceeded to reinforce his belief in the sales representative. Joe is in obvious need of a confidence boost and as an effective sales manager, the senior individual should have recognized this and acted accordingly. Joe would be more open to suggestions from his superior after a confidence boost.
The sales manager does not seem to realize that Joe’s poor performance is indicative of his own failure to adequately train his sales team. Johnston and Marshall (2013) observed that most sales representatives fail to meet their regular quotas owing to lack of proper supervision from their sales managers. It is obvious that the sales manager has not been spending enough time coaching and training Joe and thus his poor performance in meeting the company’s sales quota.
The sales manager should have understood his role at the meeting. He was there to observe and not distract. He should not have been passing notes to Joe as this only served to confuse the sales representative. Writing and passing these notes must have made the customer very suspicious and uncomfortable. This distracting behavior could also have contributed to the loss of the accounts. He should have been focusing on Joe’s behavior during the sales call and the customer’s reaction to the sales representative. This information would have been useful in determining the way forward in improving Joe’s future performance.
A good sales manager coaches his sales team with future sales in mind rather than prodding at past mistakes. Coaching is all about training the employee on how to better his sales pitch. It is also about identifying some of the common mistakes that other salespeople make so that the sales team does not make the same errors when making their sales pitches to prospective clients.
With this in mind, the sales manager should have provided some useful tips that could be useful to Joe in his next sales call. The sales manager should have observed Joe throughout the meeting and mentally noted some of his mistakes. He could then use the information he had gathered to take Joe through some of the basics of making sales pitches as well as some of the mistakes he saw Joe making. In pointing out Joe’s mistakes to him, the sales manager should have done it in a friendlier tone so that he does not continue to shake Joe’s confidence further.
In addition, the sales manager ought to have been more sensitive towards Joe’s feelings especially after the bad run he had been having lately. The manager should find ways of boosting Joe’s confidence because sales representatives need to be confident people for them to deliver on their sales targets. The manager should have encouraged him by pointing out that everyone makes mistakes while in the field instead of bellowing his disappointment with the sales representative.
Johnston, M.W., & Marshall, G.W. (2013). Sales Force Management. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.
Paling, S. (2013, Sep 20). How to deal with underperforming sales reps. The American Business Magazine. Retrieved on 7/2/2016 from http://www.americanbusinessmag.com/2013/09/how-to-deal-with-underperforming-ssales-reps