The most dominate reason for failing, as a sales manager is apparently invisible to most managers.
Most manager's feel it, see it, experience it... they just don't recognize it! They can't see the forest for the trees. By the time you finish this article you will have the reason and the solution to make your business grow.
You may think you already know the reason most managers fail. Just for fun, stop for a moment and come up with what you think is the number one reason (before I share this revelation with you). Please, do not continue until you have the answer that you think is correct.
Now, why do you think I want you to answer the question first? Simple! If you happen to have the wrong answer, then the right answer will have much more impact on you. Kind of like, "AHA!"
OK... have your answer? Then let's continue.
Understanding: Failure as a sales manager is probably created by the same attributes that made someone successful as a salesperson.
As a salesperson you focus on your personal results, not someone else's. To be a successful sales manager, you must take off the salesperson hat and put on the Sales Manager's hat. Your job performance will now be evaluated by the results achieved by someone else.
Some Sales Managers do not instantly recognize this fact. Many good managers were only average as a salesperson. However, their empathy, work ethics, sound judgment, etc. paved the way to promotion. You can be a great manager without being a great salesperson.
Interesting point: Where does the word "Manager" derive from? Man---Ager. Aging of man, or maturing those people under your supervision. No easy task. Especially if the person on the next rung up the organization chart from you, continues to expect you to maintain the same level of personal productivity that you achieved prior to your promotion.
Step One: As a new manager, get things started off on the right foot by making sure that you and your boss (or supervisor) are on the same page. Ask questions to make sure you understand exactly what your boss (or supervisor) expects in the way of results.
Your team's results, directly impact your job security, especially in today's environment. Make sure expectations are realistic. Come to a mutual understanding. That completes Step One.
Here is what traditionally happens next. You invest tremendous time and effort in training someone. Just when you have them producing results, they get another job offer, relocate, or simply quit for personal reasons.
Then the whole staffing process starts over again.
- Running an ad.
- Interviewing on the phone.
- Conducting a one-on-one personal interview.
- Classroom training.
- Field training. (And on the smaller steps in between.)
When you add it up, it's a lot of work. And this brings us to
The No. 1 Reason why most sales managers' fail.
It's called TRAINING PROCESS FATIGUE.
I relate Training Process Fatigue to the childhood experience of cutting weeds. I hated doing it. Not because I was lazy. I just knew those weeds were going to come back. My distaste for the job was in having to do the same thing over, and over, and over. No real, lasting sense of accomplishment. I hated it... so I avoided the task whenever possible.
The same applies to training sales recruits. You get tired of doing the same training over and over. So you either do a substandard job of it, or simply don't train at all. (Let's face it... it's easy to come up with excuses when we don't want to do something... or at the very least to find something else, less important to do. This helps us overcome the guilt factor.)
You may not have given this much conscious thought up until now but the perceived futility embedded in your subconscious mind impacts your conscious action (or lack of action).
Training Process Fatigue... This syndrome manifests itself in various ways.
1. You are exhausted.
2. You do not see the value, so you rarely train.
3. You look for ways to avoid training, etc.
It gets a little bit boring doing the same things over repeatedly, with no (or very little) sense of accomplishment.
So why not delegate this work to someone else? Someone that is (possibly) even better at sales training than you are. Someone, who will show complete consistency, every time, without tiring. Sound good? (I'll show you how in a minute.) In the meantime
How do you prevent TRAINING PROCESS FATIGUE?
Answer: Retain your people with outstanding training.
If your salespeople are successful you stand a great chance of keeping them. Now, when you train, it is to increase your sales force (and productivity) rather than to replace exiting salespeople.
How do you provide outstanding training?
I'm going to give you a couple of quick, helpful tips, but they aren't revolutionary. You probably already understand them, even if you don't use them.
1. Start by taking your training much more serious. Understand that the time and effort you put in to each salesperson, up front, can (if done right) yield long term dividends. Work hard upfront, so you don't have to work hard long term. It's really the easiest way to reach your goals.
2. Have a planned training process, and be thorough. Most managers do just the opposite. They spend just enough time to give the new recruit some basics and then expect them to learn the rest at the "School of hard knocks". (These managers are already worn out.)
Inadequate training also promotes a hostile attitude on the part of your new employee. They're not stupid. They know whether you really made an honest effort to give them the training they needed to be successful. They may not say anything, but they will remember. This feeling, on their part, may come back to haunt you at a later date.
Use common sense. Remember, these people will impact your job security. Gain their respect.
Don't assume anything in training. Test everything.
- Ride Along on their appointments.
- Closely monitor their results.
- Keep a pulse on their attitude.
- Listen to your people.
It's kind of like any other animal. If you pay attention, they will tell you if they are happy or sad. Happy people don't leave! Unhappy ones do (by their choice or yours). Keep them happy!
Our next understanding, equally important, is that training is an ongoing process.
· You'll conduct training to increase the size of your sales force.
· When you replace a departing salesperson.
· When you introduce new products. (Etc.)
Training is dynamic, not static because change is a constant.
Herein lies the challenge. There are only so many hours in a day. Training may not be your only responsibility. In fact it usually isn't. If you are the owner of the business you probably wear many hats. When this happens training can oftentimes be overlooked (or subconsciously avoided). This is where you need to utilize outside sources and
PUT YOUR TRAINING ON AUTOMATIC PILOT
You should try to use every tool available to make your job easier!
Now, I'm going to provide you with a couple of simple solutions that will save you tons of time every single week and make your experience as a manager much more enjoyable.
Two primary areas of training:
You must train on product (What you sell.)
You must train on activity (How you sell.)
Solution 1 (For Product)
Product training should be easy. Use collateral to leverage your time. Have you designed materials that describe your product(s) and outlines each feature and benefit? You don't need to take up your time explaining your product again-and-again to new recruits. (But most managers' do exactly that.)
Why not make up a catalog (or) flip chart (or) brochure (or) audiocassette (or) training film (or) combination?
It's not that difficult and it will save you a mountain of time. This also allows your training to be consistent throughout the organization. You're not subject to how you feel on any given day, or forgetting to cover an important topic. It's relatively inexpensive to prepare materials and offers a big payback.
Make sure you also used pre-designed tests for retention. Inspect what you expect! (A small reward, for high scores, never hurts either.)
Solution 2 (For Activity knowledge)
How do you teach salespeople to create sales?
You may have a unique product or service, but solid sales techniques will generally work with any product or service.
Teaching salespeople how to generate leads and close sales is much more difficult and time consuming than teaching product knowledge.
Be realistic. Maybe your background does not qualify you to teach someone. (Salespeople can spot your shortcomings immediately.)
(Or) maybe you have such a unique method of selling that it is not reproducible
(Or) and this is probably the most common reason for inadequate training YOU ARE JUST PLAIN WORN OUT!
Let's face it. There are thousands of small businesses out there, that have elected not to grow, simply because growth would require hiring and training new personnel or employing a full time sales trainer.
Once again, use outside resources. There are more than enough books, tapes, and sales related materials at your fingertips. Determine which materials are the most closely related to your product or service and method of generating business. Outside professional help does not necessarily have to be accompanied by a physical presence. Wouldn't that save you a lot of time?
In conclusion, training should not be viewed as an interruption to your business. Simply prepare, train thoroughly, expect ongoing training, and let outside resources/tools (whenever possible) do the work for you.
Eliminate Training Process Fatigue forever.
Put your training on autopilot
Take the first step (it's free).
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