A medium-sized software company was experiencing eroding market share, tougher competition, and slipping value proposition. The company had invested heavily in different kinds of sales training, including sales tactics, major account planning, and how to talk with “C”-level executives. However, 75% of the sales people were missing their quotas and overall sales were flat. The worldwide Sales VP was looking for a way to boost their numbers.
We conducted an evaluation of the sales management team, focusing on their sales process, sales activity, pipeline, accountability, coaching, and sales management skills. We discovered that most of the sales managers had been top-performing reps who were promoted into sales management. They had never been given the skills, tools, or clear expectations of what was necessary to do their job.
We started with a two-day custom sales management training program to teach all of the managers the science of sales management. The philosophy behind this is that sales are like a factory with consistent predictable results when run properly. By the end of the two-day training, each sales manager had created his or her own “sales factory.” We then installed a three-month implementation accountability program with the aim of getting the managers to step up or be weeded out.
Within thirty days, the weak managers did weed themselves out, as expected. The other managers stepped up in varying degrees, with about 5% doing exceptionally well. In the next six months, overall sales went up 27%.
The Common Mistake
One of the two most costly mistakes a company can make is to promote its top sales rep to sales management. Statistics show that 82% of top producers who are promoted into sales management go back into sales at another company within eighteen months. This is like taking your top-scoring basketball player at the height of the season and making them the team coach.