The transition from selling to managing

Five critical differences between selling and managing The first responsibility of sales reps is to develop accounts. They must be able

The transition from selling to managing

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planned well when:

  1. He and his supervisors have reached agreed-upon objectives to be attained by a specific date, and have charted a course of action for achieving these objectives.
  2. Each of his salespeople has agreed-upon objectives to be attained by a specific date and has determined upon a course of action for achieving these objectives.

 

Developing a plan of action

 

There are undoubtedly many methods a field sales manager can use to develop a plan of action. One method may work better for one person than for another. The following method has been found effective when properly employed and is presented as an example of one way of getting this important job done. The procedure is to plan for at least a full day with each sales rep and to work out agreed-upon objectives for that reps growth and development during the period ahead. The field sales manager must do some preparatory work for such a meeting, and the following steps are suggested as necessary:

  1. Sales manager should have before he the company objectives he has been given by his supervisors.
  2. Either sales managers own office or the head office must furnish various kinds of statistical material that he and his salespeople will need during the planning session.
  3. Sales manager must tell his salespeople in advance what is going to take place so they can prepare for it.
  4. Manager must arrange a place for the planning session.
  5. Sales manager should think through carefully how he can develop objectives that will enable him to manage by specifics.
  6. You should think through carefully how you can develop objectives that will enable you to manage by specifics.

 

Implementing the plan

 

Lets now move on to the next major step implementing the plan. Field sales manager performs this part of the job when:

  1. He has the right salespeople to do the job.
  2. He supervises these reps to make sure they are reaching their agreed-upon objectives.

In short, what we have is a plan of action for each sales rep working under the field sales manager. These individual plans also include specific steps for achieving the companys overall objectives. The field sales managers own plan of action is to help each sales rep achieve objectives.

Basically, your job as manager is to improve the thinking of your people because they usually perform alone. It is therefore essential to get them to perform well in your absence. To do so, salespeople must be thinking along the same lines. Implied in the achievement of this goal is recognition that a manager will never get anywhere until he makes reps want to change their habits and improve their thinking.

Another important concept is that field contacts between sales manager and his sales force must have continuity.

In planning sessions with each of reps manager has mutually agreed on what each is to do to achieve the objectives that have been set. Showing them how to do the job is also the field sales managers responsibility.

The field contact has additional goals, which must also be kept in mind. One of these is the reduction of staff turnover. Sales reps who might otherwise become discouraged and leave for another job are stimulated by field contacts to become valuable members of the team. The managers field work with salespeople will improve their performance. As they become more productive sales reps, they feel more secure in the job, take greater satisfaction in their work, and often strive for promotion. Thus the field contact, when properly planned and performed, can do wonders. No report can give so accurate a picture of the performance of sales reps as may be obtained by seeing them in action with a customer. Their strengths and weaknesses become apparent, and the latter can be more easily corrected when they are encouraged with commendation for any progress they have made.

 

Key accounts

 

The field sales managers responsibility for key accounts varies with the particular company. In general this responsibility is of two kinds:

  1. Direct responsibility. The manger is personally charged with selling and developing important accounts within the district or region. No other salesperson is involved.
  2. Indirect responsibility. One of the sales reps is directly responsible for the account.

 

The appraisal process

 

Efficient appraisal by the field sales manager consists of the following:

  1. Regular evaluation of the progress made by each of your sales reps toward agreed-upon objectives.
  2. Regular evaluation of your own progress toward such objectives.
  3. Recognition of what must be done, an understanding of how to do it, and the allocation of time for that purpose.

Three significant criteria for the appraisal of a sales rep are:

  1. The description of sales reps job. The rep agreed to this description in accepting the job.
  2. What, specifically, is expected of the sales rep? In other words, What are the standards of performance? This list includes figures such as the expected dollar volume or the number of units sold in a given period, the number of new accounts opened, the maximum amount of money allowed for expenses, and any other specific and/or measurable requirements of the job.

3. The objectives for the reps development and growth.

 

The informal appraisal

 

Manager is constantly appraising each of your sales reps. He must decide whether to discharge the marginal sales rep and how much time he can properly spend with a new salesperson as against an older one. In making appraisals, manager continually uses sales figures and other statistical data.

Lets list some of these other measures for appraisal.

  1. Sales reps must be willing to learn. They must be anxious to improve themselves and receptive to instruction.
  2. Sales reps should be happy in their job. They should be enthusiastic, excited, and interested in each days operations, well motivated, and able to keep their long-range objectives clearly in view.
  3. Sales reps should possess and use the ability to plan. They should employ their time effectively; schedule the work for each day, week, and month; plan each interview carefully.
  4. Sales reps should be able to conduct an effective sales interview. They should know to carry through effectively any part of sales interview, including the interview with a receptionist.

Among the more important matters to be appraised in determining whether a sales rep is really moving ahead are the following:

  1. Presence of strong motivation and a sound attitude toward the job and the future
  2. A record of steadily increasing sales volume and steadily increasing earnings
  3. Definite improvement in those areas in which the manager has felt coaching was required
  4. Definite progress in the development of an increasing number of accounts with good potential
  5. The continual development of new accounts
  6. Willingness to assume responsibility, to handle tough situations in the territory without supervision, and to try new methods and ideas suggested by the boss
  7. Ability to manage his or her personal life successfully

Managers appraise and coach sales reps each time they are in the field with them. Only thirty minutes may be involved, but the meeting does bring the sales rep and the manager closer together. When skillfully conducted, it presents the manager to the sales rep as a helper. Statistical material is reviewed, and the intangible qualities that make for success are discussed. The manager and the sales rep reach mutual agreement as to what must be done to achieve maximum results. The conclusions reached in such a discussion are sometimes reduced to writing by the manager, and a copy is sent both to the sales rep and to the managers supervisor.

For the accurate appraisal of a sales rep, there is no substitute for direct field observation. The key word is action. It is this insistence upon action following a field contact or review or informal appraisal that gives continuity to the entire supervisory and development process going on between the field sales manager and the sales rep.

The formal appraisal

 

In contrast to informal appraisal, the formal appraisal covers a longer period six months to a year and requires the use of specially prepared forms. The latter can be quite formidable to the point where they often confuse the field sales manager, who is more accustomed to selling and field work than to the intricacies of complex paperwork. Unfortunately, headquarters sometimes becomes so intent upon forms and their use that the real purpose of the appraisal is all but forgotten. The field sales manager must realize that the only value of a form lies in the information entered on it.

Preparation for the formal appraisal is a continuing task. Sales manager has a folder for each sales rep and throughout the year he files in it all specific evidence that will substantiate his appraisal of a sales reps performance.

Preparation also involves recognition of the fact that manager cannot and must not appraise a salesperson he does not know reasonably well. People who are new in the organization or whom manager has rarely seen cannot be accurately appraised. Sales manager should therefore plan and carry through enough field contacts with his sales reps that he will know them well enough to appraise

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