What better way to strengthen your sales management skills than through some mind exercises. On a weekly basis I will create a sales management scenario that will provoke some thought. I’ll offer feedback at the end of the post.

Here’s the situation. You’ve been a sales manager for a couple of months and you’re about to make your first sales call with one of your reps who has been with the company for 2 years. His name is Bob and he’s done a pretty fair job of increasing revenue in his territory. Your company sells some high precision tool and die equipment for companies that do precision molding for several different industries. Bob has never called on PDT industries although the company is in his territory and has generated revenue over the past several years. The two of you are calling on the shop manager, Dave, who Bob has never met or talked with. Bob doesn’t know a whole lot about the company but did make a cold call to get the appointment.

The shop manager comes up to you both and Bob says, “Dave, nice to meet you. I’d like to introduce my sales manager, Tom.”

There are the usual hand shakes and banal talk about Minnesota weather, the Vikings and Twins and then the three of you are in Dave’s office. As you both sit down you notice that there are several major awards given to PDT for the quality products they deliver. Bob starts the meeting by saying, “Dave, you’ve been buying from our company for a couple of years so I thought it was about time we met. We’ve got quite a few other products and some new offerings as well that I thought you’d be interested in.” Bob opens his catalogue and proceeds to talk about several of the products and also fires up his laptop for an on screen demo of a new product. Bob drones on for 20 minutes and finally ends by asking Dave what he thinks. Dave says, “Well, Bob, some of those new products are pretty interesting but we’ve been happy with our current vendor and I didn’t see anything that looks any better.” Dave then looks at his watch and stands up saying, “Sorry, fellas but I’ve got to head out. I’m on my way to a meeting with a new client. Thanks for stopping in.”

Bob packs his stuff up and you both leave. You and Bob make a couple of more calls during the day and head back to the office.  

There are 10 items (and probably more) in this scenario that need work. They are:

1. The manager should have been out with this rep earlier than two months after taking the management job.

2. The manager never asked the rep for an objective or goal for the call.

3. The manager should have had a post-call de-brief with the salesperson reviewing the call.

4. Dave did no research on this company before making the sales call.

5. The rep should have called on this account earlier.

6. Neither the manager nor the salesperson referenced the awards the company had earned.

7. Neither the manager nor the rep thanked Dave for buying from their company.

8. The rep asked zero questions about PDT’s business.

9. No questions about why Dave likes his current vendors.

10. The sales rep did not set up an agenda at the beginning of the call nor was there a call to action at the end of the call.

These are the most obvious of the omissions. As I said there are more. The manager’s job is to hold the rep accountable for why they are making the call on this account, what the goal for the call is, researching the account thoroughly before the call, evaluating the account for possible other products they can buy etc.

The Final Comment: The sales manager’s responsibility is to help salespeople build structure into their sales life. 


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