Many moons ago when I worked for a pharmaceutical company my “micro-manager” boss used to drive around the metropolitan area and check to see if all his salespeople were working. It was bad news if your car was parked in the driveway because this particular nimrod of a boss assumed that you weren’t working. So much for truth, justice and apple pie! Of course I also had several “don’t-call-me-I’ll-call-you” bosses. If I heard from them once a month I was lucky.
Here’s how a micro manager can take the life out of a good salesperson. In a consulting gig some years ago I was asked to evaluate a salesperson’s performance. The rep’s sales manager was down on the guy and insisted that he should be fired. In the course of spending a couple of days with the salesperson I found out some interesting things. The manager wanted the rep to:
- Complete a daily log of what he did.
- Call at the end of each day with a verbal recap of the same thing the log documented.
- Entirely change the way the rep sold, which was to include more presenting than listening.
- Document reams of senseless information on the customers.
When the rep and I had dinner one night he said that the manager had taken the fun out of selling. When he said this he could hardly keep back the emotion. What a shame! In another twist of corporate stupidity this manager had been hired even though he had no selling experience or sales management experience.
I have always been a proponent of staying out of a salesperson’s way. If you hire a smart salesperson then the odds are pretty good that they will know what they should do. As a manager I wanted salespeople to document the following:
- A good territory management plan.
- A sales behvior plan, which incorporated a prospecting plan.
- How the rep was going to work with their customer service representative.
In addition to that I wanted the reps to be completely familiar with the CRM software and to commit to using it. The rep and I also had expectations for each other. What did the rep want from me and what I expected from the rep.
This is not rocket science! If a directive came down from upper management to execute a new marketing plan or gather critical market information obviously I had the salesperson do the projects but I made it easy and less time consuming. Often I would ask them for the information and record it myself, just because I did not want them slaving over a document that would take time away from working the territory.
The message is “get out of the way of salespeople.” If the salesperson has a plan, knows how to sell, organizes his or her time effectively and works their butt off then they don’t need mother Schaber hovering over their selling lives. Don’t be a den mother!
The Final Word: Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. Stephen Covey