How Many Managers Does It Take To Screw Up A Sales Call?

And the answer is one! I have touched on this topic in the past but I would like to elaborate. The problem of taking over a sales call is not limited to new sales managers. Veteran managers fall into the same trap when the salesperson is tripping over their words during the sales call.

There is an inverse relationship between the difficulty of the sale and how fast the sales manager comes to the rescue. Let’s say that your company sells sophisticated software; the rep you’re traveling with has been through training and has been in the field for 2 months. Typically it takes 6 months to get up to speed to be completely familiar with with the product and how to sell it.

You’re in the sales call and Hank, the sales guy, is butchering the call so badly that the prospect’s jaw drops and he’s starting to squirm sideways in his chair. You know that 40% of what Hank has told the prospect is wrong. What do you do? There are some variables here. If this is a small account and damage control can cover the situation I would let Hank travel on his mis-information highway. If the account is $500M in annual sales you probably want to right the ship before Hank sinks it. The question I have is why is Hank making that kind of call with just two months under his employment belt?

If Hank’s doing a reasonably good job and the mistakes are minimal let him go! Your post-call coaching will have more impact when you can discuss specific situations from the sales call. Hank can always talk to the prospect a day or so later to clear up any confusion he may have created.

I have no statistical proof of this but my guess is that if a sales manager takes over the majority of the calls it will take 50% more time for a rep to understand how to sell the product. Invariably, as the manager listens to the sales call, he or she is thinking to themselves-I would have said this in that situation. Everyone sells a little bit differently. What you may think is a perfect approach to a sales call may not fit the rep that you are traveling with. If you try to jam your approach down Hank’s gullet his maturation process will take longer and who knows he may never acquire his own style.

This is one of the toughest scenarios a sales manager will find themselves in. If you’re going to error, error on the side of not saying anything.

The Final Word: Talking comes by nature, silence by wisdom. Proverb


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