Sales Management For The Business Owner

Managing sales people is never a walk in the park but it is more difficult when you own and run a company. Here is a great quote from one such person. “I’m not good at managing salespeople; I am good at running companies. My hope is that if I hire the right people and give them some direction they will succeed.” Whoa, dude, please tell me that you didn’t say that!

When I heard that comment I maintained a fairly happy face but I really wanted to plant my size 13’s on his throat! Whenever someone uses the word “hope” in the same sentence with succeed there is something vitally wrong. If you have not hired salespeople then finding the right ones will be a challenge. Giving them some direction is better than none but it is well below what most salespeople need considering that only about 7-10 percent of the salespeople are skilled professionals.

I look at this situation in the following manner. What if the owner has maintained some accounts and continues to grow them? Or if he or she does not have accounts they spend considerable time networking in order to grow the business? And let’s not forget running the business. Here is the real question. How much does it cost the owner if he or she does not have the right salespeople and they are not selling effectively or being managed effectively? The cost obviously is lack of sales or deterioration of existing business. Either of those are the death knell of a company.

Is it possible to hire the right people and expect them to grow the business? Yes it is. What percent of the time wil that happen? I’d say less than 10 percent of the time although I have no hard proof to support that. If the owner has 1 or 2 salespeople it is possible to manage that size group and still execute other responsibilities but once you go beyond 1 or 2 problems will multiply.

Many owners will say that they cannot afford a sales manager and they may be correct but what is the cost if you don’t bring a manager on board? If your expectations are that the salespeople should create a half million dollars or more of new business every year and they bring in $150K then the answer is simple-hire a manager. You’ve already lost over $350K of potential new business How long can you afford to do that? It won’t get better so why not spend a $100K plus to bring on a manager?

If you’ve already risked your time and money to start a company why not risk a little more to grow it?

The Final Word: We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. Charles R. Swindell




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