Common Sense Rule (CSR) Number 3: Sales Managers Need to Be in the Field!

The sales manager who spends more time in his or her office instead of working with salespeople in the field does not understand their job! I wonder what salespeople thought when they were promoted to manager. Wonder how big my office will be? Finally I’m away from the daily grind of calling on customers! Come to think of it what will I do during the day? Uh oh, I’ve got responsibility for 8 salespeople! As Frank used to say on Everybody Loves Raymond-Holy Crap!

I am not a proponent of sales managers learning their trade through “assmosis”. If you’re thinking that’s the gig don’t apply for the job. If you are wondering about the job here are some ideas:

  1. Set expectations early with your salespeople. What do you want them doing everyday? What don’t you want them doing? How much time should they spend prospecting new customers vs. farming existing accounts? How do you expect the salespeople to interact with inside customer service, marketing, manufacturing personnel?
  2. Document how you want the salespeople to sell. If you have 8 salespeople each of them will have their own selling methodology. Some will ask questions, some will present the product first, some will wing it. Ask yourself this question: How do I want my salespeople to sell? There are plenty of sales methodologies to choose from. Pick one and adapt it to your company, product, and marketplace.
  3. Evaluate your salespeople to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Use the tools available. Google assessments and you can take your pick. If you have an HR department they might already use one. Review the completed assessments with each salesperson.
  4. Work in the field with each of your salespeople as soon as it is feasible to do so. Tell them what your goals are for the trip. People respond better when they know what to expect. Before making calls or at the end of the first day tell the salesperson what you expect of them and ask them what they want from you. (You’ll get major points here, believe me.)
  5. When you’re done working with a rep give them some verbal feedback on how they performed during the week beginning with the positives. When you get back to the office document this and send it to the rep with specific items they need to work on.

This is a minimum action list. The more you try to do in the first six weeks the less effective you will be at specific items. You’re in this for the long haul.

Almost forgot. If you’re gong to travel fifty to seventy-five percent of the time make sure your significant other knows this ahead of time. Promotions are great but they’re better when your partner or spouse understand this.

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