Delay the Inevitable

It comes as no surprise to me when, in some of the weakest sales organizations, the executive in charge wants to hold off the  sales team evaluation until a new sales director is hired. Whether the title is VP, Director, or Sales Manager; Whether the geography is International, National, Regional or Branch; Whether the scope is division, channel, product or people; the reasons are often the same. The boss wants the new manager to buy in to this evaluation.

Let’s talk about this further. We’re evaluating because something is malfunctioning in the sales organization and the reasons for underperformance aren’t apparent. We can deliver answers inside of 7 days. A new sales manager, without the benefit of our insight, could take 8 months to a year to figure out what’s going on and, in all likelihood, still won’t come up with the answers. In most of the companies we evaluate, the managers have been in place for quite some time and don’t have the answers because they aren’t looking in the right places.

There are three more components to this puzzle. First, the new sales manager doesn’t want our help. They believe that upon joining the company, it is their responsibility to identify and solve the problems. They want to be the hero. They will strongly resist getting outside help. Second, the results of the evaluation of the sales organization provide so much intelligence for the new sales manager to instantly utilize. It will identify the real problems, explain why they exist and suggest the actions to solve these problems. This information would be invaluable to a sales manager walking into an underperforming organization. Third, if we completely understand what the problems are, we can look for a potential sales manager with experience in solving problems like these! If it were me, I’d love to be able to look at a potential sales manager, hand the results of the sales team evaluation to him and ask, “What would you do about these problems?” It sure makes the interview more interesting and it makes it much easier to identify the right sales manager.

All this brings us back to the CEO. Sometimes protocol just isn’t as practical as pulling the trigger. What happens when protocol gets in the way? Another hiring mistake. This time on the management level. Nothing changes for 8 months. And then the wrong moves are made because the new sales manager doesn’t have the right information. By then it’s too late and there’s more turnover. That’s what failing and low morale do to an organization.