CEO Alert – What’s Wrong with Your Sales Management Team

Yesterday, I was the keynote speaker at an Executive Luncheon, addressing around 175 CEO’s.   It was a typical audience that responded in a typical way – except for a couple of them.  One attendee (not a CEO) wanted to know how his large company could be more effective getting people who appeared to be a good fit to actually succeed.  He also said that while they wanted to improve in that area, he wasn’t willing to change their processes, tools, sequence, management involvement, etc.  Consider this analogy: You’re sick, taking medicine and the drugs aren’t working.  The Doctor suggests changing meds to help you him get better and he prefers to continue using the drugs that aren’t helping.  Stupid?  Only if we grade him.

Another attendee (not a CEO) asked how he could get his salespeople to use the sales force automation tools they had in place.  I explained how to use the power of accountability – make it a condition of continued employment – to get compliance.  He countered with the lame excuse that his top salespeople would probably leave.  I explained that most accountability measures aren’t for the top people because they’re  producing.  Accountability is for the ‘B’s and the ‘C’s.  He pushed back,  explaining that his company isn’t allowed to have different rules for different people.

So change the rules!
He can’t.
Stupid?  Only if we grade him.

He agreed with everything else I said in my two hours.  This behavior is so common among excuse makers.  They discredit two minutes of information from among two hours of content to convince themselves that they can continue to do what they’ve always done, despite admitting that it doesn’t work.  This is how they justify and validate their previous ill conceived decisions.

These are great examples of what’s wrong in sales management.  Sales managers often believe that they have all the answers when, in reality, they don’t even have the right questions.  They’re also very hesitant to change because their experience doesn’t provide them with confidence that they can get something new to work. Note to sales managers – if you don’t know what to do, ask, listen and act!  Note to CEO’s.  Don’t automatically believe that since your sales managers are in the role, they’ll know and be able to execute the appropriate strategy.  Sales Management is an incredibly undertrained sector and most sales managers don’t have the slightest clue what they should be doing to maximize their impact on the sales force.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.