What’s the biggest frustration for sales managers?

Front-line sales management can be one of the toughest jobs. In many ways, you’ve a lot of responsibility – but you’re dependent on your team to deliver. At times you need to be a blend of manager, business analyst, coach, therapist, counsellor, and the list goes on. Whatever the mix is, there are always highs and lows, times when you are excited and grateful for things that go well, and then there is the rest of the time – well when you can be infuriated, dispirited, discouraged, dissatisfied, enraged, discontent, vexed … ok you get the message. But what bothers you the most? And, most importantly, what can you do about it?

A recent survey on LinkedIn tries to answer the first question – and the results are in. Reps not following the sales process is the biggest frustration among the respondents to the survey. I’m not surprised with that answer. But looking at the other ‘frustrations’ listed (Sales forecast accuracy, Deadwood in the pipeline, Stop/start activity, and Deals getting stuck), I can’t help but wonder if they too might be resolved if the sales process issue was fixed.

Now, there are only two reasons for non-compliance with any directive. The first is lack of knowledge or ability, and the second in lack of desire. In others words, either they can’t do the task, or they don’t want to do the task. The first – once uncovered – can be fixed with training. The second – unwillingness, or lack of desire – is harder to address.

Here’s the thing. Most sales professionals understand that following a well designed sales process, that is easy to use, fits their business, and solves for the effort/reward equation, is a no-brainer. Use the process and you sell more – period.

If you’re the sales manager, and you’re directing your team to use a sales process, the 10 questions you need to ask yourself are:

  1. Does it match how our typical customers want to buy?
  2. Does it fit our industry, product or service?
  3. Do all the supporting departments in the company understand the sales process, so that they can have a productive conversation with the sales person?
  4. Is it easy to use and integrated with your CRM?
  5. Does compliance with the sales process make sales forecasts more accurate – or does the sales person need to waste time on that as well?
  6. Does the sales process have built-in steps to remove deadwood from the pipeline?
  7. Does it guide the sales person to win the deal, and not just force him (her) through internally focused steps?
  8. Do you manage deals, using the sales process as your compass?
  9. Have you integrated the necessary marketing support / tools / collateral all through the sales process, mapped to the buying process?
  10. Have you integrated skill/methodology/best practice learning at each step – that can be called on as needed?

If you can answer yes to more that 7 of these questions – then you’re probably not that frustrated, and your sales team is probably performing pretty well. If you can’t, then don’t blame the team for not following the process. Fix the deficiencies first.

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