The Game Of Sales

The world series is upon us again this year and what a series it is! On one side, you have the Cubs who have not won a series in 108 years against the Indians who have not won one since 1948. Both teams are from the original leagues when there were only eight teams in each league so they are steeped in history and tradition. And the one thing both teams have in common this year is that they have both been terrifically managed. The Cubs have as their president of operations Theo Epstein who is the guy who put together the curse breaking 2004 world champion Boston Red Sox. And the Indians are managed by none other than Terry Francona who guess what? Was the manager of those curse breaking world champion Boston Red Sox. Now they are against each other Francona and Epstein in this world series. These two baseball geniuses who have both in less than four years taken second division teams to this point where they are facing each other in the world series. Besides being amazing this is also a tremendous tribute to team building and goal setting, which come to think of it is exactly what we need to do when we are managing a sales team.

Managing a sales team is just like managing a sports team. You strive to put the best team on the field and then manage them to greatness. It means just like a sports team you must deal with all the team members as individuals figuring out how to handle each of them from the prima donnas to the underachievers to the rookies and then you must bring them together as one cohesive unit that will work together towards one common goal of winning the game or in our case making forecast.

It means finding and signing the veteran proven superstars and the rookies with great promise and the so-so middling players and coaching and motivating them to greatness.

It means being able to evaluate the synergy among the players so they can all function as one effective team.

But, as I said earlier the most important thing is put the best team on the field or in the case of sales in the field.

But you must be careful because this not as easy as it sounds because nasty little details like lives and families and personal details are involved…or are they?

Yes, they are but you must overcome them. You as a sales manager must have a clear and concise direction towards a defined goal. You must know where you are going. You should know exactly what success looks like. And then you must communicate that to your team so that you will all be rowing in the same direction. In short you have to keep your eye on the prize.

And a big part of achieving that goal is knowing what tactics it will take to achieve it. It will also mean knowing what you can expect from each member of your sales team. This is why fundamentals like target accounts and account plans and account by account monthly forecasts are so important. If you are going to meet a lofty goal you must develop a tactical plan that will can be broken down into a step by step process; a day by day, week by week, month by month, quarter by quarter process that will eventually lead to you and your team making your goal for the year.

By doing this and by also measuring your progress with such diligent you will know always exactly where you are on this journey of making your goal.

But let’s get back to the most important part of the team and that is the individual players or in our case sales people and how we manage them. Here are five things you have to look at when managing a sales person”

  1. Does this person have a passion for sales? Remember you hire passion you teach product. This is critical. Passion cannot be taught.
  2. Is this person a team player? Is she willing to sacrifice for the team?
  3. Does this person treat his job as a career? Does he treat it as something like a craft so that he is always honing his skills and learning how to be better?
  4. Is this person teachable? Does she “know everything” or is she willing to learn new things?
  5. And finally, is this person willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Is this person to work day and night to make that forecast? Is this person willing to work weekends if that is what it takes? Is this person ready to help his teammates make their goals knowing that if they win the entire team wins?

And there is one more…always under-promise and over deliver.

6. Will this person go that proverbial extra mile to take one for the team?

Think about these six characteristics and think about your team. Are they ready to go to the world series? Are they ready to make that forecast and bring in enough new customers and sales to drive your company to have a successful year? You as the manager had better be sure that they are, because that my friend is your job…Its only common sense.

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