Manage What You Can Control
Manage What You Can Control
My friend Paul is a VP of Sales. He manages two sales managers, a dozen salespeople and several distributors. His company is doing well and he’s excited about the future. At the same time he’s worried. When I asked him about his concerns he shared the following: “We’ve just gone through the most vicious political race in history and the country is polarized. I’m concerned about people’s attitudes and how those attitudes could affect sales. I wish people would just get on with their lives.”
Paul and I both know that arguing about religion or politics leads to a bad outcome in the sales business and, those topics are best avoided. We also know that what happens in Washington, DC does not have much of an impact on most of us on a daily basis. Furthermore as individuals we have very little control over it … none in the short term. Our friends and business associates are the same people they were before the election. They have as much right to their opinions as we do.
So what’s a sales manager to do? The answer is simple. Devote your time and energy to managing your salespeople. Don’t worry about politics and stuff that you can’t control. There’s an old cartoon that shows a Roman slave galley. The caption says, “People who are busy rowing the boat don’t have time to mutiny.” Now don’t run out and buy a whip. That won’t fly today. Someone might just shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.
Start the New Year as follows:
- Have clear goals. Know exactly what you want to accomplish for the coming year … sales, distribution, share of market, etc. Break those goals down by month and by quarter. Then break them down by salesperson or by territory or division.
- Make sure you have the right sales team. That means people who will sell as opposed to people who can sell. You will never achieve your objectives unless you do this. Possibly the smartest money you will ever invest is on a complete sales force evaluation. It will give you a blueprint for success.
- Set clear expectations for each salesperson. Make sure there is no confusion. Be very clear about the activities and behaviors that you expect from each individual. It’s not enough to just set sales goals. You must set expectations for what they have to do to accomplish those sales goals.
- Track each salesperson’s activities, behaviors and results at least weekly. This is your glimpse into the future. You can see trends and take corrective action early in the game.
- Provide ongoing training on sales skills and product knowledge. Keep your people sharp and focused.
- Provide superior coaching. This may be the single most important thing you can do for your salespeople. Everybody benefits from good coaching … even sales managers.
- Hold your salespeople individually accountable. This is between you and each individual. Are they doing the things that they committed to? If not, why not? Everything stops until they do what they’re supposed to do.
- Know when to cut your losses. Only you can decide when you’re flogging a dead horse. If you’ve done all that you can to help a salesperson become successful and it’s not working, then replace them.
My friend Paul now has a plan in place for 2017. He’s organized and focused on the things that he can control. Sure he’ll have some glitches and unexpected set-backs. It happens to everyone. However I have no doubt that he’s going to have a great year. Besides he’s got me looking over his shoulder and asking, “You did what?”
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors sales managers and people who are responsible for the company’s revenue. For more information please go to www.clevelstrategic.com