How Can I Find a Good Sales Manager for My Company? (Part 1 of 2)

[This month, SSI is delighted to welcome security industry sales guru Lou Sepulveda as an exclusive online columnist.]

I’ve been asked the question posed in the headline above hundreds of times in the past usually by alarm company owners who were stuck in a sales/production rut. Their company wasn’t growing, and the company owner/president/CEO was trying to do everything, wearing all the hats in the company.

The classic symptoms of a company badly in need of a sales manager is a company who has between one and four salespeople and cannot seem to grow beyond that point. When the company hires the next salesperson they almost immediately lose one and are right back to where they were previous. Sales are flat, or worse, dropping month to month and they just can’t seem to get past the sales rut they are stuck in. This company badly needs a sales manager to recruit, hire, train, motivate and manage additional salespeople and most importantly, increase the company’s sales production.

To properly answer the question “How does a company find a good sales manager?” We must first ask ourselves a few other questions. They are;

1. What would my Sales Manager’s responsibilities entail?
2. What should he or she be doing on a daily basis?
3. When would I consider my Sales Manager successful?
4. How do you measure Sales Management success?
5. What experience should a Sales Management candidate posses to be considered?

There are many more questions that could be asked, however, the five mentioned above represent a good start in narrowing down the search for a good, or better yet, great sales manager.

Starting with the first question, what are the responsibilities of a sales manager, I must tell you that in my experience I have met with companies whose Sales Managers were really mini general managers based on their job description and what was expected of them. These Sales managers spent the majority of their time managing reports, and in one case the manager also managed the installations of the sales made. The problem here is that the manager’s time was spread so thin he didn’t have time to focus on the elements of sales management that really make a difference between sales success and failure.

If you really dig into Sales Management I believe you’ll find that the primary responsibility of a sales manager is to develop salespeople and grow sales. All the reports ever conceived are worthless if the manager accomplish the above.

So then if you agree the sales manager’s job is to develop salespeople and grow sales then you have to ask, how does a sales manager accomplish that task?

In my humble opinion a sales manager grows sales in the following way:
a. By recruiting good salespeople – A sales manager’s major responsibility may be to increase sales but please know that his minor is constantly recruiting.
b. By knowing what a successful salesperson should be doing on a daily basis to be successful.
c. And then by managing and measuring the daily activities of each salesperson in their charge to assure they are completing the daily activities needed for success.
d. By providing personal, one on one, coaching to salespeople when deficiencies are discovered.
e. By boosting the morale of the sales force on a regular basis.
f. By spending time in the field with each salesperson with the goal in mind of uncovering any weaknesses, praising success, and helping the salesperson become a better salesperson.
g. By setting daily, weekly, monthly and annual expectations for the sales force tailored to each individual salesperson’s personal goals and ability so as to achieve corporate goals and expectations.
h. By conducting regular, productive, sales meetings designed to educate and recognize sales success.
i. By leading through example.

To answer question No. 3, when is a sales manager successful, the answer is simply when he or she achieves, meets or exceeds the goals and expectations set by the company. But the bottom line is when he or she grows sales.

I received a call recently from a company owner who asked for my help as a consultant. The problem he said he was having is as follows. He said he hired a sales manager approximately a year and half earlier with the goal to grow sales. The problem he said was that sales had not increased since the manager was hired. I asked him how he selected the sales manager. He said he picked the manager from his existing sales staff. He went on to say that his sales manager had experience in sales before joining his company and he was a successful salesperson with his company prior to being promoted to sales manager. So he assumed the successful sales person would also be able to be a successful sales manager.

He was partly right. The successful salesperson could become a successful sales manager because he had some of the qualities needed. He certainly demonstrated an ability to sell. We could assume he knew what a successful salesperson should do on a daily basis to be and remain successful. Although I’m sure you know the danger in the word ASSUME. And the company owner assumed the sales manager would then be able to hire, train, motivate and manage other salespeople he was responsible for.

Experience has taught me, and I’m sure many of you, that just because a salesperson is successful selling does not mean he or she will be successful as a sales manager.

We continue this discussion in my next column with Part 2 of this topic.

Lou Sepulveda has more than 35 years of electronic security experience. He has been a leader in sales techniques and dealer development for companies such as ADT, ITI and Security Associates Int’l (SAI). Sepulveda, who is also a published author of well-known security sales method books, presently offers consulting and training to help companies achieve their sales growth goals. In the 1990s, he was a regular contributor to Security Sales magazine with his “Top Notch Sales” column. Listen to him in his “Security Speaking” podcast appearance.

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