Feasts, Failures and Food for Thought

Jim Gustafson

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It’s the year end. It’s holiday time. It’s time for banquets and budgets. Along with assorted food items accumulating in the office, most companies are deep into their budgeting process. Those responsible for revenue are getting the emails, calls, and memos saying “more. ” Those controlling expenses are getting emails, calls and memos saying “less. ”

It is the same stuff different year. Cut the cake and cut the costs. Have some sweets and sweeten the revenue. When all the snacks have disappeared and the office party is only a blur, the revenue goal will have been set and the expense budgets confirmed. The sales manager’s food for thought will be, “What can I do to hit my number this year?” The answer may well be the calculated and consistent avoidance of the top three mistakes sales managers make.

I hasten to add, I have made each of these mistakes myself more than once. I have observed them habitually being made by others. They creep back into the sales manager’s life like dessert into a diet. They are neither new nor surprising. They are simply the most common mistakes made. Because they are so common, the corrections are simple. A disciplined approach to correcting each is a sure ticket to a better revenue feast in the year ahead. Go ahead, help yourself.

1. Mistake: Feeding the weak: -Giving your weakest producers the biggest cut of you management time sandwich. Because your biggest producers are producing, you invest your time in the lowest producers. What would time and support for your best producers do to your overall revenue picture? Often a 10% increase from the biggest producers will be greater than a 20% increase by our weakest producers.

Correction: Feed the Strong first

2. Mistake: Ignoring the food you ordered -Sales people respect what you inspect not what you expect. Have in place and pay attention to a sales activity reporting system. Most companies have one, but do most sales managers check it daily? Asking sales people to report their activity and outcomes is basic to the sales management process. Reading their reports and examining their input daily is a primary management task. The fact is, as managers, we dislike reading the reports just as much as most salespeople dislike creating them. Writing and reading the reports, however, must be a non-negotiable element for everyone, including you.

Correction: Feed on the food you ordered

3. Mistake: Failure to feedback: - If you ask sales people to do something and they do it, acknowledge it. If you ask them to do something and they don’t acknowledge that too. It goes to the heart of mutual respect and accountability. Reading sales reports is one thing, taking the time to let a sales person know you have done so, is another. A quick and specific note that indicates that you have read the report is not only courteous it is productive. It says you are paying attention, care, and take them seriously. Sales reports and feedback are a critical communications vehicle in the well run sales organization.

Correction: Feedback what you’ve been fed

Three steps to making next year better:

1. Feed the Strong first
2. Feed on the food you ordered
3. Feedback what you’ve been fed.

Dig In!



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