Sales Management. Simplified. Book Summary, by Mike Weinberg

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Overview

High-performance sales teams are essential to a company’s success. Sales managers must prioritize high-value tasks, prepare and value their team members, and work strategically to achieve goals. Sales gets a bad rap because of the stereotypes we see in popular culture: for example, Arthur Miller’s classic play Death of a Salesman portrays salesmen as being useless and unsuccessful.

It’s important to have a sales team in any company, but it is also essential that the image of a sleazy and stressed-out salesman doesn’t stick.

In this article, the author shares his insights from years of working as a sales consultant and manager. His insights show that management is more important than the salespeople themselves when it comes to creating successful sales teams.

Sales managers often focus on the wrong things. Salespeople who are pushy are just like infomercials and don’t work well. The four R’s of sales is a good way to think about success in sales, because it focuses on relationships, relevance, resonance and results.

Big Idea #1: Managers and sales teams need to avoid distractions that don’t help them achieve their goals.

To become an excellent sales manager, you must first ask yourself two questions: Which tasks do I spend the most time on? And are those tasks important to my success in managing a team of salespeople?

Managers are often overwhelmed by meetings and tasks that don’t help their team sell. They end up wasting time on tasks that don’t drive revenue, which is the most important thing for them to focus on.

The author interviewed a sales manager who once spent time helping the maintenance crew set up for an event instead of his staff.

It’s common for sales managers to be pulled away from their duties because of non-sales related tasks. If this happens it can take a lot of time away from the manager and make them less effective at their job.

Another primary distraction is a customer relationship management system, which captures and analyzes customer data. It can be helpful in maintaining customer retention by keeping the sales team connected with their customers. However, CRM software won’t fix an unproductive sales team. In fact, it can even harm performance as it diverts attention from the real job of sales to updating the system with new information.

Using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) too much and using email excessively can make it more difficult to communicate. For example, face-to-face meetings are even better than emails or texts when communicating with your team members. You should also hold regular meetings for your team members and spend time in the field with them if you want to be effective as a manager.

Big Idea #2: Managers need to stop doing things that they learned as salespeople.

Most sales managers started out as salespeople. This is a smart choice, but since the two roles require very different mindsets, problems arise.

Salespeople are taught to be selfish with their time. They should spend as little of it helping others, because that will hurt their own sales.

Managers should be accessible to their staff and spend time helping them, in addition to completing other management tasks.

Now, being a sales manager and a salesperson at the same time is not necessarily ideal. Many people have tried that approach, but it always results in them underperforming as both a manager and a salesperson.

Sometimes, a business will promote its top seller to manager and ask them to continue selling part-time. However, this can lead to problems down the road. The new manager spends 95 percent of his time on sales and neglects leadership duties.

To be a hero, you simply have to sell. But as a manager, you can become a hero by focusing on other things besides yourself and coaching your team members to do the same.

Managers who are unsuccessful, on the other hand, try to jump in and take credit for their team’s work. This has a negative impact on morale and productivity. It is also intoxicating to make a great sale, but managers who still feel the effects of that high diminish their team members’ chances to learn anything.

One manager was a micromanager and wouldn’t allow salespeople to prepare proposals. He would always step in and take over, which hurt the team’s performance.

Big Idea #3: Managers need to understand the different roles of team members and create an environment that encourages success.

Managers should coach their employees as well as have an eye for talent and know what skills they need. When managers don’t do this, salespeople end up with jobs that aren’t right for them, which leads to poor performance. Managers can solve these problems by making sure everyone knows what his or her role is on the team and how it fits into the larger picture of the company’s strategy. One common mistake managers make is to hire someone from another team who had a proven track record in sales there. This doesn’t work because people are more successful when they join a new group that has been built around their strengths rather than trying to fit into an existing group with different strengths.

Non-compete agreements are used to stop salespeople from using their old contacts. Without those contacts, the salesperson won’t be able to maintain a pristine track record for long.

It’s better to have a strong, consistent workplace and management that is strict. To do this you need quality mentorship.

Sales skills in the US are lacking. This is because veteran salespeople don’t have time to mentor new talent, and it’s up to managers to help with that by making sure effective coaching opportunities are available in the office and out on the field. It also falls upon leadership for being strict with their management style.

When a manager fails to address poor performance, it will only get worse. When managers are more focused on being friends than improving performance, salespeople won’t be happy. A team without justice will soon fall apart.

Bad sales habits include giving commissions to people who have not earned them. This practice eliminates the incentive for salespeople to work hard and bring in new business. Commissions should be based on performance, with a higher commission given for new business than repeat business. When there is no special commission offered for bringing in new prospects, managers shouldn’t be surprised when team members are unwilling to make cold calls or take risks by prospecting for new clients.

Big Idea #4: Managers must train their staff to achieve results.

Many salespeople are not properly trained, which is why many of them fail to make a sale. They’re unprepared for the new breed of customer who has access to all the information they need online. A major challenge facing today’s sales teams is how to attract and retain customers who have more information than ever before. Sales calls aren’t organized or professional enough because there isn’t enough training in place for new members of a team, as well as those making phone calls.

So what should a sales call be like? First, the salesperson shouldn’t start talking about the product. If they do that, it will make them seem like someone trying to sell something and not as a trusted consultant or advisor which is what they want.

A good salesperson will ask questions and open up a conversation with the customer to make sure they know what the customer needs.

A mistake that salespeople make is to respond too quickly when they receive an RFP from a potential client. Instead, they should take their time and consider the opportunity carefully before replying. In fact, in the author’s 25-year career as a salesman, he hasn’t won any deals by responding right away to an RFP. Clients value salespeople who are careful about what opportunities they pursue rather than desperate for any deal that comes along.

Delivering a presentation without preparation is bad, but appearing desperate to please the customer may be even worse.

Big Idea #5: To have a healthy sales culture, the company has to start at the top.

The job of managing a sales team isn’t as hard as it seems. In fact, it’s pretty simple and involves three parts: leadership, talent management and the sales process. Let’s look at the first part now.

Workplace culture is important. It can help improve performance, and it starts at the top and trickles down.

The author points to a time in his career when he worked for a company whose CEO and CFO highly respected the sales department. They had an energized culture that was rooted in healthy competition and camaraderie, as well as performance-based compensation. The reports were public so that everyone could be held accountable.

Now let’s look at a software company that was failing in sales. The problem started with management, which didn’t understand how sales worked. Management gave confusing directions and had an unclear strategy. In the sales office, there was no excitement because people were clicking their mice all day long to get work done.

Good sales managers will create a healthy culture by encouraging direct and open communication, as well as trust. They should be honest about their criticism and make it clear that it shouldn’t be taken personally. A good sales team should also focus on results with intense coaching for new hires and help the team meet common goals. Everyone in the team should trust one another and feel confident that they are indeed a team, not competitors out to sink each other’s fortunes.

Managers and executives should not waste their employees’ time with useless tasks, unnecessary meetings, or constant calendar and email checking.

Managers should focus on mentoring their salespeople and providing opportunities for one-on-one discussions.

Big Idea #6: Manage Your Talents

Managers should do four things to create a healthy sales culture. First, they must put the right people in the right roles. Sales hunters are rare and can only make up 10-20% of a sales team. Therefore, managers need to ensure that their top talent is placed where it will be most effective. Second, managers must retain top performers by rewarding them for their hard work and dedication. If you don’t reward your best sellers, then you shouldn’t be surprised if they leave your company. Finally, managers should pay attention to Mike Weinberg’s four R’s of successful talent management: putting the right people in the right roles; retaining top performers; and rewarding them for their hard work and dedication

Instead, recognize excellent work and support your top sellers. Find out what’s preventing them from doing even better and help them overcome those obstacles. You can also be creative with the rewards to offer a spot on the next company retreat for example. The third R is to replace underperformers who don’t improve their performance even after you’ve given them time or training.

When an employee is underperforming, there are three steps to take. First, it’s important to clearly identify the problem and communicate with the employee about how they can improve their performance. Then, a plan should be created that involves cooperation and coaching so that expectations are met. If improvements aren’t made or expectations aren’t met after this process has been completed, then termination will occur.

Finally, the recruitment process can be improved. During an interview, you can ask two simple questions that will help you determine if a candidate is right for the job or not. First, ask them to provide details about their last two successful deals. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll have no trouble answering your question and providing examples of their skills. The wrong candidates will panic or give a thoughtless answer. Second, ask them to describe what they would accomplish during 90 days given complete freedom from supervision and responsibility (if possible). Good candidates will provide impressive plans; bad ones won’t know how to respond or give an unimpressive plan

Big Idea #7: Managers must be clear about the goals they want their team to achieve and ensure that those goals are attainable.

Managers should equip their teams with the tools they need to be successful. However, those tools aren’t very useful if the ultimate goal isn’t clear.

Therefore, managers should always work with their team to come up with a list of specific targets. They should consider which customers and prospects will be the focus of the team’s efforts. Salespeople often have big goals but it’s better for them to aim for a smaller number of carefully selected targets so that they can give each target enough attention and follow-up contact.

Salespeople need to have a sales story. It’s the most important thing in their toolbox because it’s used in everything else they do, from cold-calling to closing deals. A sales story is also known as an elevator pitch or value proposition and it needs to be strong enough that people will buy your product without you having to use any other tools.

Generally, sales stories can always be improved. The worst ones are boring or overly complicated. They’re also more focused on the salesperson than the client and don’t have a good structure to them. To avoid this, help your team members prepare succinct and captivating sales stories that focus on clients rather than themselves.

Salespeople have been using the same tools for a long time, and they still work. Managers should always monitor their salespeople’s use of these core concepts to gauge how well they’re doing.

A good sales manager should ask their team these questions: How much research have they done before a call? What kind of insightful questions do they prepare during the call? After the call, what information do they record and share with others?

Big Idea #8: Managers should take part in one-on-one meetings and team meetings to make sure they are effective.

Once the sales team is in action, a good manager should focus on monitoring their progress. The most reliable monitoring happens during monthly one-on-one meetings that allow you to see where they’re at and agree on where they’ll be headed. My former manager, Donnie, used a three stage evaluation process for this purpose. During these meetings he would take his notepad and sales report and sit down with his staff members. He would first review the results of their efforts from the previous month to determine if they were making progress towards achieving their goals or if there was room for improvement. If it seemed like things were going well or could use some work based on those numbers, he’d encourage them by saying something like “Keep up the good work.”

If a salesperson wasn’t meeting their quota, Donnie would first see if they had enough opportunities to get back on track. If not, he would go to the second stage and ask what they were going to do in the upcoming month. If there was nothing scheduled for that next month, then he’d move on to the third stage and ask them what they’ve been doing all this time. He’d use a calendar to figure out how many opportunities could be set up so that salespeople can meet their quotas by the end of the year.

This is a great way to encourage teamwork and build camaraderie. It’s also an effective way for the sales manager to get information about his team members’ personal lives, which will help him better understand them as people. Furthermore, it’s good for the sales manager to review how each person did in terms of reaching their goals and recognize those who excelled or improved greatly.

The last bit of advice is for managers to get out into the field. They can’t effectively lead a sales team from their desk, so they should go out and see what challenges the sales team faces.

Being on the field with your team will strengthen relationships with them as well as key customers.

Full Summary of Sales Management. Simplified.

Sales Challenges

Managers face many problems. Some of them are caused by unrealistic demands from executives, and others result from corporate cultures that work against the salespeople and their leaders. If a manager performs poorly, so will his or her team. Salespeople create problems for their managers when they focus on products instead of customers’ concerns, and when they fail to push for new business.

Sales management is difficult because salespeople are hard to manage, direct sales are challenging, compensation plans can be confusing, corporate cultures do not support sales teams and leaders judge their staff based on how busy they appear to be rather than on the value of their new business.

In some companies, sales managers are required to do many tasks that don’t involve selling. Furthermore, they must deal with hundreds of emails every day. Customer relationship management (CRM) should make the whole process easier and more efficient but often becomes a burden for them because they have to spend too much time on it rather than helping their employees generate new sales.

Some sales managers come into their jobs from positions outside of sales. Some may have management experience but not be great at selling, and some may take excellent sellers with no known leadership abilities and promote them to sales manager. Their teams suffer as a result.

Sales Managers Who Don’t Manage

When a company’s sales aren’t going well and its salespeople don’t meet their quotas, it is usually because the managers are ineffective. They may not be coaching employees or differentiating between the talents needed for different roles in sales teams. Managers might also fail to monitor calls and give feedback on performance.

Some sales managers don’t pay enough attention to achieving their sales goals. They don’t communicate the goals or clarify how they’ll evaluate the people who work for them. Some of these managers are afraid that if they set clear expectations, their employees won’t perform as well.

The Plusses and Minuses of Sales Reports

Companies use sales reports to track the performance of their employees. These reports compare sales from one year to another, measure how much each employee’s quota was met or exceeded, and rank everyone based on how much they increased their sales over earlier periods. They also tally new accounts and those lost during the period in question. Finally, they calculate what percentage of their yearly targets were hit by each employee.

Sales reports are essential, but many companies stopped producing them after the 2008 financial crisis. With sales plummeting, corporate leaders remained optimistic and didn’t want to disappoint their salespeople with negative reports of plummeting sales. They also wanted to retain their best employees during those economic times by making compensation plans more competitive.

Sales Management Challenges and Solutions

Sales management is more than just sales. It includes building a company culture, strategic planning and setting targets for the team to achieve their goals.

Sales managers handle a lot of HR-related tasks, including recruiting and hiring, setting compensation levels for employees, mentoring people and retaining good workers. They also have to deal with bad hires and helping them improve or get rid of them.

To increase your sales, focus on three things:

1. “Sales Leadership and Culture”

To create a positive sales culture, identify the attitudes, values, goals and practices that your salespeople share with each other. Create a goal of having superior sales performance for everyone. Have meetings where people are held accountable to their goals. Reward the right factors in selling so that your employees will be motivated to do better work.

A positive sales culture is vital to a company. Executives should be in touch with their salespeople, and the two groups should work together as a team. Salespeople are an important part of the organization, and they have lots of energy and enthusiasm for what they do. They love competition, and they’re always looking at the scoreboard so that they can try to get ahead. They push themselves hard because it’s fun to compete against other people on their team; however, this also helps them improve their skills so that everyone does better overall.

2. “Talent Management”

Recruit the best people you can find and do all you can to maximize their potential.

The Best Way to Manage the Talent You Have is by:

  • Businesses should make sure that the right people are in the right roles. Hunters, who excel at prospecting and securing new business, shouldn’t be assigned to farmer-zookeeper jobs or vice versa. Businesses should also retain top producers because they’re high maintenance and will leave if they aren’t happy with their situations.

  • __“__If salespeople don’t produce, they must be replaced. It’s the manager’s job to find out why someone underperforms and replace him or her. You should give new people time to learn their jobs; if they don’t improve after several months, it’s okay to fire them. This teaches other employees that you believe in everyone on your team and demand results from everyone.

  • Managers should always be recruiting because they never know when someone will quit or what new opportunities may arise.

3. The “Sales Process”

When it comes to sales, managers can help their team members by providing them with the best prospects. They do this by both identifying new customers as well as current ones that are ready for upgrades or expansion. However, not all managers take this step and they often fail because of it. This is because they mistakenly believe that their salespeople already have a list of potential leads but in fact many don’t develop strategic plans to reach those leads.

Salespeople are not rewarded for how many prospects they contact. They get paid when they close deals, so their managers should coach them to examine whether the accounts they’re pursuing offer the best opportunity to close new business; whether they have been contacting only old customers and prospects with no fresh ideas; whether there’s a different way to manage accounts or territories that would be more strategic; and if their customer relationship management work is up-to-date.

The “Sales Story”

Sales managers must ensure that their salespeople have the resources they need to do their jobs and are well-trained in social media. They should also be able to ask good questions, give effective presentations, and offer facility tours and references. It’s important for salespeople to research their prospects sufficiently before a meeting, solicit input from them during the meeting, and get buy-in from them at the end of it. Sales managers should make sure that they have all of these things covered so that sales meetings can go smoothly.

Sales managers need to teach their salespeople the importance of a good sales pitch. A great pitch is easy for people to understand and should cover all relevant points about your product or service. It’s important for marketing efforts, too.

Stories are a powerful way to get people’s attention, explain the benefits of your products and services, justify your prices, differentiate yourself from competitors, and position you as an expert.

The Annual Sales Plan

Managers must monitor their salespeople to make sure they stick to the plan. Salespeople should write out a yearly plan for themselves, including these components:

  • — Set specific goals. Metrics are important for measuring performance. Some possible metrics include “total revenue or gross margin goals, number of new accounts acquired, dollars sold to both existing and new accounts, and product mix.”

  • Strategies for salespeople include having a blueprint and a set of tactics. Actions that are positive steps to achieving goals include making calls, initial face-to-face meetings, presentations, and so on.

  • “Obstacles” – Sales managers and their teams often face a variety of obstacles. They may have poor training, they may not understand their customers well enough, they might be restricted by corporate policies or insufficient travel funds, etc.

  • Personal development is a field of study that involves growth and motivation. Salespeople need specific tools to help them achieve success. They also must report their sales activities and results, as well as identify the prospects in their pipelines. Sales managers monitor these reports to gather information about their teams’ performance. The right forms should be available for this purpose.

“Magic Bullets”

Many sales managers are looking for a magic bullet that guarantees leads, full pipelines and the ability to close every deal at full price. However, there is no such thing as a magic bullet in the world of sales. If you stick to fundamentals like offering value with your product or service, it will work for you.

Sales managers must focus on the essentials. They need to get their team members to build revenues by increasing sales. On the other hand, they are not supposed to work long hours, attend a lot of meetings or send and receive hundreds of emails every day. Instead, they need to fix problems that arise in the company and produce results for the organization.

Sales Management. Simplified. Book Summary, by Mike Weinberg
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