When sales results are poor in a given territory is it the fault of the sales manager or the sales rep? Or is it both the rep and the manager? One would have to examine in detail the individual situation to make a determination. Senior management should certainly do their homework before pulling the trigger on one or the other. In addition, and potentially more important is to determine the specific needs that must be addressed in order to meet your sales objectives. For example if you have a team of seasoned sales professionals that have consistently hit their numbers quarter after quarter and suddenly things have changed then maybe sales management might have something to do with it. Especially if a new sales manager has recently been hired. Along the same lines if sales have recently picked up, and the only change that was made was a new sales manager then most likely he or she had an impact. These two examples are somewhat obvious based on the facts.
It becomes more complex when you have a history of strong sales rep performance along with a sales manager that has been in place long term. In other words you have a sales team that has been together for several years and for some reason the quarterly numbers are not being hit. Senior management is scratching their heads! This manager and team have always hit their numbers and now things have changed. The sales manager is continuing to do his or her job as a manager and the sales folks continue to do their jobs as sales execs. But the results have changed. What should senior management do? Fire the long standing sales manager? Fire all of the sales reps? The answer might be do neither. The answer might be bring in an independent party to take a unbiased look at what has changed. Sometimes sales management, as well as senior management are too close to the situation and have a difficult time “seeing the forrest through the trees”. In this case someone from outside the company can provide a completely independent analysis and potential solution.
Perhaps the sales team has gotten a bit complacent. Maybe they could benefit from some “outside the box” thinking from an independent source? Or maybe its time to focus on some fundamental sales truths that we sometimes forget. In my experience a sales manager is typically not the right individual to focus on these areas. Its difficult for a sales manager to wear two hats. He or she has too many other responsibilities running the district or region to dedicate enough time to sales coaching or mentoring. Additionally, coaching is a much different skill than managing. Coaching is in the trenches, on a one on one basis. It’s a very hands on relationship that requires dedicated time and commitment . It is highly unlikely that a sales manager could dedicate enough time during the business week to mentor sales reps without significanlly impacting his or her other responsibilities.
To draw a comparison to a baseball team, the manager runs the team, you have a hitting and pitching coach, and the players perform on the field. There is no substitute for one on one coaching. This is not a management function.
When companies are looking to boost sales performance the answer might be to hire a sales coach and not a sales manager.
A good start would be to read; What They Don’t Teach You In Sales School”. You will quickly learn if you need a coach or a manager. ” Universal Sales Truths” is a resource to assist in these matters.