Improving Team performance

Improving Sales Productivity Begins and Ends with the Sales Manager

Martice E Nicks Jr asked:

So you want to improve your sales team’s performance.

There are so many places to try and squeeze additional performance improvements out of your team. The question is…where do you start?

Do you start with better tools like Sales Force Automation (SFA) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM)? Maybe implementing opportunity, account, and territory management methodologies would work. How about improving sales skills? You could train them in value/relationship/consultative/collaborative/strategic selling or negotiation. The truth is if your company is weak in any of these areas you could experience improved performance by addressing them head on.

I can hear some of you groaning already. I know you invested thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement new tools, processes, methods, and training before, but it didn’t stick or you got marginal returns on investments.

Sales Productivity Secret #1

No matter what you choose to improve, if you don’t focus on the Sales Managers first the improvement initiatives will only deliver short term results.

The Sales Managers are the key to sustainable performance improvement.


Because they are responsible for hiring, training, developing, directing, planing, coaching, communicating expectations, measuring success, and managing change on a daily basis. This is where the rubber meets the road!

I have worked with hundreds of Sales Managers from small businesses to fortune 100 companies over the last 5 years and the vast majority of them were great salespeople that got promoted to Sales Manager. Most of them have spent years struggling to develop the heart of a manager. Most have developed their management systems and skills through trial and error or imitating previous managers.

Each quarter brings constant pressure to hit the numbers and each year the pressure mounts as their companys’ raise the bar. Sooner or later the relentless drive to bring in the numbers causes the Sales Manager to fall back on what they know created success for them in the past. Instead of leading and developing the sales team they become “super closers” that get the job done by setting the pace, directing activities and closing sales.

So what’s wrong with that?

If your company does not require the sales manager to carry a book of business (they have a personal quota or list of accounts to call on) then they are doing the salesperson’s job. The very skills that made the Sales Manager such a great Salesperson are the obstacles to developing an Elite High-Performance team.

The Sales Manager’s role should be to develop a management system that continuously improves the performance of themselves, the team and the individual sales professionals, in addition to managing the business.

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