Congratulations, Now You Are the Sales Manager
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Growing revenue in a printing business has never been more challenging. The clients are difficult to reach, the sales cycles for enterprise level accounts can be long, and the lines between customer service, account management, and actual selling are blurred. The good news though is that you’ve accepted the challenge and have been anointed as the sales leader for the business. Congratulations, now let’s get to work.
While the overall goal is to profitably increase the top line, there are many steps you’ll need to take along the road. Whether you are a selling owner, a selling sales manager, or full-time sales manager, the journey begins. Let’s start with the first four key areas that will form the foundation of your efforts: your role as a leader, the sales team, your sales plan, and sales team performance.
Determine what your leadership strengths are and how they will best help you in this new assignment. There are many tools available to help assess the areas that you are great at, what you are good at, and where you need help. From the simple to the complex, assessments such as Predictive Index, Harrison Assessment, Caliper, and the like, will all provide objective insight that you can use to establish your personal leadership baseline. Taking one of these assessments is the easy part. Using the results as a guide for your continued development is what separates the best leaders from the others.
How will you lead? Are you a teacher, a coach, an administrator or all three? For example, teaching and coaching can make the role effective, but it should also fit within the boundaries of your personal leadership style. The answer to how you approach the role should be based on the needs of the organization, the journey, and the team that you are leading.
The Sales Team
What does your team look like? Who do you have, what are their current roles, and what are they good at? While everyone usually says we need more “hunters,” and they may not be wrong, the fact is you’ve inherited a team that you now need to take to the championship game.
While every company has a sales team, the scope of their responsibility is not an industry given. In fact, it’s usually all over the place. Some reps have a drop and run style while others micromanage every step of the way. You’ll need to determine what the sales team does well, and where the line between selling, account management, and customer service is.
You’ll need a plan, a guide that spells out your current state, future state and how you’ll get there. These strategic parts should be included in your plan:
- Revenue and profitability goals
- Tactical elements that include lead generation, new business development, targeted business segments and verticals, your sales process for growth, the metrics you’ll use, sales training and development, recruiting, and client feedback mechanisms.
- New products or services that will be brought to market.
- Sales plan support to include estimating, customer service, manufacturing, administrative, finance and human resources.
- Marketing and sales support strategy
- The economic outlook and assumption for you markets and customer verticals.
There are many elements of a good sales plan. Once completed it’s time to set expectations, monitor, coach, and repeat.
Sales Team Performance
It’s valuable to have clear job descriptions and expectations for each member of your sales team. While this may sound basic, common sense is not always common practice. Leaders typically meet with their reps to review results either monthly or quarterly. They work to understand what worked well and what needs improvement, and to re-emphasize the company’s best practices. The goal is to promote an environment of continuous improvement – “how will we be better today than we were yesterday.”
Leaders are clear in their communication to the sales team. If they want the reps to try something different, they tell them. They don’t disguise it or make them guess what they are thinking. They do things on purpose and are clear about their strategy.
Your one-on-ones with each of your reps will be valuable – if you make them be. Be prepared, ask thoughtful questions, listen, share insight and wisdom so that you both leave the meeting better than you were going in.
Have a clear picture of where you want to go and engage your team to make it happen. If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these issues, please send me a note, or include them below.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.