If you’re a business owner, then I know you place a lot of responsibility on your inside sales manager. In many companies, managers are not only responsible for finding, hiring and developing successful reps, but they are also responsible for training these new reps and for the continued training of existing sales reps as well. Sales managers are also directly responsible for the achievement of reaching quota each month, quarter and YTD. In addition, managers are often responsible for reporting on daily, weekly and monthly progress, with motivating the sales team and with proper management of lead resources, sales pipelines, and many other reporting processes. When you add up all the duties and responsibilities of your sales manager, it can seem overwhelming and begs the question of you as the owner – how do you manage your manager?
The answer to that question for most owners is they manage their manager and the sales department through a series of sales metrics sometimes called sales dashboards (there are many other names for this, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about). These dashboards have a variety of metrics and statistics on them including lead conversion percentages, closing percentages per rep and for the team, pipeline numbers and percentages, time on the phone, number of calls, etc. These metrics are important for predicting revenue and directing activity and lead distribution and for measuring the trend of sales for the month and quarter, but they don’t do what you have hired your manager to do – drive sales.
All the metrics listed above have one fatal flaw when it comes to driving sales – they are snap shot of what has happened in the past. They are a rearview mirror look at what your team has done up to this point, and as such, they are ineffective for driving or improving current sales. This is a hard point for many business owners to accept, because experience tells them that if the team just works harder, makes more calls and contacts, then deals and revenues increase. The problem with this is that increased activity (say 10% more calls) doesn’t result in 10% more business. Again, these metrics, while important, aren’t what drive sales.
And that brings us to the point of this article. What drives sales isn’t the activity around the sales (the metrics listed above), but rather it’s the activity that takes place during the sale that determines results. It’s what your reps are saying during the prospecting call, during the call backs, and how they handle the objections and stalls that occur during the close. It’s what your reps say and how they handle the smokescreens and put offs on the third and fourth calls that determine how much business they write. And when it comes to measuring these crucial activities, most sales managers and business owners don’t have a system or a process to do this, and so they don’t have the means of truly impacting and consistently improving their sales results.
The good news is there are a series of steps and processes you can use to do this, and it’s the way that successful business owners effectively manage their sales managers. To start with, your sales manager must get more involved on the sales floor and more involved in listening in during the prospecting and closing calls. Your manager must be able to step in and affect the sale while it’s in progress. There are a variety of ways for them to do but these exceed the limited scope of this article. I will list a resource you can turn to for more information on this later. The important tool for you as the owner, though, is a script grading adherence form.
If you’re not already using a script grading adherence form, then this should be your first priority to develop. In a nutshell, a script grading adherence form breaks down each part of your sales approach or script, and assigns a numerical grade to each section. For example, your reps are graded on how effectively they get past the gatekeeper, greet and build rapport with the decision maker, handle initial objections, qualify prospects, create commitments at the end of calls, etc. The total grade will be 100, and it’s your manager’s job to grade live calls or recorded calls to see how well each rep is adhering to your best practices and solid inside selling skills and techniques. This is the only metric that truly measures what matters most: how skilled your reps are at navigating their way through your sale.
Think about your Top 20% closers for a moment. Wouldn’t you agree that they almost intuitively know how to qualify and close prospects more effectively? Aren’t their leads almost always more qualified, their close rates higher and their closing cycles shorter? Don’t they seem to handle brush offs and objections more effectively? Aren’t they more confident and empowered? Now compare them to the rest of your team. Isn’t it true that the other 80% struggle in all of the areas above? Again, the metrics that make up most company’s dashboards don’t affect your rep’s ability to get better in these crucial areas. They simply measure past results. Only measuring and grading what your reps do during the sale has the ability to drive sales.
The best way for you as a business owner to manage your sales manager is to make sure they monitor, grade and coach their reps through the sales cycle and offer specific, effective sales skills and techniques for their reps to improve. And the best way for you to manage this is to add a section to your dashboard called “script grading adherence percentages.” Remember, until you know how your sales team is performing during the sale, you won’t be able to effectively change the other metrics that measu