Field Sales Leaders generally have multiple responsibilities, each one competing for the manager’s time;
Revenue – overall production, margins, pipeline and making joint sales calls.
Predictability – forecast, CRM adoption and usage.
Cost of Sales – time utilization, resource application, pursuit costs.
Sales Development – quota attainment, turnover ratio, ramp up time, coaching, training and general development of team members.
Unfortunately the Time Management Matrix in Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” comes back to haunt us again. In case your misplaced your copy, the third habit is putting first things first. My overall take was that we are always responding to those items that have a due date (urgency, but little importance). and in doing so we steal time from more important tasks simply because there is no due date associated with them. Guess which of the tasks above does not have a time frame urgency attached to it? Give up?
If you guessed coaching, training and general development of team members you would be right. So if the top sales officer of any company want’s to know the one thing that will have the single biggest impact on sales THIS YEAR it would be to free up field leader’s time, and demand that time to be invested in assessing, coaching and developing all team members. Okay, so you’ll get around to it next quarter, right?
In the movie “12 O’Clock High” (1940) General Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) is assigned to a poorly performing bomber squadron. The group was demotivated, and their current leader mired himself in administrative duties when he wasn’t busy commiserating with his group. The first thing Savage did was to get out of the office and fly lead in the missions. He didn’t do this to become a member of the team, or to show what a good pilot he was. He did this to find out where the team’s gaps were and then lead them back into high performance.
General Frank Savage (in his first address to the squadron) : “There will be a briefing for a practice mission at 1100 this morning. That’s right, practice. I’ve been sent here to take over what has come to be known as a hard luck group. Well, I don’t believe in hard luck. So we’re going to find out what the trouble is”.
So, Chief Sales Officers, if you want what ever the optimal results are for this year think about this option. Clear out the in-baskets of your field managers and insist they invest no less than 50% of their time assessing, coaching and training their sales people. It is more important this year than every before. Do it this week. No! Do it today!