When Sales Tank, Who’s Accountable?

When Sales Tank, Who's Accountable

Sales managers aren’t getting much sleeping these days. Looking for opportunities to place orders is an enjoyable character building experience. In the meantime, the economy continues to sluggish through sales executives and their supervisors look for solutions that keep their businesses on the right track.

Management is aware that some companies have dramatically reduced their inventories however, they also recognize that there are some companies that continue to buy and need to share in the action. If they don’t see that happening the executives will usually make changes to sales managers or change the structure of the sales team. It’s a predictable course actions, particularly in the event that they’re not familiar with, or may have forgotten how sales people struggle against Teams One on the battlefield. The problem could be the management.

Expectations can be a source of stress.

For instance, expectations from management could be more than the capabilities of the sales force. This is a common scenario when there isn’t an exchange of ideas between management and the sales manager in order to set an agreed-upon sales goal at the beginning of each year. Motivation is usually integrated into the process via the sales incentive program which lavishly rewards those who excel. However, the goals should be achievable, they must to be stretch goalsthat usually require an outstanding performance. When management and the sales manager in the same boat and with realistic expectations, the risk of being unrealistic are reduced or even eliminated.

Since salespeople perform high-risk/high-reward job and have high risk/high reward, executives who do not have experience in sales might consider the benefits earned by their sales personnel as unjustified and a burden on their budgets. In the end, they could be inclined to limit the size of the salesperson’s area of responsibility or the number of accounts he manages as a subtle strategy to reduce the amount of commissions that salespeople receive. In addition, salespeople are faced with competitive and skilled opponents that are equally eager to get their commissions. Therefore, getting results is not by any not guaranteed. Implementing and maintaining a organized incentive program is important to keep and attract those who excel.

The reality isn’t always as they appear.

A reliable organizational support system is essential for ensuring continuity of service to customers even when a salesperson is away from calling potential customers or clients. Support staff sometimes see their sales representatives enjoying customers, taking off into exciting locations to meet potential customers and accompanying the company’s President to visit the account, or getting invited to a golf excursion. It is not uncommon for employees of the office getting jealous of their sales representatives, who are compromising their dedication to support for sales. What the office staff don’t observe is their salesperson getting called home around 9:30 pm only to hear a furious customer inform them that the salesperson’s product failed and the production line being shut down. After running to the plant of the customer to resolve the issue the salesperson is finally home around the time of 2:00 am. The office staff don’t even look at the face of the salesperson when she finds out, after four long months of researching specifications and manufacturing issues for her customer , that the order that was promised was going to a competitor that did not do the work however, offered a less expensive cost. Management must ensure that all support personnel are aware of and comprehends the multiple and vital role of sales personnel.

In the end it is the sales team that is responsible

If sales drop Do not be too fast to put the blame on sales staff. Make sure that sales objectives have been jointly reached, a reasonable incentive program is in place, and the company provides the needed assistance. Make any necessary adjustments but in the end the sales force will be accountable.

John Riley is president, Business Counsel Associates, a business development consulting firm with its headquarters within Phoenix, AZ. John has also been a teacher for classes in business management for business professionals in Paradise Valley Community College and a former columnist in the field of business strategy in The Business Journal.