crisis_managementI just returned from sunny Marco Island, FL where I was speaking to a group of business owners about sales management. Actually the title of my program was “Ineffective Sales Management Kills Growth… Duh”. The group included both business owners who directly manage their sales teams as well as business owners who have dedicated sales managers.

As I usually do I discussed the 5 essential skills of effective sales managers: Coaching, Motivating, Holding Salespeople Accountable, Recruiting and Mentoring. By the way you can download my new eBook, The 5 Essentials of Effective Sales Management, on this topic. Without fail, when I talk to groups of business owners, they understand what I am saying. They know that either they or the designated sales manager needs to spend the bulk of his or her time doing these things. As I have discussed before, they really need to spend 80% of their time on these five essential skills. So I polled the group to find out where they think their sales managers spend the bulk of their time. Here is the list I gave them, from which to choose:

o Coaching
o Motivating
o Recruiting
o Holding Salespeople Accountable
o Crisis Management
o Internal Company Issues
o Managing Compensation Plans
o Organization/Reorganization
o Strategy
o Direct Selling

The vast majority of the group, I mean two-thirds to three-fourths of the group, said that their sales managers spend the most time on Crisis Management. Oh, holy crap. That is horrible. So I have let that sink in overnight, and have determined why that is. I am not sure I have the complete answer, but I think it is something like this. Most business owners cannot get their arms around the fact that sales success is fairly scientific and they tend to believe that it is more of an art than a science. They, therefore, do not have prescribed KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for sales managers. There may be KPI’s for salespeople in the form of closed business, closing ratios, calls and appointments, attempts, etc. But KPI’s for sales managers, it probably just consists of closed business for the group. So what do we expect? When we just give people an end goal, without a roadmap to follow which would enable them to more effectively reach that goal, they are left to their own devices to determine where to spend their time. The recommendation I have is that sales managers need detailed roadmaps. They need to know what the expectation is regarding coaching frequency and scope, regarding motivating and how, regarding holding salespeople accountable, etc. AND, they need to know what is and is not acceptable regarding crisis management. If your sales manager is spending a large portion of his or her time on crisis management then you need to know about it and the problem needs fixed.