Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sales Is A Process...

My daughter called me and asked for some of the issues I faced as a manager and how I overcame them. This was for her assignment. This is what I wrote. Do you agree? :-)

One of the biggest headaches a manager faces is when people don't do things on time and are not clear what is it they are supposed to do. Normally the issue are vague statements such as OK I will do it. When you check with them they normally miss their deadlines. In sales management this is very serious as the sales team can miss revenue targets amounting to millions of Ringgit. Typically a four man team would generate close to RM20 million in annual sales revenue.

Major multinational companies like Fuji Xerox have a process of overcoming this by defining the areas of ambiguity and use specific documentation to help breakdown the required activities and guide the inexperienced executives. The critical role here is for the manager to understand and implement the process on a regular schedule. In the beginning the manager has to spend a considerable amount of time coaching the sales people on how to go about on using the tools and be familiar with the common terminology (language) so that everyone can communicate at the same level and wavelength. The coaching skill of the manager is very important as coaching need to be done on a regular almost daily basis for his team members. At the end of the exercise, the sales team becomes more systematic and process driven. By focusing on executing the right processes and derving the right metrics from these process and feeding back into the process, the results will come just like the well tuned engine of a fine sports car will give excellent performance in a grueling race.

Documentation is the key here. Relevant steps of the process must be identified and often a questionnaire type of form is most useful for guiding the novice sales person on what to do. The next thing is to draw a timeline of the critical events that has to happen for the results to happen. A simple straight line will do with relevant mile stones marked, dated and agreed upon. Once the timeline is established, this will become the reference for future discussions and issues that were less visible becomes more clear and countermeasures may be formulated and incorporated into the timeline.