More Hands on Deck

Employ additional sales managers when the business demands it.

Are you thinking of hiring an additional sales manager? Make sure you do it for the right reasons. The company’s executive team must have a specific goal in mind – the creation of a new division, entering a niche market, or selling a new product or service. A new hire should only be made in line with the specific change you wish to effect.

A second sales manager is an additional overhead so the appointment must be totally warranted and driven by business needs.

Business needs

When we grew our sales management structure at KreditInform, we did so because of the expanding number of sales people on the team. At the time, business was booming.

We were entering more markets and more geographical areas, and we were expanding the range of products and services on offer. Eventually, the number of sales people we employed far exceeded the sales manager’s capacity, so we split the team and created smaller, specialised groupings with their own focus.

People needs

It’s also a good idea to consider bringing an additional manager on board if you want to focus on developing sales people who are less productive or less mature than your sales superstars. For instance, let’s say you have a few people in sales who have less experience than their team members. They may be new to the sales arena, or to the products and services your business offers.

A second sales manager who can micro-manage them while helping them to develop and grow, frees up your existing sales manager to continue focusing on the people who are closing big deals.

They can home in on why sales are dropping, for example. They can investigate cancellations and look more closely at who is buying what and why. They can identify buying patterns and look at ways to align the business with customer needs.

Your new hire can provide less experienced sales people with assistance when they have to meet tougher customers, or when they may not feel comfortable dealing with a senior executive like a CEO.

We all know that as you go down the chain of command, it becomes much easier to engage. However it also takes longer to close the deal and it’s usually of a lesser value. For the less experienced sales person, the support of a sales manager who can help them to move up that chain of command can be invaluable.

If you are facing this type of scenario, however, there is another option. You may want to consider bringing on board a sales trainer or sales coach, rather than hiring an additional manager and breaking up your team.

A sales coach can be very effective in helping to develop newbies, motivate people who are stagnating and provide extra energy for the super achievers. A sales coach has a clear set of roles and responsibilities which will not clash with those of your sales manager.

The competition question

Creating competition between sales people has been one of the tools of the trade since time immemorial, with the sum of the results reflecting on the ability of the sales manager. I would not recommend creating competition between sales managers themselves, as it can distract them for their primary role, which is to manage, not to sell.

That’s why sales managers are paid more to manage the team rather than being encouraged to compete. Introduce competition between sales managers and you run the risk of your managers selling for everyone on the team and going out there to close deals. Instead, they need to focus on developing their people, and on sharing expertise, information and wins with their fellow sales managers.

The selling situation

The ability of a sales manager to manage a certain number of sales people is dependent on a range of factors. How complex is the sales environment? How mature is the sales team? How systemised is the business? If the sales cycle is simplistic and fairly rigid, the sales manager is likely to have the ability to manage quite a large team.

On the other hand, if the selling situation is highly consultative, there will be a greater need for more in-depth management. The sales manager will, therefore, have to manage a smaller team because of the demands on their time and input.

Remember that promoting healthy competition among team members is key. You can only achieve this if you compare apples with apples. You cannot expect a team of new sales people to measure up to a group that is experienced and has a long list of contacts.

Also, depending on what you want to achieve, it may be more beneficial for the organisation to create two complementary, rather than competing, teams. Again, equal measurement of performance is critical.