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Seven Questions to Ask SM's

1-5-2012
by Sean Luce

Sales Managers I work with complete a weekly questionnaire. In addition, they forecast 3 month rolling projections for their sales staff. The recaps give me a chance to prepare for weekly conference calls that keep the consultant and management on the same page. The goal is to identify the problems before they occur.  Some of the typical questions include how much time the managers spend in the field with their sales reps. The recap also includes such questions as what training items the manager used in sales meeting and if they will attain their monthly sales goal.

For the 1st week of 2012, we decided to change some of the questions for sales managers. Here are the questions being asked this week. The questions are  helpful for any sales manager going into the New Year.  I'm including some commentary on the questions, and why there were asked.
 
1. What was the one thing you were most proud of having accomplished in 2011?
SL:
It is always good to review the one thing you are most proud of accomplishing. The small win approach works wonders. It helps us build towards the big win.

2. Do you have a full complement of sales reps going into 2012? If not, why not?
SL:
There is no excuse for a sales manager not having a full staff for 2012. However if the sales staff is not at full capacity, please see question #3.

3. Is your bench for sales reps on your staff? If not, who is on your bench?
SL:
I am a big proponent of having “one extra” on the sales staff. It is much easier to promote from within versus looking outside the building. The extra rep will also save an untold number of dollars when a rep resigns.

4. What business book did you read in 2011 that most influenced you?
SL:
What things did you from learn from the book that you have incorporated into daily work? Reading it is one thing, but actually taking an idea and executing it is another.

5. What is the one business goal that is the most vital to you and your reps in order to accomplish the 2012 sales goal?
SL: Hitting a sales goal is obvious. Give me something else.

6. What is the #1 new business feature that can be executed to get sales dollars from a non-traditional area?
SL:
Could it be a real focus on digital versus just dabbing in it? Could it be a focus on different categories of business that are not normally targeted?

7.  What is the #1 thing you will train your staff how to do better in 2012, that can dramatically increase our chances of exceeding our sales goal for 2012?
SL:
 Training your reps will increase the chance of hitting the sales goals since most sales staffs are not trained properly. Just having a focus on training is vital to developing a staff, and I would be partial here of course!

Below is an actual LPG recap this week though names and places have been taken out.
1. What was the one thing you were most proud of having accomplished (business) in 2011?
Made the decision to come back to *&*&( after almost 5 years in *(*&)*(.
2. Do you feel you have a full complement of sales reps going into 2012? If not, why not?
Nope. Getting close on hiring my 6th (within 2 weeks) with some good options for a 7th rep to join the team sometime in late February.
3. Is your bench on your staff? If not, who is on your bench?
Bench: 4 people. Names withheld of course.
4. What business book did you read in 2011 that most influenced you? What things did you take out of it that you made a part of what you do every day?
Re-read "Good to Great" and "The Long Tail" - must always find points of differentiation between you and competition.
5. What is the one business goal that is the most vital to you and your staffs accomplishing their sales goal in 2012? The most important goal for 2012 is to make sure that I'm always staffed with at least 7 reps. This will take some of the pressure off of &()* and &)()* and allow them to sell without feeling like they have to carry the team (which they've had to do the last couple of years).
6. What's the #1 new business feature you think we can execute that will help us pick up money where we normally wouldn't?
Digital is definitely an area with the most potential for growth. (*)*).com has started strong and should allow us to go over more (category) dollars in 2012. Our goal is to double (&)(*)*( revenue in 2012.
7. What is the #1 thing you will train your staff how to do better in 2012, that can dramatically increase our chances of exceeding our sales goal for 2012?

Better negotiating. This will be an on-going training subject. We need to get better negotiating on agency buys (not leaving $$ on the table) as well as negotiating with local direct advertisers. The &()*(* mantra, "They ask for something, we ask for something."

Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at sean@luceperformancegroup.com.




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