The sales manager as the driver of his or her team’s development
“Most sales directors and managers do not truly fulfil their responsibilities as managers,” comments Krauthammer consultant George Pouw. “They are generally excellent salespeople but do not give their teams the benefit of their skills.” Obsessed with budgets, which they struggle to keep to in these tough economic times, these professionals are too inclined to think only about the figures. “However, it’s not figures they should be concerned about, but their sales team and developing their skills,” points out the co-ordinator of Krauthammer’s “Sales Management” course in the Netherlands.
To help sales managers and directors to fulfil their potential, last year Thierry Laborde and his colleagues overhauled the course offered by Krauthammer. It now lasts 5 days. “They confront sales managers with their current practices and show them what they should be putting in place,” explains George Pouw. “This course is generally an eye-opener” and gives them the tools and methods to help their teams to develop their skills and so improve their performance.
How do you change the status quo when you’ve been doing the same thing for years? “You need to start by looking at the things you do and asking how they contribute to developing your team’s skills,” advises the consultant. Next, list those that are key to this task and those which aren’t, or less so. The idea is to delegate these secondary activities to free up time to support your team. George Pouw suggests that this time could be used to “monitor each salesperson during an appointment in order to debrief them later about their strengths and which areas need work.” During team meetings, the sales manager can also use exercises and role-play, at the same time as encouraging his or her sales team to share their good practices.
This course gives the sales manager five key reflexes to carry out his or her tasks successfully. “The manager must focus on the game and not the challenge,” explains Thierry Laborde. It is pointless to stress the importance of achieving the targets every morning. Far better to give advice about how to meet them. “The second reflex is to build a step-based sales method tailored to the company,” continues Thierry Laborde. The third reflex is to describe in detail the key skills for each step of the method. The fourth reflex is then to coach your employees using simulations and role-play. Finally, the last reflex is to practise “real coaching on the ground. Remember, the manager should allow the salesperson to conduct the meeting and debrief him or her afterwards. It’s not up to the manager to win over the client,” concludes Thierry Laborde.
In response to those people who ask how to introduce these new management approaches in their company, George Pouw responds with a smile. “It’s a question many professionals ask me during the course, and to which I reply: you are excellent salespeople! How much time have you spent convincing your boss about the merits of your ideas?” Question and challenge practices which aren’t working. “Most importantly, sales managers should not fall into the trap of sticking rigidly to practices put in place twenty years ago,” concludes the Krauthammer consultant. “They have to make changes, and we can help them do it.”
About Thierry Laborde
With a keen interest in psychology and social science, Thierry Laborde has extensive management experience. Before joining Krauthammer, previous positions included General Export Manager, Product Development Manager and Asia-Pacific Marketing Director for an international group. Specialising in leadership, sales management, negotiation and multicultural communication, Thierry Laborde trains new Krauthammer consultants and is involved in developing new courses within the R&D department.
About George Pouw
An instructor for the “Commercial Management” programme, for which he is responsible in the Netherlands, George Pouw has been a Krauthammer consultant since 1988. With over twenty years’ experience in sales and management, he is actively involved in developing and running courses relating to these fields. An expert in Asian cultures, management and project management auditing, George Pouw also trains new consultants at the Krauthammer University.
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