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February 04, 2011

Management: Numbers don't lie

Strip away emotion, use data to discuss performance

recently started working with a client to increase the effectiveness of its sales force. The main problem was that most team members were coasting and in maintenance mode. They weren’t working hard enough to add clients and grow sales.

One salesperson in particular stood out: a 26-year old whom I’ll call Kelly. Kelly is what’s known in the sales world as a farmer. That is, she maintains relationships with existing clients and takes orders. In her position, the goal is to strengthen and deepen those existing client relationships, while bringing on new clients. But sales under Kelly hadn’t budged from where they were before she joined the company (2.5 years earlier). Despite this fact, Kelly frequently complained about not making enough money.

As part of my work with this company, I sit in on weekly one-on-one meetings (as needed) between the sales manager and each sales rep. My role is to help move the sales ball forward, which is to say I am there to assist in helping develop and focus both the sales manager and the sales reps on the things that drive performance.

Going into this meeting I knew Kelly’s performance was poor. I also knew she had a poor work ethic and a poor attitude (bad combo).

So imagine my surprise when Kelly turned to me and said, "Phil, I don’t know if anyone’s told you, but I need to make more money.â€

While I didn’t expect her to bring up this topic at our first one-on-one, I was thrilled she did. This gave me the opportunity to model the behavior that I advocate for all of my clients and this sales manager in particular.

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