We were engaged by the owner of a small, but growing company to analyze his sales team and its effectiveness. During the discussion about the different players on the team and what he was trying to accomplish, I learned that the real reason the owner was interested in outside help was because he was concerned about the effectiveness of the sales manager. The sales manager had been in the industry for years and was quite knowledgeable so was very valuable to the organization, but the owner was concerned that the manager wasn’t doing all that was necessary to get the most out of the team.
As I mentioned previously the company was growing, but the owner believed that they could execute at a higher level. This is a fairly common situation we see. The best companies are always striving to improve, grow and execute more efficiently.
We embarked on a data-driven analysis of the team to determine what areas of improvement might exist (Download a sample here). The owner described the symptoms of what he noticed, which included deals lingering in the sales pipeline too long without closing, a general lack of urgency, and an absence of a predictable process. By diving in with the full analysis on the front end, we could pinpoint the causes of the symptoms that the owner had witnessed. As you might guess the sales manager was indeed not as effective as is necessary to really move the team forward.
So, after sharing the information with the owner, supplemented with recommended action steps to improve sales performance, the owner asked us to meet individually with the sales manager first, before agreeing to implement any action plans. We sent the sales manager a report with the findings regarding his impact, including the areas for improvement that had been identified. He refused to meet, completely disregarding any of the findings about him.
Sadly, the owner acquiesced and agreed to continue as before, with no improvement plan in place. Despite my argument that he engaged us for a specific reason and that it would be unlikely that he would experience any improvement in sales effectiveness that he desired, he did nothing. That was two years ago. The company has continued to grow, but the owner has recently reached out to discuss their situation again.
My thoughts turn to how much revenue and profit was lost over the last two years because the owner was concerned about the reaction by a manager who could not embrace his own weaknesses to grow and improve. Owners, please do not be held hostage by individuals on your team. We see it not only with sales managers as in this case, but frequently “top” salespeople are not required to conform to procedures or behaviors that would increase sales. A company is impacted for a very long time from lost revenue and profits. Do not sacrifice your company’s growth for the ego of one individual.