Leadership Skills Training

Article Written by : Parvez Pestonji (Sales and Management  Coach) Parvez Pestonji

 

Most sales managers understand that there are two aspects to their job – the task or process, which must be understood, and, the people or team that perform the task. If this were all there was to management, it would be like a captain sitting on a ship knowing his destination (the task), with a crew (the sales team)

Although our captain understands how the ship works, has a destination and a crew to take him there, he needs a course or strategy to navigate the journey.  It’s like an army officer who has the best team of soldiers in the army and a sound understanding of the process of fighting a battle.  But, if he does not have a strategy and direction to fight the battle he could lead his men in the opposite direction; he may even lead them to fight their own side.  And that is exactly the same in sales management; the manager and his team must have a strategy or course to navigate in the direction of his targets.  He may understand the sales process, know how to direct and motivate the sales team, and he may also know what he wants or should achieve.  But, if he does not have a strategy or course to get your there, he will more than likely achieve nothing.

This suggests another component of sales management, the activity of developing a strategy to achieve the team’s targets. It follows that if he needs a strategy to achieve his targets, senior managers will have their own.  Equally, as his strategy will result in discussion with his sales team about their direction, he should expect the same from his boss.

There is still a gap in our understanding of the sales process, for although we know what we should achieve and how to get there, how do we know that we are on course to achieve it?  Let me use the analogy of our sea captain.  A sea captain does not set a course, instruct the crew and leave the rest to his gods. He continually checks that he is on course. If tides, winds and errors move him off course, he compensates by setting a new direction. Equally, although the captain may start his voyage with a clear destination and course, circumstances outside his control may force a change in direction.

The sales manager also needs a system to check whether he or she is on course.  His  strategy must also be flexible to pressures outside his influence, which may force a complete change in direction.  He can achieve this flexibility and understanding of his progress towards his targets by maintaining sound feedback systems.

Feedback not only gives the manager information on his progress towards his aims and targets, it also tells him how well he and his sales team are developing their expertise or what his customers think of the service and products the company offers.  Feedback is a very important aspect of management; it is a subject in its own right and needs be addressed separately.

 

OK. Now we understand that there are four components of sales management. There is however one further component; a component that many people ignore. A component that helps him and the members of his team grow and develop in their jobs and careers, it involves learning and personal development.

 

We live in a changing world of which there is only one certainty; it will continue to be uncertain.  This suggests we cannot stand still, we either move on and adapt to change or resist it and fall back – there is no status quo. To become adaptable to change we must learn how to learn.  One of the key skills of the future is the skill of self-directed learning – learning to learn without relying on other people, organizations or institutions

If the manager and his sales team do not become self-directed learners in their profession they will fade away into oblivion of ‘has beens’, ‘once weres’, or ‘whatever happened to him’. To stay ahead and succeed he and his team must continue to learn.

As a sales manager he has two roles.  Firstly, helping, directing, coaching and motivating his sales people to become self-directed learners in the art of selling.  Secondly, directing, coaching and motivating himself to become a self directed learner in the profession of sales management.

In summation, research from the 1970s onwards into buying behaviors and decision making indicates that today’s customer prefers to be in control of his or her buying decision and that they like to deal with organizations in an environment of trust.

With the electronic and print media performing its role of making customers aware of the developing technologies and the latest products and services available, the customer discerns fairly quickly and senses that he is being manipulated and reacts against it. The latest research also suggests that people not only buy products or services to resolve problems or realize opportunities but also look to satisfy their hidden agendas.

With the change in customer awareness and his need to be in control it emerges that there is no panacea to selling as salespeople sell according to their personality, market, organization and the customer. Therefore managing the sales process often has more impact on performance than the ability to persuade. The philosophy of selling within the ethics of Total Quality is the key to maintaining a long term competitive advantage.

As mentioned earlier there is no panacea to selling. Selling from the 1990’s and beyond is in taking actions that will cause people to buy from you rather than selling to them. Today’s effective salesperson has to be a facilitator who understands the customer’s buying behavior and buying processes and causes him to take a decision in his favor, while discerning and keeping in mind the customer’s hidden agendas. Today Sales Management is about managing the whole sales process as well as developing their people to sell.

 

Article Written by : Parvez Pestonji (Sales and Management  Coach) Parvez Pestonji

 

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