A WINNING SALES MODEL

 

A friend and business leader I admire has a great model for running a sales organization – he calls it the winning sales model . I found it a great ‘check list’ of questions to review when looking at an organizational sales model. I have added parts of it to the 90 day model that I have been evolving over the last six years, that I will review at the Sales 2.0 conference in March. Call it food for thought.

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TO BE OR NOT TO BE A SALES MANAGER: THAT IS THE QUESTION

This is an age old question that all sales reps are bound to ask at some point in their career: Do I become a sales manager or remain a career professional sales person? (And it is a question asked by a reader …)

Prior to joining the company where my personal services corporation currently sells its services, I moved from sales to management. In that case, it was not a big decision as it was a hybrid role (I was a sales manager but retained my own territory. A unique opportunity necessitated by the size of the company). It was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

But, my last move was a big one. I thought about it for 2 years before I finally moved out of the sales role (that I LOVED) to sales management. Agonized over the move. When is the right time? Will I be happy? Can I do the job effectively? I have been out of management for 4 years, should I move back? Do I want to lose control of my time? Do I want the office life? In the back of my mind was the cliché about good sales reps making bad sales managers. So how did I decide?

For me, I did the Ben Franklin, listing the pros and cons on two sides of a piece of paper. What kept me as a sales rep where the weight that those pro’s and con’s held. As time shifted, so did the weights.

The Ben Franklin on moving into Sales Management:

Pros Cons
– Increased stock – yielding long term rewards to increase momentum toward retirement. – Decrease in pay in the short term (Everyone knows, the best managers work to ensure their reps make more than them)
– Ability to grow personally. I have done sales for 18 years and was getting bored. Other things had provided a challenges (children in the early years, golfing, etc.) but boredom was setting in. – Loss of flexibility of schedule (More travel, longer hours, calendar becomes public domain)
– Ability to lead a broad team and have a bigger impact. Expanding from the current leadership role (Sales Rep leader) to a broader leadership role. – Loss of direct control (Micromanagement is the death of the sales manager)
– Initially, I could see myself as a rep to retirement. Over time, that shifted. I wanted to run a sales organization. So, moving into this role was a required step – thereby moving to a pro. – Dramatic decline in handicap (I was at an 11, playing 70+ rounds a year and could see single digits after a stellar 80 in which I missed a 3 footer for 79)
– Expansion of network. The opportunity to work with a whole new network of people in different way. – Less time with my family
– It was a job I found exciting and it was time.  

 

It was a very tough decision. There are times when I still pine for the days as a sales rep (especially when I am in day 3 of a 4 day meeting in July .. looking out the window). In the end, the last point became the tipping point. I took 2 years to decide because the sales management jobs up to that point did not excite me. But when my current job came up, I knew that was the one. I went for it because I knew it was going to be really exciting, that it would stretch me and that I would learn a ton.

In the end, this is a very personal decision. During the interview process for my current role, I read more than 10 books on management to refresh my skills.

I would suggest to those thinking about making the decision, read Becoming a Manager. It is the only book that I have ever read that takes people through the transition. It can also serve as a great reality check.

But in the end, look inside. You can be whatever you want to be.

A DVD CLIP FOR A PRESENTATION

A few weeks ago I needed a clip from a movie for a presentation. I wanted the classic scene from Tommy Boy where Tommy doesn’t take no for an answer, or he runs at each no.
 
What a challenge!
 
First I tried to capture it from a DVD to my computer. No luck, the encryption gives a picture that pops in and out (2 hours wasted).
 
Next, I tried to capture it to a VHS, then to the computer. Nope, same thing. The hardware stops copying.
 
Last, I turned to a techie friend who made it simple, and so I pass this on to everyone:
 
1. Downloaded DVD decrypter. It copies the DVD to your hardrive, unencrypted. I am going to take all of my DVDs and fire them off to 250GB drives so that I can watch them with media center. As an aside, make sure you use the same directory structure in on your hardrive to allow Media Center to recognize it. www.dvddecrypter.com
2. Used a tool called Dvd-to-MPEG to convert the raw files to a single file.
3. Used Pinnacle 9 to edit the MPEG down to a Windows Media File that I embedded into my PowerPoint.
 
A painful lesson, but now that it is learned I have so many DVD clips to leverage … Glengarry, Glen Ross, The Office … So much choice!
 
Finally, as an aside, I find it very annoying that I cannot leverage my DVD purchase without a ton of hassle. I understand why (As pirating is so rampant), but it is still frustrating.

CORPORATE GOLF TOURNAMENTS

I have been expanding on the benefits of golf in sales and have a point to add on the golf tournament.
Executives and clients get many offers to golf tournaments. MANY. They have to be choosy on which ones they go to.
When I was a rep, I can remember my peers struggling to fill their slots, while I hovered around – ready to take the extra slots up because I had too many people wanting to come. Invariably, the excuses would fly:
1. My customer has an event that day (You should have invited them sooner)
2. No one at my customer golfs (can’t see that being true)
3. They are not allowed to golf (can’t see that being true)
As a sales manager, I use the corporate golf tourney as a litmus test. The best reps, who have built strong relationships and positioned the company as a key partner, are the ones who fill the slots to overflowing.
A good measure of the rep.

THE RAT RACE & MOVING BACK TO MANAGEMENT

I recently got back in touch with one of my greatest mentors. This is a guy who in the early 90’s was making $300K++ selling photocopiers. I learned from one of the true sales masters (He worked 30 hours a week and spent more time watching the OJ Simpson trials than working .. because he was that good). You can go to his web site (he is now a public speaker) http://www.success150.com/

I am considering a career change – the move from Sales to Sales Management (I did sales management previously, but this would be a long term change in career) and have spent a year thinking about it. My conundrum is simple: I look at that 45 year old sales person and the question pops in the head “Why didn’t he become a manager or VP? Is he ONLY a sales rep?”

Over time I have come to realize that this is a ‘rat race’ mentality. There is a different perspective; maybe these are the smart one? They make more money than the managers (Another good litmus test for sales: Does the top rep make more than the VP of sales? At good companies – they do). They don’t have sales reps and paper work bogging them down, they take care of their customers, their virtual team and themselves. They get recognized as valuable corporate assets. They control their own schedules.

Now the manager: At the beck and call of the sales rep. Very little direct control over their own fate as it must come through their reps. Constantly being put in the middle between rep objectives and corporate objectives and the good manager is the one who steps aside to let the rep have the glory during a success but is ready to step in and take a bullet for that rep when it goes bad.

As I ponder this decision (It has been a year of hard thinking), he told me this story:

The irony of the rat race explained:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.  “Not very long,” answered the Mexican.  “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”  asked the American.  The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”  “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife.  In the evenings, I go into the village to see my  friends, have a  few  drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a  full life.”  The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  

You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise!

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.      “And after that?”

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing.

“When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

 “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandchildren, and take a siesta with your wife.  In the evenings, you could go into the village to see your friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…and have a full life ….

Is it so bad that I have great relationships with my customers – a flexible schedule – am well paid and get to golf? That is the quandary.

So had lunch with a Senior VP at my client, who I have come to know very well and laid out my dilemma, my thoughts and sought his viewpoint. His statement to me: “You can always go back. Take the step, get the experience and have it on your resume. It is all about choices – and you can choose to go back in the future”. I know lots of people who have done this – gone from sales to management and back to sales (then sometime back to management).

So, I made my choice: To ensure that I have the option of the “beach” in the future (Although in my case – the “course” is more appropriate *wink*)