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The Sales Management Process

Success in B2B sales isn't rocket science. But it also isn't just a matter of pulling someone off the street, and giving them some product training. You don't create a good Sales Manager just by promoting a proficient sales rep. And you won't achieve success by yelling "sell, Sell, SELL!!" There are a few things that work, and a lot of things that don't. And it's in the details that success can be lost, or found.

It starts, of course, with understanding how the B2B sales process actually works (see the B2B Sales Process.) But at, we know how to deliver a sales team for you that actually performs.


There are four key functions that are necessary for successful Sales Force Development: Staffing, Coaching, Planning and Execution. If your Sales Manager is also responsible for channel partners (or third-party relationships in the field), then add Channel Management as a fifth function.

As an aside, understand that Sales Management and Sales Force Development are basically synonymous. That is, the elements are the same, as are the goals - long term sales success. We won't necessarily use them interchangeably, but if you understand that developing a competent sales force is what Sales Management is all about, then everything else will make sense. But if you have a Sales Manager who has no subordinates, then he's not a Sales Manager; and you don't have Sales Management. And, or course, the Sales Force Development problem becomes a lot simpler. Anyway, onward...

  • Staffing - Recruiting and selection are critical to building a successful sales team. But you have to know what to look for. Otherwise you're not only wasting your time and money, you're wasting opportunity.

    • Establish Your "Ideal Sales Responses" - It may seem obvious, but having salespeople who know how to sell your company's products or services is pretty important. Unfortunately, what most business owners focus on is the "knowing how to sell" part when they hire a salesperson, and they ignore the "your company's products or services" part. Most owners assume that a particular type of sales experience (such as technical sales, or service sales) is transferrable, especially with a little product training. But it's not the experience with a particular product, or even in a particular market, that matters. What matters is that the salesperson has specific responses to common situations that they're either trained to exhibit, or do so naturally. To find out if your candidates will exhibit those responses, you need to start by figuring out what responses you want them to have. For example, how would you like them to respond to a price objection? How would you like them to get past a gatekeeper? And how would you like them to respond if someone offers them a bribe?

      We can help you figure out what responses are appropriate, or ideal, for your unique company. We can then put those responses in a screening test that you can give to candidates before you waste time interviewing them. And so you end up with a sales team that actually does what you want them to do.

    • Design the Screening Test - Being able to find that one perfect candidate out of the hundreds who respond to your job ad is like finding a needle in a haystack. To be sure, reading hundreds of resumes is a complete waste of time, especially if you don't know what to look for.

      On the other hand, having each candidate take an online test - one that's been customized for your needs (unlike the generic, and therefore ineffective, tests you find on the Internet) - can save you hundreds of hours, and tens of thousands of dollars. More importantly, with a customized candidate screening test, can find the one candidate out of the bunch who's actually going to be successful for you.

    • Screen for Metrics, Experience and Training - When you're reviewing resumes, there are three things to look for: metrics, experience and training. Grade each resume on each parameter, and you'll end up interviewing only the best of the best.

    • Interviewing and Selection - At, we can conduct your candidate interviews, and recommend the ones we feel will best fit the bill. We know what to look for, and listen for, so you don't have to keep going back to the well.

    • On-Boarding - Getting off on the right foot, when bringing on a new salesperson, can save you months of unproductive time. At, we can show you how to design an on-boarding program that will get them up-and-running fast, and effectively.

  • Training and Coaching - For a typical Sales Manager, training and coaching should take anywhere from 25% - 50% of his (or her) time, depending on the make-up of the team. (Less effective teams require more training and coaching.) And no activity or function is more important.

    The most important thing to know about training and coaching, though, is that there is a difference between product training and sales training. Most companies, by the way, put far too much effort into the former, and far too little effort into the latter. And as a result, they leave a lot of money on the table. Focus on sales training, though, and the product training will generally take care of itself.

    The other thing to know is that coaching is even more important than training. (We won't tell you why, or how to do it, though, unless you're a paying client!) We can do it for you, or teach your Sales Manager how to do it right.

    • Set Aside a Sales Training Budget - If you don't set aside money for sales training in the beginning of the year, it isn't going to happen. How much? It depends. But less than $2500/year per salesperson is a rough minimum.

    • Find the Best Training Program - There are a lot of sales training programs out there, but most are junk. How do you know the difference? At, we can point you to the best programs. Or we can create one just for you.

      But here's the most important thing to remember: If you're sending your salespeople for training so they can "pick up a few tips," you're already headed down the wrong path. Improving sales performance in B2B doesn't come from incremental changes. In fact, so-called "tips" are just the kinds of things that are quickly forgotten. Is that what you want to spend your $2500 on?

      Call us. We'll hook you up.

    • Performance Analysis - One of the most basic functions of the Sales Manager is assessing the performance of his team members. This doesn't only mean how they're doing with respect to their quotas (although that's certainly important). It also means how they're developing in the different skill areas of the job, including:

      1. Product Knowledge
      2. Competition Knowledge
      3. Account and Territory Management
      4. Selling Techniques
      5. Sales Presentations
      6. Specification Control
      7. Bid Proposal Strategy and Follow-Up
      8. Communications
      9. Business Knowledge and Judgement
      10. Planning

      If you need to know how to assess these skills, we can help. It's what we do.

    • Pay and Advancement - We can't go into detail on every topic here, but many Sales Managers are charged with recommending pay rates, and candidates for promotion. Do you want to be more objective about it? Do you want to know how to optimize your pay plan to maximize profitability? Call us. There's a formula waiting just for you.

    • Selection and Culling - Every time you set your budget, and perhaps more frequently, you're making a decision about who to keep, and who to get rid of. Do you have an objective way to decide? One that even accounts for subjective factors?

      At, we can evaluate your team, and show you who to keep and who to repurpose.

    • Motivation - Getting salespeople to pick up their game, or even getting them to stay, starts with listening. At, we can show you how to turn a threat into a win-win.

    • Team Building - Successful teams balance two, conflicting themes: Teamwork and friendly competition. And you don't find this balance by having someone fall backwards off a table into the arms of their peers.

      At, we can show you how to build an effective team from the inside out.

    • Product Training - We may not know your product, but we know how to sell it. At, we can tweak your product training program so it actually helps your people sell more effectively.

    • Train the Trainer - There's a difference between getting trained in the material, and learning how to be a coach. At, we can teach your Sales Managers how to teach their reps so the material sticks, and gets reinforced.

    • Coaching and Ride-Alongs - Coaching is all about getting out in the field. Seeing what your reps see, hearing what they hear - and what they think. How else can you know what you're talking about? And how else can you have the credibility and rapport you need so the person you're coaching will actually listen?


  • Planning and Execution - Sales is all about "ringing the cash register." And at, we'll show you how to ring yours - with Sales Planning and Execution solutions that work.

    • Sales Planning - Tactical planning is the glue that holds intent together with results. And while no battle plan ever survived the first encounter with the enemy, having a plan, monitoring both how well you're executing and how well results are coming in, and then making intelligent decisions about whether to adjust the plan or the execution, is the daily dance of the Sales Manager.

      At, we can help you put together a meaningful sales plan that won't sit on a shelf somewhere, but that can serve as the guide to success.

      • Contact Management - Technology is a wonderful thing. But remember that most Contact Management Systems were built by engineers, not salespeople. As a result, they generally provide many more features than anyone could reasonably use, and so you can end up with a bad data, confused users, and a big hole in your budget. They're also approved by management that has reporting as a priority, which drives wasteful (i.e. non-selling) behaviors.

        At, we'll show you when to "just say no" to requests for tags and reports that gum up your system, suck resources from the field, and don't really tell management what they need to know. We'll clean up your database if it's already polluted. And if you don't have a system, we'll get you set up with one that actually works.

      • Territory Planning - Most salespeople know how to write a territory plan. But most territory plans are "wish lists" filled with things management wants to see. The important things rarely get done, because the day-to-day gets in the way.

        At, we'll show you how to write territory plans that meet the needs of the salesperson and management, and put in place a process that gets the work items checked off before the end of the quarter.

      • Lead Generation - One of the most valuable things you can do for your salespeople is to give them qualified sales leads to work on. Without them, the sales rep will either be forced into inefficient cold calling, or chasing leads that never pan out.

        With more than 20 years of lead generation experience, is the leader in finding qualified leads, and setting up appointments where your salespeople can go in, and close the sale.

      • Results Reporting - There's a delicate balance that has to be struck between management's need for information and the salesperson's need to be in the field selling. Too much of the former, and sales go down. Too much of the latter, and strategic mistakes ensue. At, we can help you strike the right balance, and optimize both sales and decision-making.


    • Funnel Management - The single most important report in the Sales Management Process is the Funnel Report, because Funnel Management is the second most important job (behind hiring and coaching) of the Sales Manager. A proper Funnel Report shows the list of prospects, ranked by "closeness to closing," along with their Expected Value, and Expected Close Date. As a result, it is the guide for prioritizing all of the sales work, as well as the basis for the sales forecast.

      Don't know what we're talking about? Call us. We'll explain it, and make sure your funnel does what it's supposed to do: feed your need for revenue!

      • Pro-Active Reviews - In business, nobody likes surprises (unless it's a bluebird.) And so getting ahead of the issues is a basic responsibility of the Sales Manager. The only way to do that is to be pro-active, with territory reviews that root out problems while they can still be fixed.

        At, we can show you how to incorporate a structured review process that isn't a burden, but that people will perceive to actually add value.

      • Key Account Plans - In B2B sales, most salespeople have Key Accounts - strategic customers or prospects whose revenues can have a big impact (positive or negative) on success. In the absence of the development and implementation of a plan for success, though, everything's left to luck. And that's no way to get ahead in life.

        Obviously, it doesn't have to be elaborate; maybe it's just a series of events. But you have to know where you're going with the account, and how you're going to get there. And you need to insure that you'll recognize when you've fallen off the path - before it's too late.

        At, we can help you develop Key Account Plans that maximize your close rate, and your upsells.

      • Working With Customers - Most Sales Managers know that they need to work with customers. But too much time spent on this can be as much of a problem as too little.

        At, we can show you how to strike the right balance.

      • Forecasting - Since, as we said before, nobody likes surprises, most Sales Managers are responsible for letting everyone know how much revenue they're going to deliver next week, next month, next quarter, and maybe next year. But the traditional methods for forecasting, like straight-line trending, aren't applicable for most B2B companies. A good forecast is built off the Funnel Report.

        The problem, though, is that most Funnel Reports calculate the revenue forecast by adding up the value of each potential sale. And that usually overstates the forecast. At, we can show you how to build a forecast on expected value, and put an end to the sandbagging.


    • Exception Management - When everything is going along according to plan, the Sales Manager should put their on their desk, and bask in the glory. But if not, that's when the tough need to get going.

      Of course, if you have to be told when there's a deviation, then you should probably start polishibng your resume. But the more important point is that, as a Sales Manager, you're the first line of defense for problems, and the escalation path for anything that goes wrong. Staying vigilant, and knowing how to respond, are what exception management are all about.

      • Block the Sales Prevention Department - Even the best of companies (in fact, often the best of companies,) have people and processes (often for good reason) that get in the way of closing sales. One of the responsibilities of the Sales Manager, therefore, is to move those barriers-to-success out of the way.

        At, we can examine your processes, figure out which ones are truly getting in the way of sales (as well as the ones that really aren't.) And we can build a work-around that won't slow you down.

      • Firefighting - Most sales managers are consumed with firefighting. In fact, a recent study claimed that over 40% of their respondents' time was spent putting out fires. Some of that is because the Sales Manager was in "react mode," because of inadequately anticipating problems. And some of it was systemic - fundamental errors in the way the company goes to market.

        At, we see firefighting as a symptom of some very real, but usually fixable, problems - problems we can solve.

      • Gap Analysis - A key trick-of-the-trade for Sales Managers who want to excel is to systematize exception reporting. By managing the date triggers on the Next Steps in your Funnel Report, you can be alerted to anything that hasn't happened but should have.

        At, we can set up your system to keep you from playing Whack-a-Mole, or build you an entire OODA reporting system.

      • Sales Issue Escalation - Knowing what to escalate, when, and how, are political hot-potatoes in most companies. Over-escalate, and you look incompetent. Under-escalate, and you run the risk of having something blow up in your face.

        At, we can install a process that strikes the right balance, and puts the responsibility for protecting the messenger where it belongs - on the Sales VP.


    • Strategic Planning - The involvement of Sales Management in the Strategic Planning process can mean the difference between a strategy that works, and one that doesn't. In fact, leaving them out almost guarantees failure.

      At, we invented a Strategic Market Planning process that has resulted in tens of billions of dollars in new revenues, the creation of entire markets, and more. Use our process, and find out what growth really feels like.

    • Channel Management - Some Sales Managers are responsible for managing channel partners. At, we can help set up channel programs, recruit channel partners, and get them to perform for you.

      But even companies without formal channel relationships often have third-party partners, such as local experts who recommend your product, or engineers who spec it in. These relationships are often critical to success. And having a part of your Sales Management Process directly address how these are handled can add tremendously to your market share - with which we can help.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But at, we've got a whole toolbox to help you achieve the success you need - in the field, where it counts. is a service of JV/M, Inc.
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