How Do You Know The Value Of Your Sales People?

One of the best things that ever happened to me in my career was when I was given responsibility to manage an external sales organization.

Previously, I was general manager of a business unit inside the company, and we had a matrixed sales organization. In other words, we fought for resources with the other business units.

It was really obvious to me the value a great sales manager made to your success.

There was Ken who ran Asian sales for us. Ken wasn’t technical (which I think is a huge asset in technical sales), and Ken and his team knew their accounts inside and out.

The market share we enjoyed in Ken’s region was around 80%.

So I was kind of bummed when the company reorganized and Ken gave up the Japan territory. The new sales manager was David.

David had previously run West Coast sales. So I had lunch with David before he moved to Japan.

I remember David telling me that he viewed our products as “commodity” products. I knew our market share was going to suffer.

Sure enough, our market share was cut in half and our gross margins went from 80% to 50%.

The value of a great sales team can not be overstated.

You see the value in great sales management when your sales and gross margin are cut in half just because of a change in sales management. And you really get an appreciation for sales when you manage a sales team.

Great sales management isn’t easy.

That’s why I was so lucky to be given the opportunity to manage sales. You really get to see the art and science to being a good sales manager.

It’s pretty easy to see who the successful and unsuccessful sales people will be:

The art of sales is in having really good listening skills and adding value for your customers.

The science of sales is having a rigorous sales process, being methodical and detail oriented.

Conversely, the weak sales people are just like you’d expect them to be: Big talkers with poor listening skills and no real methodology.

For more, read: How You Can Avoid Nine Startup Sales Killers

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