Managers Think They Manage Results

It took me a lot of years as a sales manager to realize and accept the fact that I really couldn't manage results. As much as I liked the idea of managing results, I had to let it go. It was a turning point. But, though I could not manage results, I could manage activities, and if I could be effective at managing the right kind of activities, the results would come along for the ride. When I finally got that, my whole focus as a manager changed to one of directing activities and my managerial life improved dramatically.

Some people might confuse this with micro-managing. This is generally a negative term that indicates someone who has their nose in every little move and is mainly a nuisance. It creates ill will and fear. Though I am speaking of managing activities, I don't need to be spying and eavesdropping as micro-managers do, in order to manage effectively.

If I am managing a sales staff, I want to make a plan of what we need to do to achieve sales. What are the individual tasks toward that end? So, as I think about that, I know that we need to talk to people and we prefer to talk to people who might be buyers for our products. We need to design a method of recording what was discussed, knowing that most will not buy today, so we will want to continue to follow up with them and hopefully secure a sale when they are ready. We need to encourage people to experience our product and to become familiar with our services. We need to be able to secure financing and we need to be able to negotiate the nuances of each deal. We also need to be of service to them after the sale and we need to encourage them to refer their friends and associates from their satisfied experience. The cycle of the sale from start to finish can be immediate and it can be many months or even longer, so I have to have a plan to manage all of the contacts in such a way as we maximize every opportunity in a timely manner. And one more very important thing: we need to have a good time doing all of this. It needs to feel good, or it will be a huge volume of work.

Well, there's a task! Or, I should say multi-tasking. Of course, I could lean against the wall as one of my sales manager's used to do and when I would walk by, he would say, "Sell 'em!" That was one of the shortest motivational speeches I ever heard. I experienced a number of managers who had no real understanding of the management task as outlined above. They saw it differently: Stand on the point, rush to the customer, land 'em on a car, demo 'em, get them to commit to anything, sit them down in your office and write it up. We'll take it from there. Shades of the '60's in today's world. And, when there is a plethora of customers to talk to every day, this plan has the unfortunate benefit of working--sad, though it may be. A dying breed I pray.

Back to really managing. My job as a good sales manager then, is to develop a plan of how to achieve the tasks I listed above and if that is executed well and consistently, I would feel assured of achieving the results I am after in the end. If I have no real plan and try to manage this inconsistently, I would expect to be having dramatically different results. So, if I am going to really manage results, I must effectively and consistently manage quality activities designed to achieve our overall objective of making sales. This is also my full value as a sales manager and it will also create better salespeople in the process.

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