In order to remain relevant to your clients and to survive in these dynamic market conditions, you and your team must adapt accordingly. Consider the following observations on different sales management skills for different marketing conditions.

Management during a growth market means recruiting is rapid paced and often selection criteria is sacrificed due to increased competition for talent. New hire product and sales training is more basic to get the new resource productive more quickly. Management’s focus is on gaining market share.

Management during a slow economy means new hire standards are much more selective. Emphasis is on multi-lines selling and expertise to secure more revenue per client, improve client retention.

Sales during a growth market are focused on gaining market share, speed to market, and time management issues. Product knowledge is focused on bestselling products, with an emphasis on product innovation.

Sales during a slow economy require establishing client needs and account rounding activities. There is a slowdown in client decision-making, resulting in a longer sales cycle.

I could go on, but there is no reason to belabor the point. In this business and political climate, we need to be optimally adaptive, flexible and prepared and open to new sales management techniques. Content I used in teaching sales management courses applies:

10  sales axioms

1) Think of your clients’ best interests first, then your employees’ best interests next, followed by your own.

2) Prospecting is the difficult part; selling is easy. Develop centers of influence. Request referrals. Institutionalize prospecting to secure quality introductions.

3) Differentiate your practice. Develop expertise in a market segment. Create proprietary products. Find a way to bring value to your clients in a meaningful manner.

4) Understand your clients’ business issues, then create pertinent and relevant solutions. The product selections will become self-evident.

5) Closing should be less than 15% of the total sales process. Visualize a funnel. The time spent closing the sale should be the narrow part at the bottom. If you invert a funnel, it doesn’t work. Likewise the sales process.

6) We all recruit in our own image. Know yourself well. And know your deficiencies even better. Then hire to your strengths and to mitigate your shortcomings.

7) Your best sales people call you regularly. And when they call you, they provide specifics about results. Poor sales people rarely call you. And they avoid your calls. When you hear from them, they speak in vague generalities. Pay attention to these basic observations and early warning signals.

8) Poor performers pull down good performers. Good performers cannot improve poor performers. Don’t be reluctant to eliminate poor performers expeditiously before they impact your entire team.

9) There is no sales management problem that you cannot recruit your way out of. You should always be recruiting so that ultimately you can select, not settle.

10) The primary responsibility of sales management is to replace itself. Mentor your replacement, and develop a winning sales management team.

Kwicien is managing partner at Baltimore-based consulting and advisory services firm Daymark Advisors. Reach him at jkwicien@daymarkadvisors.com.

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