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In my humble opinion, the term sales manager is extremely misleading yet most companies continue to use this description for one of their most important positions. Let’s think for a moment how sales are actually made. Do we as sales people create the sale through our dynamic personalities and outgoing demeanor? Hardly; we make the sale through our continued activity with the client. I will go out on a limb and boldly say we never manager sales, rather we manage activity. Should you disagree with this please read on.

Nothing happens until a sale is made! The truth in this age old comment sometimes amazes those new to the field of sales. In a prior life I would always begin a sales meeting with this statement and always begin my interviews with potential employees with the same comment.

So, if we have to manage activity and nothing happens until a sale is made, how do we accomplish both tasks in order to be successful at the science of sales? The answer is rather simple. As the “Sales Manager” one must put into place some very simple but effective methods of managing activity. Some very successful and seasoned professionals will disagree with my suggestions and that is OK. If you are satisfied with the performance of your sales team and are making as much money as you want to make then stop reading now. Otherwise read on for some proven tactics.

The plan is very simple as one activity leads to another and eventually to a sale. Regardless of the amount of money being spent on the sale, the steps to making the sale are always the same and must be orchestrated if you are to be successful. We will discuss sales training another day so let’s concentrate on the activity required and how to track it properly.

As elementary as it may seem, you must require each salesperson to make a predetermined number of sales calls per day or week but this number must be specific and rigid.

Second you should set a goal each week for number of demonstrations or proposals or both. Naturally the product will determine if you need demonstrations or presentations prior to the actual proposal. A good rule of thumb is to expect 5 personal contacts before a presentation can be expected and possibly more for the proposal. This varies from industry to industry.

Third, you should determine a closing ratio for each member of the sales team. Naturally you can use one of your successful salespeople as a benchmark but each salesperson has to have their own closing ratio. This an excellent method for forecasting sales and for modifying commission plans.

Fourth, each sales person has to keep a list of their top prospects and the sales dollars forecasted for the account.

Fifth, where is the account in the process? i.e. are they ready to make a decision or are they still kicking tires?

And sixth, every salesperson should keep a record, either electronically or written regarding personal information of every person involved in the process from maintenance person to executive Vice President.

There are always more steps that may be added or perhaps you might reduce some step but the key is to keep sales people from wasting time on non-productive accounts or individuals.

We all spend money on countless items each day and in my case I like to purchase costly items from someone I know. The individual who has sold me over 100K in automobiles during the last two years realizes the value of everything listed above especially step six. He knows a lot about my and my wife because he took time to ask the questions and was rewarded with us purchasing another vehicle from him recently.

Remember none of this is brain surgery and just takes a little effort to accomplish.

Have a great day!

Terry