So You Want to Be a Sales Manager?

So You Want to Be a Sales Manager?

By David Siekman @ Agency Performance Partners

 

I’m sure there are more challenging jobs on the planet than managing sales representatives, but none come immediately to mind!  All kidding aside, managing sales reps can be extremely challenging and frustrating.  The character attributes needed to be successful are also the attributes that make them so challenging to manage.  This article will walk through some of the challenges and ways to address them.

Confidence & Accountability

It takes a good amount of confidence to be able to sell anything; this is particularly true in insurance where we have an intangible product that people only buy because they have to.  At the end of the day, most of selling insurance is about selling ourselves.  To be able to do this, most sales reps have a healthy (and sometimes unhealthy) amount of confidence.

Often due to this level of confidence, it is hard for sales reps to hold themselves accountable for their failings.  I’ve heard every excuse under the sun, but 9 times out of 10 it comes down to the sales person not being willing to be honest with themselves.

There are a couple of ways to resolve this situation.  The first is by standing your ground on quotas or any other area where the sales rep is trying to make up excuses.  This is not just to be tough on them, but it eliminates any grey area.  Once you make an exception, the sales reps will think they can argue for exceptions in the future.  The other is by making sure that quotas and other expectations are well thought out and clearly expressed to everyone.  If you have 10 sales reps and only 1 of them hits quota, then there is probably something else going on that needs to be resolved.  If you have 1 rep not hitting quota, they need to look themselves in the mirror.

 

Expectations

Within that same vein, all expectations need to be clearly set with sales reps.  By their very nature, they are used to being able to talk their way out of many different situations.  To prevent them from putting up an argument, be sure that expectations around quotas, entry, compensation, etc. are all clearly identified.

This is true when making a new hire, but also throughout their employment.  You should be having weekly sales meetings with your entire team to review items that fall below expectations.  You should also be having 1:1 meetings at least quarterly when you can discuss these items more specific to each individual.

You also cannot be afraid to point out specific situations as they arise.  Staying on top of failing points is the best way to ensure that exceptions do not become rules.  Keep in mind that sales people hate to be told they are doing something wrong so you need to do this diplomatically, but you do need to do it!

 

Focus

Have you heard the expression, “It’s like herding cats”?  Other than cats and tee ball players, sales representatives have to be amongst the most unfocused group of people I’ve ever met!  For those of you that are doing weekly meetings, you know how hard it is to get them started on time.  This also plays out when it comes to doing entry, following procedures, and following up with prospects in a timely manner.

The best way to help create focus is by determining what reports can be run out of all of your systems to be able to show the sales people how well they are hitting their items.  Activity reports from your agency management system or a time to contact report out of your CRM can be helpful.  Also, create an agenda for weekly team meetings to instill some consistency into the meeting and stick to some simple rules on running a successful meeting to make it as productive as possible.


About David Siekman

Dave's career in the insurance field began in 1999 as a customer service representative for Plymouth Rock Assurance in Boston. Siekman has held his Massachusetts Property & Casualty Producers license since 2005. In 2013, he was a finalist for the NetVu Automation Excellence award. He's now a Performance Specialist at Agency Performance Partners.

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