Leading printing executives into the future
Managing Your Team of Business Developers
By Jerry Scher
Published: November 27, 2012
Throughout this series of articles I've been focusing on rebuilding a team of talented sales
professionals who can perform as business development specialists. The primary message has
been that you must carefully re-define the roles and responsibilities prior to searching for the best
talent. I have also challenged you to re-engineer your recruiting and hiring processes so that you
can hire and promote more effectively and reduce the considerable costs of hiring mistakes; and
that includes dramatically improving your management team's interview skills.
In the last article the focus was on strengthening your human capital through staff development
and we made the case for designing both training and coaching programs. With the past six
articles as background, let's talk about managing this more sophisticated group of business
I am a strong believer in the concept that you should "Manage your System and Coach Your
People." It is essential that a well thought out sales management system or program be designed
that clearly defines your expectations and allows your sales team to actually manage themselves.
Once this system is in place, the sales manager's primary role should be to manage/maintain the
system and provide the necessary coaching so that your sales people can grow professionally and
adapt to this dynamic market environment. If we select the right people with the appropriate
skills and experience (eligibility) and behavioral traits (suitability), then this approach will result
in significant growth.
Let's take a look at the components of an effective sales management program.
Strategy and Planning
Sales Process Management
Coaching and Leadership
Sales Compensation Design and Implementation
Recruiting, Hiring and Training
Strategy and Planning
Prior to designing the management structure you must facilitate a strategic planning process that
not only defines what success looks like but also provides a clear picture of your current status.
You should involve the key players in this process so that the team can become aligned around
company expectations while preparing written goals and objectives.
Sales Process Management
You should clearly define the sales philosophy/approach that will be utilized and communicate it
clearly to the team. It is most effective if you can provide a step by step process for your
company's selling strategies so that sales people can develop the necessary skills for
implementation. Integrating transactional and consultative sales strategies into your overall
business development plan requires thoughtful planning and communication.
As more people in your organization become involved in the overall sales process, the sales
manager is responsible for deploying appropriate company resources to win new clients and
protect your hard earned business. This of course requires a strategic analysis of where your
business comes from as well as what is required to defend the business that is essential to your
continued success. Setting and communicating priorities is a crucial component of this process.
Coaching and Leadership
"If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; if you teach him to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime." One
great indicator of strong leadership is the ability to make the people around you better. This is
accomplished by providing an example so that the process of modeling can occur. This is further
accomplished by designing a carefully executed coaching program. This of course requires an
accurate assessment of individual and team strengths and challenges and developing a plan that
will, over time, assist your sales people in improving their overall competence. Teaching your
sales people how to develop their own personal development strategic plan and assisting them in
carrying it out is what professional sales management is all about.
"If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; if you teach him to fish he'll eat for a lifetime."
In today's business environment, where the requirements and expectations of your sales program
are changing right before your eyes, the structure and design of your sales compensation
program will clearly impact selling behavior. Continually reviewing your existing compensation
program to ensure that its design supports your business development strategies is the
responsibility of senior management as well as the sales manager. The structure of your plan will
clearly impact your sales organization's behavior.
Recruit, Hire and Train
The sales manager is responsible for executing a continuous recruiting program. The days of
looking for "experienced" sales people with a "book of business" are over. As the complexity of
the product mix intensifies and the role of the sales person changes, recruiting has also become
more complex. Clearly defined job descriptions are essential and a recruiting process that reaches
outside the confines of the industry is essential. The use of effective behavioral assessments such
as the Harrison Assessment that will predict a candidate's suitability for the position is a must.
The overall investment in hiring a new employee and the risks related to selecting the wrong
person are extremely expensive.
"The sales manager's primary role should be to manage/maintain the system and provide the
One of the best ways to attract talented sales professionals is to be able to demonstrate your
company's capability to provide training. The talent pool expands significantly when you offer
well thought out and designed training programs. The candidates that have the right tools (i.e.,
technology competence, "C" level selling skills, prospecting capabilities) are searching for
organizations that will assist them in growing professionally.
Time and Technology Management
In order to optimize the performance of your sales team, they must be held accountable for their
time. How they spend their time and what percentage is spent on direct sales activities is critical.
All too often sales people are focused on non-selling or marketing activities. They are poorly
organized and do not maintain the necessary account information to effectively market to their
clients. If a primary role of your sales people is to prospect for new clients/business then you
must leverage client information through the use of technology. An effective software program
that can support sales workflow, contact management, sales reporting and forecasting,
marketing, client correspondence and expense reporting can have a dramatic impact on sales
growth and profitability. So many of the sales management tools (i.e., call reports, expense
reports, client correspondence, proposal writing) that have been in use for years can now be
handled via industry specific technology and the greatest bonus is that management has complete
access to the data so they can hold their sales team accountable.
"Significant growth is possible if we select the right people with the appropriate skills,
experience and behavioral traits."
As a final note, as you design your sales management system consider the capability of the sales
manager. Prepare the job description, determine the eligibility requirements for the position and
assess the suitability of the manager. The most well designed system, with the best talent, will
not produce great results without the right coach/manager in place.
If you carefully design a well thought-out systematic sales management program for your
organization, your chances of achieving your revenue and profit expectations will be greatly
enhanced. If you would like more information about designing your system and learning more
about assessing and hiring sales talent, contact Jerry Scher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404931-9291.
For information about the Harrison Assessment http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.html
Stay tuned to this continual series – as we continue to focus how to build a dynamic sales team.
Jerry Scher has been engaged in the graphic communication industry for over 35 years, Jerry's
primary goal - make those around him more successful.