DESIGNING THE SALESFORCESales personnel serve as the company’s personal link to the customers.The sales representative is thecompany to many of its customers.The sales representative who brings back much needed informationabout the customer.Therefore,the company carefully needs to consider issues in salesforces design,thedevelopment of salesforce objectives,Strategy, Structure, Size, and compensation.Sales Force Objectives and Strategy
MANAGING SALESFORCEOnce the company has established objectives,Strategy,Structure,Size and compensation, it has to moveto recruiting,selecting,training,supervising,motivating,and evaluating sales representatives.Recruiting and selecting sales representativesRecruitingSuperb sales managers know the value of a solid plan to do the upfront work required to attract,interview and select the best sales performers. They have determined when and where interviewswill be conducted, as well as when the identified top candidate will come aboard. Before skilledsales managers begin interviewing prospective candidates they know what they are looking for.A well thought out job description, ideally tested and verified at least one level above inmanagement will provide a good template for selection. In the absence of a formal jobdescription, soliciting the input of the best sales representative currently on your team workspretty well too. Next, identify the critical skills needed to be successful in sales.Two sets of data will make up the composite picture of the candidate. One is "manifested" skills,the other "abilities and aptitudes". Manifested skills are those that are recognized throughinterviews, work experience and reference checks. For the most part, they are subjective sincethey are judgment calls made by you and others regarding the candidates likelihood of success inyour organization.Prior to interviewing candidates create an evaluation grid that contains all the "manifested"criteria. This will keep you focused during the interviews. Candidly, these are clear indicators ofwhat you value in your representatives. A few examples of these criteria might include: years of successful sales experience in the same or related industry performance compared to quota written and verbal communication skills appearance and general demeanor listening skills basic intelligence - ability to think quickly and clearly while delivering concise answers to your questions.It would be useful to assign a weighted value to each item signifying the relative importance youplace on each one. Use the grid to score the interviewees and develop your short list ofcandidates.
SelectingPrepare a checklist of questions to prequalify candidates during a telephone interview. This stepwill determine whom you wish to interview in person. Consistently using the same set ofquestions in both the phone interview and the in-person interview will enable you to determineyour best-qualified individuals. Additionally, using a Q & A pattern avoids haloing ofcandidates. Choices are an inevitable part of life and advisedly we recommend you select at leasttwo finalists based on your "manifested" criteria. Heres why: A written offer of employment thatis not accepted will delay the timetable undoubtedly committed to other management.At this step checkout all finalist references very thoroughly. Have developed a pre-set list ofquestions that can be posed to every reference. Offer penetrating questions like "rank David on ascale of 1 to 10 in salespersonship, personal qualities, work ethic and sales performance toquota." A question such as "If there is one thing you can think of that would improve the salesperformance of David, what would you think it would be?" will open up the reference to tenderdetails you might never have uncovered otherwise. The point is use some imagination at thisstep, as the more penetrating and thoughtful your questions, the better you are able to validateyour prior subjective candidate assessments.Now go to the second set of skills or objective criteria, which are the "aptitudes and abilities" ofcandidates. The most progressive organizations have correlated how human style and behavioraffect a sales persons ability to perform in a sales role. These can be obtained through formalassessment tools which are available today.This type of testing can be used to match the candidates personality or style with their adaptedsales style. They can also determine how the candidate will function in a work environment. Thereal value lies in the ability to match how your most successful people function and what theirstyles are with those of the candidate. Tests results that are too far astray from what you needindicate a probable candidate misfit for the position.To sum up, start the interviewing process fully knowledgeable about what skills, characteristicsand work experience you are seeking in your candidate. Then use assessment tools which willprovide you a more complete picture of the individual than simply your instinct, experience andreference checks.HiringNow you have succeeded in attracting the finest candidate you can find in your designatedtimeframe. This is not the time to rest on your laurels, so to speak. Your introduction of the newrepresentative to your team ensures the assimilation into your group is positive. Attention to thisdetail is a must! Think about it. If you spent this much time planning, interviewing, doingreference checks and succeeded to this point, this is the time to maintain control of the process.This is an opportunity to demonstrate your genuine concern for your new team member andidentify the new representative as a valuable member of your team. Your personal interest in thisstep will be appreciated and respected by the new representative and your team.Before your candidate actually steps into this position, put together a "Getting Started Plan". In ityou should identify all activities, objectives, responsible parties and dates targeted for
completion of each. The list needs to be chronologically prioritized with most important activityto least important. As these activities are completed, use this as an opportunity to discuss theprogress the new sales person is making. Your positive feedback will energize the newrepresentative and serve to encourage completion of activities even faster.A couple of milestones are achieved when you take an active and participatory role in the hiringprocess. You establish your leadership style. Secondly, you create a roadmap for yourrepresentative that can be measured and from which both of you are accountable. You canconfidently and knowingly put a "success" plan in place that is realistic, discerned, and fromwhich you can lead from a responsible and authoritative position. Rather than leaving the newemployee wandering about aimlessly, you put him or her on a plan so together you can measureprogress toward every identified objective.Superior sales management begins at the time of the initial face-to-face interview. What happensthereafter and throughout your supervision of the representative is directly reflective of theleadership you have previously displayed. Furthermore supervising the sales activities, as well assetting meaningful and cooperative goals for your representative will be smoother thereafter.Delegation and abdication of any of the steps mentioned might require corrections that are timeconsuming. Not withstanding your new hire attaining quota immediately, it is difficult toimagine any single activity of sales management more gratifying than succeeding in bringingaboard another top performer.Training sales representativesMany companies send their new reps into the field almost immediately supplied with samples,orderbooks, and description of the territory.Much of their selling is ineffective.Sales training programs haveseveral goals: Sales representatives need to know and identify with the company. Sales representatives need to know the company’s product. Sales representatives need to know customers and competitor’s characteristics. Sales representatives need to know how to make effective sales presentations. Sales representatives need to understand field procedures and responsibilities.To get a return on your investment, training programs must be targeted to achieve particularobjectives.Improve Company KnowledgeSales training should allocate sufficient time, and include an appropriate amount of information,to improve new and existing sales representatives&#039; knowledge of the company. Thisshould include its history, values and mission, and its policies and procedures with respect todealings with external stakeholders and internal coworkers and managers.
Clarify Responsibilities and ExpectationsAn effective sales training program leaves sales representatives with a full understanding of theirday-to-day activities and responsibilities, as well as a clear vision of the process of advancementwithin the company. Highlight sales quotas or targets that are relevant and ensure that there areno questions before moving on to another topic of discussion.Improve Product KnowledgeOne of the primary objectives of a sales training program is to ensure a thorough understandingof the products and services that the salespeople will be selling. Sales guides with productspecifications, features and basic pricing should be distributed before the training sessions so thatsales representatives can review them beforehand--and raise any questions they have during thesales training session. It is a good idea to have manufacturing/supplier representatives andtechnical support/installation personnel on hand to answer any detailed questions salesrepresentatives might have about the product. Salespeople should leave a training session withfull confidence that they could effectively answer any question raised by the customer about theirproducts and services.Enhance Sales SkillsSales training should also improve sales skills. Representatives should gain new knowledgeabout how to effectively prospect for and deal with clients, and learn new techniques to persuadethem to purchase the product. Review common objections raised by clients and practice handlingthem in live drills, such as role-playing exercises. Upon completion of training, salesrepresentatives should be fully confident in their ability to break the ice with new clients, build asolid business relationship with them, convince them of the value of the product and persuadethem to purchase it.Improve MoraleSales training programs can and should lift morale. Sales representatives should leave thetraining program with a positive attitude and renewed motivation to perform at a high level. Theyshould feel like a respected and important part of a cohesive team and take away a sense of pridefor their company and the products and services they represent.Supervising sales representativesSupervision is generally used today to refer to time spent working with employees to be certainthey are aware of the responsibilities of their job and how to perform them correctly.Becauseof the independent nature of the sales job, most of the supervisory activities sales managersengage in occur when they’re working with new hires. This seemingly simple and potentially
time consuming task should not be taken lightly, as it is a critical element of a sales manager’sresponsibilities. Supervision was an important element in a manager’s position when“management” was first studied,and it continues to be in the twenty-first century.Today, theterm supervisor is seldom heard, yet the act of supervising is no less important than it was acentury ago. Sales managers—and sometimes sales trainers—spend time supervising peopleperforming new tasks. They observe and then offer suggestions for improving theirperformance if needed. Their presence can help ensure that if the salesperson needsassistance, he or she gets it.Whatever you want to call it, supervising involves lots of “handson”time. Mark Baranczyk, the midwest regional sales manager for the Jacob Leinenkugel BrewingCompany, spends about three days each week in the field with his sales representativesproviding personalized supervision. During this time,he reviews the objectives of the call andhelps out reps if he’s needed. If a call goes well, he’ll hold back on participating during the visitand offer a review of the representative’s performance during a “curbside coaching andcounseling” session. Sometimes Baranczyk will know the representative is having difficultiesachieving an objective with a client. During calls such as these, he takes a more active rolehelping to answer questions,providing insight, and overcoming the client’s objections. At timeslike these,Baranczyk needs to use coaching skills to help the salesperson identify and correctany shortcomings they have identified. We present more information about coaching later inthis chapter.Sometimes managers don’t supervise new hires; more experienced sales personneldo.Some companies refer to people such as this as a first-level manager.1 Another source ofsupervisory assistance sales managers use is technology. If a company is using a CRM system,a supervisor can track an employee’s daily activities. This information can provide a salesmanager with insight about how an employee is progressing with his or her customers,whether or not the person is achieving his or her objectives during calls, and using his or hertime wisely.Even if all Sales Representatives had appropriate motivation and could see their own sellingfaults, the need would still exist for someone to decide what each Representative should do inrelation to all other personnel – in order that the Company achieves its Salesobjectives.Supervision primarily entails giving direction to each person’s work and in relation tothe work of others. It should ensure that people do what they should do and do not do uselessthings or activities which harm overall Company objectives. Good supervision will also: (a)provide guidance to improve the abilities and activities of Sales Representatives in their workand (b) encourage and help them so that they can more easily help themselves.SalesRepresentatives have difficulties peculiar to their occupation since most of their work involvesdealing with other people. Success or failure in a sale depends on decisions made by otherpeople. While Representatives can influence the decisions they must face rebuffs, disappoint-ments, rudeness, and “brush-offs”. Supervisors need to offer encouragement and support tomaintain high morale in their Sales force.Supervision of outdoor Sales Representatives hasspecial difficulties. They work over a wide area and often they see no one from their Companyfor several days at a time. They spend a fair proportion of their time travelling, often alone.Sometimes they have to put up with unsatisfactory accommodation and meals. They frequentlyhave to travel away from their families for long periods. In these circumstances – especially afteran unsuccessful day – Sales Representatives can rate their work as unrewarding. Thesedifficulties mean that Managers need to offer a high quality of supervision. The fact that
travelling time restricts contact between Supervisor and Sales Representatives makes the taskeven more difficult.MOTIVATING SALES REPRESNTATIVESAny manager, coach, or teacher knows the difficulty of getting people to perform better. It is onething to get reps excited and energized at a sales meeting-but quite another to maintain theirenthusiasm over the long haul. Whether you are trying to motivate your sales team or yourself,consider the following strategies that will drive you to action:Picture the PossibilitiesThere are bumper stickers everywhere that call us to visualize world peace. From globalharmony to personal performance, visualization is an important step in the realization of anygoal. Begin by imagining your company as the industry leader. See each of your representativesas superstars--and treat them that way. Goethe stated the principle this way: "Treat a man as heappears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentiallycould be, and you make him what he should be."Encourage your team to see themselves at thetop of the sales chart or accepting your companys highest sales honor. Ask them to think aboutwhat they would do with the additional bonus or commission money after they have earned it.The seed of powerful motivation starts with seeing the desired result as if it already happened.Get Really PersonalAs you begin to introduce new sales goals, remember the channel every rep is tuned to: WIIFM--Whats In It For Me? Describe how the new goals will benefit each member of your team in apersonal way. You will ignite their energy and excitement needed get the job done. Keep inmind, "Winners are ex-losers that just got passionate." For enthusiasm to stick, the more personalthe vision, the more powerful the performance.Praise ProgressMotivation that leads to peak performance boils down to this basic formula:Accomplishment + Acknowledgment = Achievement2Most human beings are driven by an innate desire to make a difference, to be of contribution. Byacknowledging the success and good works of your people, you will promote exponentialincreases inperformance. One easy way to do this is to follow Tom Peters advice, catch yourpeople doing something right. Be generous with praise. Look for ways to acknowledge peoplefor their performance and effort. If their efforts fall short of your expectations use the Stroke andKick Approach. "Stroke" by acknowledging something good in their actions then "Kick" with agentle nudge toward improved performance. For example, "Jerry, your closing skills are the bestin the company, but what can be done to improve the number of calls you make?"
Show Me the MoneySalespeople are motivated by money and the opportunity to make more. Financial incentives tiedto achievement is just another form of acknowledgment. In fact, bonus money provides a doubleincentive. The chance to earn more money and receive the recognition that comes with theachievement. Be sure to tie reward to superior work performance. Special bonus rewardsreceived without an extra effort are not special at all. When creating financial incentives tomotivate your sales team, remember the German proverb: "He who likes cherries soon learns toclimb!"The Ball Goes in the CupIn golf, landing on the green isnt enough to win the match. If you want your people to achievespecific goals clearly communicate your expectations and ideals for success. Don Shulaattributes his success as the winningest coach in NFL history to the " result of a strong set ofoperating beliefs and principles.You wont be a successful leader if you dont have a clear idea ofwhat you believe, where youre headed, and what you are willing to go to the mat for." Goals thatare just out of reach--not out of sight, are the most powerful, so remember to keep them realistic.The more vivid the vision, the more real the results.No Train No Gain!Give your people the tools and training to become successful. Top teams learn from top coachs.Provide the best training you can afford. Consider it an investment that will pay higher dividendsin outstanding performance. Thomas Jefferson said it best, "Of all of the investments you canmake, education pays the best interest". Motivate yourself and your people with these ideas thensit back and watch the mountains move.EVALUATING SALES REPRESENTATIVESOnce you have engaged sales representation, whether using a commission sales force or a housesales rep, or entering one of the collective arrangements, you will want to measure and evaluatesales performance on a regular and continual basis. There are a number of performance indicesthat should be followed and studied. Eight areas of evaluation are listed below; the first fivefocus on the question of how hard the rep is selling. Although much of what follows pertainsmore to managing an independent commission sales force, the principles may be extrapolated toevaluating other types of reps as well. It should be noted at the outset that sales increases are, bythemselves, not an accurate gauge of performance, and a commission arrangement does notguarantee maximum sales and efficient self-management.1. Visits. Consider first how many accounts your rep is visiting each season. Routinely review allorders received and books sold. This will tell you whether or not your rep is working every day.Track the number of sales calls made each season. If the number of visits is decreasing, it couldbe because of illness, lethargy, or even factors such as the overexpansion of a reps line so thatnot as many accounts can be seen each season. In any case, the number and quality of visits is akey indicator. As a rep gets to know a territory better, he or she can get around faster and learn
what buyers are interested in; therefore, visits go more quickly and smoothly, leaving time fornew accounts to be opened.The visitation pattern defines the reps sales strategy. By seeing major accounts first, back orderson major books grow early in the season, and this gives a marketing director time to adjust printruns. The rep should call on small specialty accounts last in a season, and perennial stop-shipaccounts last, if at all. At the end of each season, review what new accounts were opened, and besure all major and midsize accounts were visited.Sales managers should closely track the number and quality of new seasonal orders received.(Note that this is different from backlist orders generated by bookstore computers and forwardedto reps for processing.) Comparing orders with itinerary/call lists will tell you how many visitsyielded orders. (Often catalogs are left, or tentative orders taken, and the rep is told, "Well mailthe order in to you." The latter often require phone follow-up, so the number of orders taken isvery important.)2. Orders. While the number of orders is important, their quality may be more significant. If therep is doing a good job, he or she will present the entire list, including backlist. Close perusal ofrep orders will tell the sales manager whether or not the rep is using the full sales kit (if, forexample, anthologies are sold to contributors, local bookstores), if your rep is a real care-giver(i.e., special attention is given to orphans on your list), if your rep understands the fine linebetween representing the publisher and representing the bookseller (i.e., includes text orders onsales rep order forms), and if your rep is opportunistic (i.e., responds quickly to important bookreviews and finds new markets for your titles).3. Unit Sales. Keeping in mind the changing size and quality of your new offerings and backlistas well as the percentage of cloth and paper of your list, you should track whether or not yourfrontlist and backlist unit sales are increasing or decreasing.4. Net Sales. Certainly turnover in a particular sales territory needs close watching, but this canbe a deceptive measure of performance. Factors independent of the reps selling work caninfluence sales, for example: the growth of superstores and other chains, a shift in buying for animportant regional chain into or out of a territory, and the opening or closing of key independentaccounts. Major reviews of a lead book, or of a major regional book, can inflate sales figuresindependent of a reps work, and economic conditions or natural disasters can depress sales. Ifyou have the capability, track the value of orders taken, rather than the value of shipments, sincethe latter can be adversely affected by late arrival of stock and by credit problems.5. Organization, Communication, and Information. Some aspects of this measure areintangible; nevertheless, reps should demonstrate in a concrete manner that they can handle theadministrative side as well as the selling side of representation. The most important evidence thata rep is organized is a written itinerary. Reps should supply a list of accounts to be visited in eachcity, with dates; such a list keeps booksellers informed, ensures that important accounts arevisited, and lets you handle special sales accounts yourself.
It is unusual with commission sales reps, but house reps often submit a weekly call sheet,detailing who has been seen (who is only getting catalogs, and who is stiffing whom onappointments), what is selling, whats not, and why (to provide an opportunity toreposition/rethink books and/or adjust print runs), coop/signing ideas or interest, customerservice problems, and any reason why a backlist order has not been taken.Publishers often find that a monthly or seasonal summary memo is useful. Some information ismost efficiently gathered by the press itself; how ever, since most university press salesmanagers are unable to get into the field very much, the reps eyes and ears are extremelyimportant to publishers marketing decisions. The publisher may be able to follow trends shownin order data but still needs to know why certain accounts are doing better or worse compared tolast season, and why it is seeing changes in frontlist/backlist buying patterns. In addition, thesales manager needs to hear firsthand what the impact of superstores or chain stores in theterritory was and what accounts were opened or closed and which ones are in trouble.Sales reps must have the equipment to do the job. Their specific needs will depend on what kindof sales force you have, and whether or not a rep handles some administrative work for a salesgroup or not. These days, reps should have faxes, and one would hope that they have computerprograms with the capability to develop a database of accounts for mailings and to develop,review, and then prioritize an account list. Obviously, independent commission reps will need toinvest more in equipment than a house sales force will, since much of the latters administrativetasks are handled by the publisher.Finally, whether you use house reps or commission reps, you have a right to expect promptanswers to your inquiries and speedy processing of orders and other paperwork. Again, how wellreps handle this illustrates how well they respond to customers.6. Sales Conference. This may be the only opportunity to size up your sales representativesface-to-face, so try to make the most of this time together. The first test, of course, is whetheryour reps show up. If not, that says something about the way they manage appointments withcustomers. Whether you have house reps or commission reps, you have a right to expect thatthey will be prepared, enthusiastic, and productive at sales conferences. The sales managershould assess the reps performance at each sales conference, and first of all, ascertain if each rephas reviewed the catalog pages in advance. Consider the following: Does the rep help positionbooks and clarify markets for titles? Can he or she provide a quick, thoughtful reality check onmarketing concerns, such as print runs, jacket comps, ad placements, and places for parties?Does a rep subject a book or author to his or her political litmus test, or does your rep complainabout every hardcover trade book and suggest that you do it in paperback instead? Does your repgo off on tangents that are of marginal relevance to the book at hand or are focused on narrowconcerns of sales force, or does this person see the "big picture"?7. Handling Regional Shows. These meetings are of varying importance to presses, dependingon the overall list size and its salability within particular regions. Commission sales repsroutinely attend and display books at these meetings. If you have commission reps, they shouldoffer you the chance to participate.
Carefully coordinate what to display and offer. Observe how your rep prepares for exhibits withmailings to accounts featuring presses, titles, offers, and giveaways. In addition to orders, ask fora memo summarizing attendance, interest in titles, and new accounts seen (even if no orders aretaken).From time to time, the sales manager should try to attend these regional trade shows, even if thepress does not take its own table. It is a good way to observe your reps in action as well as a cost-efficient way to get closer to the marketplace.8. The Intangibles. There are some truly subjective measures of performance. Here are a few.Does your rep find time outside of sales conferences to visit and talk? Does your rep check induring the season? When you (the sales manager) call, what is the reps attitude? Does he or shesee inquiries and requests for information as necessary to a sales directors job, not asharassment? When you share data on their performance, do they see this evaluation as helpful,not threatening? Does your rep allow you to sit in on occasional sales calls to key accounts? Willthe rep graciously help with problems, such as nudging accounts on stop-ship? What dobooksellers think of your reps selling ability?Finally, it must be noted that if your reps are doing a good job, make sure you tell them so.Although we may forget it, we all know from our own evaluations how important this is.