What Great Sales Managers Know

Hire the Right People
There is an old adage – “Hire slow but fire fast”. Consider this when selecting your candidate.  teresabioToo many managers make the mistake of hiring too quickly, or for the wrong reasons, and end up regretting it when the cycle quickly repeats itself. Use a proven interview tool which asks probing, behavior-based questions. Consider using a skills/behavior assessment tool to find the right match against a predetermined benchmark. Skills can be trained or honed, but instincts and character cannot. You either have it or you don’t. Avoid trying to put a round peg in a square hole.

Training is the Path to Success
Train thoroughly and demand active participation and commitment from your team member. Use a training tool which doubles as an accountability checklist. Revisit this tool often and carve out time during each ride along or visit to ensure that training is on track.

Coach Your Team
Coach every chance you get! Coaching moments exist everywhere. Face to face coaching is clearly the most effective and timely, but coaching can also be done over the phone and even in email. Never let a coaching opportunity pass you by.

Challenge and Grow
A sales staff is usually comprised of people at all different places in the learning curve. Keep everyone engaged at his or her own place or risk losing a newbie because he does not understand, or boring a more tenured person. Keep them focused and challenged in order to keep them growing.

Demand Excellence
Set standards and demand that they be met. People will perform to the level of expectations set. If you will accept mediocre performance, that is what you are going to get. At the same time, remember that sometimes “Good really is good enough”. Pick your battles, and keep the most important things the most important things.

Set Goals
Set targets and goals regularly. Reaching small goals usually brings big results. Set weekly performance goals. Hold monthly challenges. Inspire competition.

Celebrate and Praise
Praise publicly and celebrate with your team, both individually as well as in group. Hand-written Thank Yous and notes of congratulations or encouragement go a long way. Make time to publicly celebrate victories (top performers, challenge winners, exceptional sales calls, etc.) Small tokens such as ribbons or medals may seem silly, but most sales people will treasure them. Keep in mind that salespeople are often motivated by recognition. Don’t underestimate a “High Five” in the parking lot after a successful sales call! The opposite side to this coin, discipline or course correction, should be handled privately in a swift manner with an eye on improvement. Get the salesperson’s buy- in by giving them input. Course correction should be handled firmly, but kindly. Remember that in most cases, discipline or course correction is about a behavior and not about the person.

Know your Team
Ask your team members what motivates them. You may be surprised. Take the time to develop teamwork when possible by encouraging your staff to get to know each other as well. Remember special occasions such as birthdays. People like to feel important.

Be Present
Be truly present when you are with a salesperson. Try not to allow distractions and minimize phone calls and other work. Understand that this may be a routine day for you, but guaranteed, your salesperson probably does not feel that way. Whether they welcome your visit or ride-along or not, your presence is important. Make the most of your time, whether it is on a sales call or another coaching moment. Encourage your team to keep an ongoing list or folder with current questions or support needs.

Be Accessible and Approachable
Admit that you are not perfect and that if you are any good, you are still learning too. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Encourage your team to take risks and step outside of their comfort zones by modeling. And, keep in mind that there is no I in Team. Make sure your team knows that you are on their side and that you are in it together.

Why Healthcare Sales IS Different!

Let’s see; we’ve all heard that a good salesman can sell ice to an Eskimo or heard,” She is quite a talker; she should be in sales”. Neither by the way is true. A good salesman would know that an Eskimo doesn’t need or want ice and a great sales person is much better at listening than talking.

However, I digress!

As much as we may want sales to be the same whether you are selling Pepsi, BMW’s or a nursing home bed; it is not! They are each tangible products; they are wanted or needed by the consumer and for many companies they enjoy a solid reputation for delivering what the consumer needs. They even have about the same selling cycle length.

Mrs. Smith walks into a store and wants a soft drink; she will choose among many. Most likely she may narrow it down to Coke or Pepsi. Mr. Smith walks into a dealership and wants to buy a car; he will choose among many. Most likely, he may narrow it down to a BMW or a Lexus. Mr. & Mrs. Smith walk into a hospital where they will be asked to decide on a next location for Mom. They will choose among many. Most likely, they will narrow it down to the top two suggestions.

So, then why is the sale different?It has to do with culture, corporate culture. Pepsi and BMW are sales-driven cultures while healthcare is operations driven. Neither is good or bad, just different. They take the company in different directions and that impact is felt most directly in the sales organization of both cultures.

The sales-driven company begins with the end in mind; the end being profit, margins and revenue growth. The budgeting process sets clear expectations for growth; sales hiring is meticulously rigorous; accountability is excruciating at all levels. Compensation programs are often an open-ended opportunity for sales people to produce. Operations meetings begin with market analysis, product trends and sales projections. The key person at the table is the CMO and the COO.

The operations-driven company also begins with the end in mind; the end being delivering a quality product. The budgeting process is often a laborious process to determine how to deliver the product and still make a profit; sales hiring practices are a de-centralized function concerned more with team matches and customer service attributes than with producing revenue. Compensation programs are viewed as expected but unnecessary. Operations meetings begin with a cost and budget analysis by department in painful but necessary detail. The market /sales discussion may be moved, delayed or hurried at the end of the meeting. . The key person at the table is the COO with no CMO.

Healthcare is an operations-driven organization. This difference in healthcare’s focus reverberates throughout the company. It shines a laser-light on clinical issues, human resource issues, turn-over and regulations. It is not that sales expectations are unimportant; they are simply far down on the list. There is often a tendency to believe that we would exist happily without a sales focus; a sort-of “build it and they will come” attitude. Heaven help the Pepsi, GM or BMW CEO who tries to compete with this mindset