Are You In The Midst of Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager?

The good news is that if you are, you are not alone. The bad news is that firing and replacing your sales manager typically results in repeating this cycle not increasing revenue.

This raises the question “is your sales manager the problem or have you unintentionally set them up for failure?” With this in mind, here are some questions to ponder before firing and replacing your sales manager.  Does your sales manager:

  1. Have time to sell, manage and improve your sales infrastructure?
  2. Receive compensation for simultaneously selling, managing, and improving your sales infrastructure?
  3. Possess the process skills, knowledge, and experience to sell, manage, and improve your sales infrastructure?
  4. Have the support of your company culture to sell, manage, and improve your sales infrastructure?

With that said, let’s explore these questions to see if firing and replacing your sales manager makes sense.

Does Your Sales Manager Have Time to Simultaneously Sell, Manage and Improve Your Sales Infrastructure?

Are your expectations so high that the probability of firing and replacing your sales manager is high?  More often than not, sales managers are expected to be James Bond-like revenue heroes that can simultaneously:

  1. Generate immediate sales from his or her own personal black book of contacts.
  2. Hire and coach a continuous flow of quality salespeople that immediately pay for themselves.
  3. Build their company sales approach, including sales collateral, messaging, playbook, scripts, etc.
  4. Establish an accurate sales forecasting process and sales plan.
  5. Build sales management practices i.e. hiring, onboarding, training, coaching, evaluating, and compensating.
  6. Deploy sales technology (phones, auto-dialers, CRM, marketing automation, etc.) to enable salespeople.

The Harvard Business Revenue article “Understanding What Your Sales Manager Is Up Against” sheds light on high expectations.

Questions

  1. With this intense set of expectations are you setting yourself up to fire and replace your sales manager?
  2. Is it humanly possible to simultaneously manage all six expectations above and achieve success?
  3. How much time each month do you expect your sales manager to spend on each of the six responsibilities above?

Also, it’s not uncommon for business leaders to leave time management prioritization to their sales manager.  Consequently, I have found that sales managers spend their time either:

  • Selling—which leads to short-term revenue growth but little development of the sales infrastructure required to scale revenue. In this situation, the discussion to fire and replace your sales manager typically surfaces within 18 to 24 months.
  • Building Sales Infrastructure —which leads to little or no short-term revenue. In this situation, the discussion to fire and replace your sales manager typically surfaces within 6 to 12 months.

 In either case, firing and replacing your sales manager is more likely than revenue growth.

Time Management - Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager

Is Your Sales Manager Compensated For Simultaneously Selling, Managing, and Improving Your Sales Infrastructure?

I’ve found two common compensation challenges that lead to a discussion about firing and replacing your sales manager:

  1. The first occurs when companies hire a sales manager for $75K to $175K and expect them to perform like a Chief Sales Leader paid $275 to $450K.
  2. The second occurs when incentive compensation plans focus exclusively on revenue growth. This causes sales managers to focus their attention on selling with little to no time spent on managing and improving sales infrastructure.

It’s problematic when you are looking for a James Bond-like revenue hero at the price of a revenue hero in training.  It’s even more problematic when you are looking for your sales manager to manage and improve your sales infrastructure out of the goodness of their heart.

Questions:

  1. Are your compensation expectations aligned with your sales manager expectations?
  2. How much of your sales manager compensation is focused on managing and improving sales infrastructure?

When offering low compensation, with high expectations it’s common to end up hiring a sales manager that is either:

  1. Too expensive – which leads to offering a compensation plan that is heavily-weighted with long-term, high-risk equity incentives. This usually results in the sales manager leaving the company within 12 to 18 months because their compensation expectations are not being met. Thus, negating the discussion about firing and replacing your sales manager.
  2. Affordable – which commonly leads to offering a title promotion like Vice President, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President. This creates a proud sales manager. But unfortunately, leads to a discussion about firing and replacing your sales manager from 12 to 18-months. Why? Because they lack the experience to simultaneously sell while managing and improving a sales infrastructure.

 In either case, firing and replacing your sales manager is more likely than revenue growth.

Compensation - Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager

Does Your Sales Manager Possess The Right Skills, Knowledge, and Experience?

When you are caught in a cycle of firing and replacing your sales manager, it’s common to find that sales managers are expected to possess process knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  1. Sell to Cover His or Her Cost. This includes generating leads, scheduling appointments, qualifying buyers, demonstrating offerings, pricing and proposals, and closing deals.
  2. Manage Sales Execution including sales practices, people, technology, and information.
  3. Build Sales Strategy including forecasting, planning, organization structure, and culture.
  4. Evaluate Sales Results – including tracking, analyzing, reporting and improving.
  5. Engage with Investors – including explaining your revenue growth plan, execution, and results.

Unfortunately, there are not many James-bond revenue heroes out there that possess knowledge, skills, and experience in all five.  This contributes to the discussion about firing and replacing your sales manager.

It’s worth noting that there is no universally accepted framework for building, managing, and improving a sales team.  This contributes to the discussion about firing and replacing your sales manager.

Check out The Chief Sales Leader Framework™.  It provides you with in-depth information about the three strategic and twelve operating processes that are required for sales team success.  You can also check out The Chief Sales Leader Roadmap™.  It provides with step-by-step instructions on how to improve your sales team.

Questions:

  1. What level of process knowledge, skills and experience do you expect your sales manager to have?
  2. What steps are you taking to develop your sales managers process knowledge and skills in all five areas?
  3. Are you providing process coaching for your sales manager in all five areas?

In many cases, business leaders have simply not thought about this.  They just want their sales manager to sell, manage salespeople, and build out their sales team.  This typically results in hiring a sales manager that has the knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  1. Sell and manage sales people which causes them to struggle with managing the other processes.
  2. Build strategy and evaluate sales execution which causes them to struggle with managing salespeople.

 In either case, firing and replacing your sales manager is more likely than revenue growth.

Process Skills - Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager

Does Your Company Culture Support Your Sales Managers and People?

I’ve found that there are two primary culture challenges that drive the discussion about firing and replacing your sales manager:

  1. Cultures that are openly condescending and hostile toward sales managers and people. This is especially prevalent in companies with technically oriented professionals i.e. engineering, accounting, finance, medical, legal, software programming, etc..
  2. Many business leaders want an entrepreneurial company culture, yet want their sales manager to run a structured, disciplined sales team.

Unfortunately, even a James Bond-like revenue hero would struggle in either or both of these company cultures. This will contribute to the discussion about firing and replacing your sales manager.

Questions:

  1. Does your company culture honor and respect the sales profession or despise it?
  2. Do your company leaders openly look down upon and mock the sales profession or vocally support it?
  3. Does your company culture celebrate and reward structure, discipline, and predictability or fight it?

The situation is further complicated when sales managers come from either a:

  1. Large process-minded company culture. So, they struggle in a fast-paced, ever-changing entrepreneurial environment.
  2. Small entrepreneurial company or start-up culture. So, they struggle to bring the structure and discipline that is required to scale a sales team.

 In either case, firing and replacing your sales manager is more likely than revenue growth.

Company Culture - Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager

How Do You Break The Cycle of Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager?

If you ask ten people this question odds are that you’ll receive ten unique answers. With that said, I’ve found that breaking the cycle of firing and replacing your sales manager has three operational steps:

1. Focus your sales managers time, compensation, and responsibilities on:

a. Selling to generate immediate sales from his or her own personal black book of contacts.
b. Hiring, training, and coaching salespeople.

2. Have another executive or part-time retained management consultant focus on building, managing and improving your sales:

a. Strategy, forecasting, planning, organization structure, and culture.
b. Execution procedures, management practices, technology, and information.
c. Measurement, tracking, analysis, reporting and process improvement.
d. Investor engagement to explain your revenue growth plan, execution and results.
e. Manager development into a Chief Sales Leader to manage the responsibilities above.

3. Enhance your company culture to value the sales profession by:

a. Continuously educating all employees and executives on the twelve sales processes.
b. Engaging all employees and executives in reviewing sales call recordings and/or riding along with field salespeople.
c. Publicly recognizing and celebrating your sales culture, managers, and people.

Who Is Most Qualified to Build, Manage, and Improve Your Sales Insfrastructure?

The recommendation above for breaking the cycle of firing and replacing your sales manager can be challenging to implement. Here are some evaluation criteria to help you decide who is best equipped to help you break the cycle.

Does the executive or part-time retained management consultant:

  1. Have time to devote to build, manage and improve your sales infrastructure?
  2. Know the best practices required to execute with precision—effectively, efficiently and predictably?
  3. Possess the knowledge, skills, and experience to build, manage, and improve your sales infrastructure?
  4. Do they have a passion for building, managing, and improve your sales infrastructure?
  5. Do they possess the coaching skills and experience to develop your sales manager into a Chief Sales Leader?

Here’s a sample chart to help you complete this assessment:

Comparison Chart - Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager

Conclusion About Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager

There are steps that you can take to break the cycle of firing and replacing your sales manager. The first step is to focus your sales manager on selling and managing salespeople.  The second step is to use other executives or a retained management consultant to build, manage, and improve your sales infrastructure.  This will save time, money, morale, and careers by:

  1. Expediting short-term revenue growth.
  2. Relieving non-sales related pressure on your sales manager.
  3. Ensuring that your sales team is using best practices.
  4. Developing your sales manager into a future Chief Sales Leader.

Final Thoughts About Firing and Replacing Your Sales Manager

There are additional tools that you can use to break the cycle of firing and replacing your sales manager, including:

Conducting a sales manager Job Candidate Process Interview prior to interviewing them to:

  1. Pinpoint each candidates level of knowledge, skills, and experience in each sales infrastructure process.
  2. Provide targeted questions for business leaders to ask during interviews.
  3. Eliminate candidates that have limited knowledge, skills, and experience with sales infrastructure processes.

Conducting a Sales Manager Assessment to help you:

  1. Understand your sales managers (and business leaders) knowledge, skills, and experience with each sales infrastructure process.
  2. Build a sales manager development plan to enhance their skills and knowledge in each sales infrastructure process.
  3. Pinpoint specific sales management training needs.

Conducting a Sales Team Assessment to help you:

  1. Pinpoint sources of chronic underperformance.
  2. Focus process improvement efforts within and between each sales infrastructure process.

So Please Take A Minute To:

  1. Write a comment on this post to let us know your expectations.
  2. Ask a Question about how to break the cycle of firing and replacing your sales manager.
  3. Share this blog with other sales leaders, salespeople, CEO’s and investors.

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