In this blurry new, multi-tasking, on-line opportunistic world in which we all now live – it can sometimes be a little difficult to work out where marketing strategy stops and the sales process begins.
So, as a sales manager, it’s become more difficult to draw a distinct line between all the things a sales team should be doing – and all the activities that they love to spend time on – but lead them away from the straight and true path of your perfectly worked out plan.
I’ve always liked how this quick circus analogy explains the differences between Marketing (Advertising, Promotion, Publicity, PR) and Sales.
If your circus is coming to town and you pay to have a poster on a billboard that says “The Circus Will be at the Football Ground on Saturday,” that’s Advertising.
If you put the same sign on the back of an elephant and walk it all the way through the town centre, that’s Promotion.
If the elephant “unexpectedly” walks through the mayor’s front garden and the local papers “just happen” to be there and write about it, that’s Publicity.
If you get the mayor to see the funny side – as well as the opportunity – and then you laugh together about the unfortunate elephant based madness, in front of all the reporters, photographers and prospective customers – that’s PR.
If those prospective customers then buy tickets for the circus off you, and you answer all their questions and explain how much fun they’ll have if they hook-a-duck or hit the bell with the hammer when they visit the many entertainment booths, and ultimately, they spend lots of money at the circus- that’s Sales.
Here’s the problem though.
A large group of salespeople – whose sole purpose is to sell – think their time could be better spent elsewhere, away from all that boring, unproductive sales stuff.
They think they should be growing the business and driving customers towards them by taking the elephant for a walk or finding a way to make the mayor laugh. (They’re also usually the ones who dream of winning The Apprentice, but that’s another article all together)
Here’s a question to all the sales managers out there;
If it was your job to ensure that a swamp was cleared by the end of the month and everyone who worked for you just decided to do their own thing – created their own interpretation of what you actually meant by “help me clear this swamp” – would that be acceptable?
No – I know it wouldn’t – but I’ve seen it happen with far too many sales targets and business plans.
So, why is it that – once you’ve created that perfect swamp clearing plan and readied yourself for the long hours and focused effort required – the team suddenly decide that it would be a much better idea instead, if they;
- Planted a few herbaceous borders to make the swamp look a little brighter, or
- Wrote you a detailed plan about why you should outsource some of the jobs that they thought were beneath them, or
- Started to find new homes for the recently displaced alligators, or
- Spent time starting to build a long term relationship with the drainage company, or
- Just tried to dump their bit of the swamp behind another colleague’s wheel barrow.
When we talk about FOCUS, we ask the question – WHAT – as in “What jobs need doing?”
And when we talk about ACCOUNTABILITY we ask the question – WHO – as in “Whose job is it?”
Here’s a phrase I want you to take VERY seriously;
As a sales manager it is not your job to hit the sales target – it’s your job to ensure the target gets hit!
Subtle difference in words – massive difference in results.
When I was a sales director a while back, we were recruiting to expand the field sales team and I asked the Southern Sales Manager what he was looking for in a perfect candidate, to which he answered;
“Someone who makes my job as easy as possible.”
Simple, honest, precise – and spot on.
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