Power Tools : Complete Management

“Poof Management” & COACHING

Poof! No country in the industrialized world “poofs” people into management better than this one, and due to the makeover of American business, poof management is here to stay. Corporate America is downsizing, and small businesses - start up and mergers - are reshaping the American business scene. And that means there are more managers just “shooting from the hip.”

Today, you’re the proud owner or the CEO of a thriving, growing business. You need to promote a person to management - whether he or she deserves it or not. The promotion fairy comes by and waves her magic wand. Poof! Next day, that person is the manager and is in charge of a team.

But who has prepared the newly minted manager for this transformation? Yesterday, he or she thought only about himself or herself. Today, he or she is the boss. That manager has to shift the thought process by 180 degrees. Now the team comes first.

Imagine a blind person teaching another blind person how to ride a motorcycle. It sounds silly, but this occurs every day in our world of business. That’s why we must think of ourselves as coaches. Do we go in for the player, or do we watch him or her make the plays and correct the performance from the sidelines? A coach’s job is to bring players to a higher level of performance...period!

When I look back at my own career, everything I did to be a good manager was dead wrong. I did what I thought was best. I just used my own judgment. But when I began reading and studying the art and science of management, I realized that I was headed in the wrong direction.

So who has prepared today’s managers for their leading roles - how to think of the team first, and how to motivate and communicate ideas? Managers need to grow and get better at their jobs. Send them back to school. Let every new manager study the new job and become a master of the craft of management. Remember: Top managers or leaders were not born; they were made and continue to get better all the time.

The bookstore and the library are the places to gather more knowledge about managing. (If they don’t like to read, then get video or audio tapes, or arrange for live seminars). Keep in mind that if there were one way to manage, there would be only one book. Obviously, there are hundreds to choose from, including The One Minute Manager and Lincoln on Leadership.

There are many examples of executive vice presidents of sales who were accountants by training and CEO’s pulled from the engineering ranks. Now, these people in leadership positions are sometimes heading their troops in the wrong direction, even the wrong battle. Before you poof someone, ask yourself if that person is ready for the position. Does he or she have the skills, the knowledge and the desire for the position?

If the person becomes sales manager, does he or she understand sales? Was that person a superstar or an average player? An average person will probably develop an average team.

Is your system set up for coaching? Are you managers in the field with your people?If not, why? And what will it take to create that atmosphere and ensure success? Where inside sales and customer service are concerned, how often is your manager or supervisor out of the office and coaching the staff?

What are your ongoing methods for teaching and learning? Is it just once or all the time? The better trained and more knowledgeable the management is, the better the team will perform.

As a CEO or an EVP, do what Tom Peters said more than a decade ago-MBWA. Oh yeah, that stands for manage by wandering around. The more you are out of your office watching and observing your employees, instead of managing paper or looking at a computer, the better your people will become. It actually shows you care!

The choice is yours. Run in place and go nowhere, or better yourself and take your people and your company to unimagined heights. Keep this as a final thought: How much do you spend to put on your head (shampoo, conditioner, etc.) compared with how much you spend to put in your head?

To Win the game, be the Coach

Salespeople often take the course of least resistance, and in most companies, the “80-20rule” applies: 80% of the sales are produced by 20% of the sales force. Regardless of the companies you look at, chances are the average sales force is weak. If your salespeople hit quota, that means they just hit average. Above quota is over performance. Most sales trainers agree that 80% of salespeople are average or below average. The key is motivating salespeople to do what they are supposed to do, creating a desire, and getting them to work at their peak performance.

If there were one true way to manage and motivate salespeople, there would be one book or one system. But there isn’t, so we must look at a combination of approaches to sales-force management, and come up with a style that works best with the sales manager’s personality and beliefs.

First, you must set goals or parameters. A phrase I like to use is, “A goal without a plan is a wish.” Next, look at a sales manager like a coach in a professional sport. The coach’s role is to find the best talent and, when he or she finds that talent, to get them to practice to be the best. To do that, the manager must become a scout. The manager should be constantly looking for new talent, whether it is in an associate in a retail store or a great server at a restaurant.

After you put your team together, you have to manage it, or be the coach on the playing field. Now you have to get the salespeople to do what you want them to do. This is achieved through motivation, meetings and discipline. Discipline is most important.

You should have weekly meetings with each member of your sales force to discuss what he or she has done in the past and what they are going to do during the following week. We call these meetings “one on ones.” They usually last 15 minutes or so, and are basically looking at their call sheets and their number of prospects.

Now, to achieve the goals you have set, the members of your sales force must consistently practice the following to be productive:

  • One: They must be prospecting, or going out and looking for new business. Stick to an agreed- on number of calls and make sure they are making those calls each and everyday. (An example could be 15 new business calls per day and 5 calls on existing clients.)
  • Two: When they have the prospects, they must know how to qualify them by asking questions and being investigators. Their job is to find out what the customer wants or needs. You must be in the field, observing them doing this. Do not talk, but watch and take notes. After the call, you review your notes with them and see if they are improving their questioning skills. Remember, you never see a football coach going in for a player who made a mistake on the field. So why do sales managers take over when the call gets tough? They shouldn’t! The salesperson should be allowed to make the sales call while the manager observes. Period!
  • Three: Once they get clients, they must have great follow-up, making sure the customers are satisfied, so that the customers want to refer other clients to your company. Referrals are earned and not asked for. You never see a doctor asking for patient referrals.

The biggest problem sales managers face in retaining good salespeople is motivating them and keeping them happy. People who make money and enjoy what they do are probably going to stay. It is impossible to train desire or attitude, but if those things are part of salespeople’s make-up, then they will succeed in what they are doing.

If the salespeople are doing these three things on a daily basis, and they have a good attitude and enjoy what they are doing, along with excellent product knowledge, you will have a stable sales force with very little turnover.

The key is to manage the salespeople on a daily basis. Get in the field with your people and work with them. Think of it as professional sport: be their coach, be their guide. Be their mentor, be there for them. During the game, you don’t see coaches in offices but on the field! Play the game and be the coach.

The 50/40/10 Plan

First off, let me tell you that I am not bright enough to come up with this concept on my own. But I am clever enough to copy a brilliant idea that Xerox, IBM, Disney, Proctor & Gamble and dozens of other past and present well-run companies have adopted as their “way of life” with respect to management.

We all know and say, “Hey, I am just swamped with no time and I am way to busy to try new stuff”. OK, I will go along with that, but do you want more time to be less swamped and think more like a CEO, or continue to administer like a middle manager?

First off, go into any CEO's office and check out their desk. I bet you will find a lot of wood, glass or Formica. Now go back to your office and check out the piles of paper everywhere. I promise you if you read on, and try the 50/40/10 Plan for 3 weeks, it will change your life.

Assume that your job is to coach (which we have covered previously), and since your people are your highest priority, that is where you should be spending your time. Period. No excuses. Just like the excuses you will hear about why your sales people will not prospect for new business.

So let's assume that Monday morning from 8-10 a.m. you are in the office for meetings, paperwork, etc. That will fall under the “40” of this plan, or 40% of your time. Put it in under ADMINISTRATION.

8-10 AM ADMIN        
10-12 AM BOB-Field        
2-4 PM ADMIN        
4-6 PM OPEN        

Next, you are going in the field with salesperson Bob or you are going to observe your inside telemarketing or customer service staff. Now put that in under their name. This is the50% portion of the plan, called FIELD TIME.

Well, you just got some voice or email, and a few problems. Do not fear. Why? You now have the time to catch up. You are back into the mode of administration of the 40% of your day.

Now, you ask, what is the 10% for? It is for proactive interviewing or acting like a coach and always scouting for new talent. This could be as simple as taking an hour off once a week and going to the mall to shop. Not for “stuff,” but for people. Do this all the time and you will always be ahead of the game with an abundance of candidates for hire. Now all you have to do is fill in the rest of your week. This approach puts your priorities right in front of you and helps you focus on what is important in you day. Naturally, you have to stick to the schedule that you have set out for yourself.

As Zig Zigler always says, “Isn't it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before going on vacation?” We all find time to do things that we want to do, and put off the things that we don't want to do.

Are you figuring this out yet? Do you see what is happening to your life and you time? You are becoming in charge of it, rather than it taking charge of you. After less than one month of doing this you will wonder why didn't you do this before. You will find that you have more time during the day to do what you are supposed to do. You are truly going from day-to-day management to leadership skills, the kind that CEOs have adopted and make routine for their hectic schedule.

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