Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"We Didn’t Meet Our Expectations, Therefore We Fired The Sales Manager"

"We Fired The Sales Manager"
A couple of weeks ago I did receive a comment from one of this blog’s readers who indicated that in the company he was working with as CEO, they had decided to fire their sales manager "because they didn’t met their company’s expectations".

Of course, so that I could get a clearer idea of ​​the situation serving to frame such a decision, I asked him if they had followed a business plan when they first started running the business, or even a marketing strategy, or had made a complete analysis of what their business situation was, even asked him if they had made all necessary efforts to find out where was the root of the problems the company was going through, or even situations that led the company to not meeting all expectations they had set for the corresponding period of time.

His answer caught me by surprise as he confessed they had done nothing of what I mentioned to him, therefore I was able to understand the decision to fire the sales manager was simply based on the generic "non-fulfillment of expectations" and these expectations were tied to maintaining an ever growing sales volume. So it was a natural consequence, "sales went down, they had to cut the sales manager’s head."

Why is there the belief that firing the person responsible of any department will make all related problems vanish?

And at least in this case, they only fired the sales director. I have known similar situations in which they have got rid of almost the entire sales team. To put it briefly, stories like the ones we already know.

What hits me the most is the fact that it’s really easy for mosts business owners to blame the sales department, or its manager, when there is a significant drop in sales, or when simply, "sales do not fulfill company’s expectations."

It’s always easier to isolate the problem into a single person and believe, even if it’s only for your own comfort or self-conviction, that by firing the person, your problem will be solved, but reality shows it’s not so simple.

Is this why people say "the rope always breaks at its thinnest point"?

There are so many elements which can affect the sales performance of any product or business. The causes pushing a customer to decide and do business with another company might be so varied, even just to make him choose one product instead of another, that it doesn’t look to me as the most appropriate decision to fire the sales manager without having in advance analyzed which were the real causes for the sales drop.

What if the reason for the sales drop was a highly aggressive and competitive market, or a poor advertising campaign? What if there were some other factors involved, which the company ignores?

In a previous post on this blog I mentioned that a sales representatives should only be considered as the tip of the iceberg in a comprehensive marketing strategy which extends from the product itself to the advertising message your paying customer receives from you, including all multiple communication channels available today and all the contact points your company maintains with the client and the market.

Whether it’s the person making the final product delivery, or a store attendant who gave your customer all initial information, or the website through which the customer placed its order.

There are so many contact points, and so varied, that seems a complete nonsense to hold accountable, or isolate as the only responsible for the whole thing, to just a particular agent, specially when the company itself hasn’t done its homework properly and doesn’t even have enough evidence to make an informed decision.

Properly selling a product is much more than simply having a sales rep on the road doing cold calls.

And I say the company hasn’t done its homework because having a sales  department without backing their work up with a business plan or an specific sales strategy, is simply sending people out to the street, selling your products by cold calling and nothing else.

Those guys do not have the minimum support all companies should offer their sales operations so they can be managed more effectively and professionally.

In every opportunity I have to comment about this subject, I always like to refer to the sales representative as nothing more than the farmer who harvest fruits planted by the company through a comprehensive marketing strategy, properly planned and well executed.

However, I do have to insist every salesperson or representative should be deeply and professionally prepared to do their job, yes, that is required. However the simple skill of "knowing how to sell" doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to close every business opportunity you open up for the company.

Just being a good sales guy does not guarantee you’ll be closing all sales opportunities you’ve generated.

I do know many of us which it were like that! If only sales skills were required to do the job, then there would be many sales professionals earning hundreds of thousands of euros, dollars or any currency you might think of.

And we know that it is not the case.

The real  challenge is for the company to understand there are multiple factors which can affect the sales performance of any product, and that the company itself should be actively involved in managing its sales area, building an scenario that invites customers to make a positive decision towards the company and its products or services, taking advantage of all multiple communication channels and strategies available today.

Believing that firing your sales director is going to solve all your problems, is like trying to cover the sun with one finger. We all know it is not possible.

Photo Credit: studiostoks | Ver portfolio

I recommend you reading the following posts in this blog:
What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?
Why Do I Have To Sell More If I’m Fine With What I’m Selling Now?
What Can You Do When Your Business Sales Are In “Free-falling” Mode?

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