Archive for March, 2008


Sales Management Abundancy, Sales With Purpose No Comments »

Dear Manager,

As managers, one of the single greatest goals is to maximize the effectiveness of those around us. To achieve this, I believe all of us search for a practical concept that can be easily understood and successfully implemented.

The following is an excerpt from a letter I shared with my own associates. Its concept is basic, direct, and can readily apply in the varied sales territories of any organization.

Dear Associates:

There is a single factor that impacts our ability to succeed more than any other aspect in our career. Time, and our ability to consistently manage it at its highest level, is the defining element for all sales professionals.

All of us challenge ourselves, and have an obvious awareness of our own effectiveness in both the personal and professional elements of our week. There is no limit to each of our own abilities to succeed; there are only limitations in time. In essence, every decision we make comes at the expense of another decision, be it personal or professional. Time is very unforgiving.

The consistent and single most effective formula relating to sales time management is orders per week. There are as many similarities as there are differences in each of our sales regions. Each of us has in excess of 100 customers, represents a premiere manufacturer in our industry, and has a similar number of hours to accomplish our goals.

In our industry, If you were to review the average number of orders written by our associates, it would range from 10 to 28 orders per week. In very similar territories, you would continue to see a very similar range in order activity. How are some associates able to consistently average in excess of 20 orders per week, and others not?

The single greatest message I hear from associates with a higher average is the acceptance that it can be done. They didn’t always average this number of orders. It evolved, and now they expect it.

• These individuals create a very high sense of value toward each appointment.

• They have a very specific expectation and objective for each appointment.

• Both they and their customers sense a degree of urgency relating to each others’ time.

• They are very well organized, and have developed a high level of strong>consistency in servicing customers on a 6 to 8 week cycle.

• Finally, these individuals have been able to tighten their schedule enough to allow for just one more appointment each day on a consistent basis.


My initial goal is for you to develop the “thought process” that will allow you to write 20 orders per week. A full-time sales associate should expect to average at least 4 orders per day. TWENTY ORDERS PER WEEK should be a major and consistent focus. Initially, this may seem difficult, but analyze it as it relates to a typical day.

To adequately fill your schedule, begin by setting 2 to 4 appointments each day. Never leave without scheduling your next appointment 4 to 10 weeks in advance. Always be prepared with a “hook” or objective for the customer’s need to schedule their next appointment. This could be a reference to a new product introduction, an upcoming season, a need for inventory and best seller reorder, or simply to introduce a new manufacturer.

Suggest that it is in your customer’s best interest to see you on a much more frequent basis. This will minimize best seller outages, and promote better cash flow with smaller but more consistent orders.

How can your customers deny you more frequent and smaller orders?

You will find their orders to be similar in size and their annual sales will soar. In all cases, you have to develop the sense of urgency to schedule that next appointment.

If only 2 of your appointments result in an everyday and seasonal order, or orders with 2 separate manufacturers, you have achieved your initial goal of 4 orders per day. With the quality of manufacturers we represent, all of us should be able to schedule 2 appointments and average 2 orders with each appointment.

Set your objective to develop 80 customers who on the average will purchase 2 manufacturers from you. (Some accounts will purchase 3 or 4, others will purchase only 1.) Then, set a goal to see each of these customers on an average 8-week cycle. (Some you will see at 4 weeks, others at 10 weeks.)


It’s an interesting formula that works! It does not take into consideration new account development, additional seasonal orders and accounts that order on a more periodic basis, which will only increase your daily average above 4 orders. Begin by setting an initial objective of 3 orders each day with an eye toward that 4th order. If you are currently averaging 4 per day, is there an opportunity to achieve a 5th order?

This process has already been proven successful within our organization. The key element is not to rely on only two appointments each day to attain your goal. The objective is to consistently have 3 and 4 appointments on a daily basis.

It is accepted that manufacturers of everything from fork lifts to chewing gum all expect growth in a given year. These fundamentals, taken to heart, will provide you with the annual growth anticipated by this organization.

Now is the time to incorporate the elements of this program into your daily routine. This should not require additional hours beyond those of a territory serviced by a full-time sales associate. Please take this challenge to heart. It should be your highest goal. Define your target and expect it to happen.

Using a concept such as this will reinforce your objectives as a manager. Fairness and consistency are critical to any program’s success. Bring visibility to your objectives. Use them in your conversations and future correspondence. Take advantage of the fact that your sales force is focused on a single thought process. Finally, be sure to acknowledge and reward those who achieve their goal.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM

Management, What We Can Expect, Volume XI

Management Rewards, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »

Dear Manager,
In the hiring process, we all hope to come up with that very special find: an individual who exceeds our expectations and achieves greater success than their peers. These types of relationships are rewarding at so many levels they can seem almost magic.

Early in my agency’s growth, I was very fortunate to have one of these individuals join me in Portland to assume sales representative duties for a number of accounts. This was an individual who challenged and rewarded our organization, enjoying success far beyond that of the previous representative. That previous representative was me.

Until that time, most of my company’s rewards had come from personal efforts. This individual’s performance taught me the pride and fulfillment we receive in another’s success. I often think of this relationship with gratitude, and used it as a model for my company. I could never have fully appreciated these achievements without having personally serviced the territory. It was a great lesson.

It seems common for management of both leading manufacturers and sales agencies to minimize the need for their own field-level sales experience. This background is essential to get into the heads of their sales people. Without it, managers may lack the perspective to understand the day-to-day realities of sales associates. These are often the same managers who will speak of a commissioned sales associate in terms of a sub rep. Sub implies they consider their associates something less than a full representative. Why would a manager want to give this impression?

Showing respect and maintaining accountability are two very key elements in any management/sales relationship. Often, management does not fully realize and accept that these qualities have to be established first in their own offices. How can a manager hold others accountable if they have not held themselves accountable for training, proper follow through and timely compensation of their associates? Strong management is consistent.

There is a single standard for both management and associates. It is a high standard of integrity and performance for all involved. Only then can we attract and maintain long term relationships with the very best, at all levels and in all positions, in our offices and in the field.

While working with a regional sales manager who was “at odds” with some of my associates, I developed a list of what I felt were reasonable expectations when working with my organization.


  • The most productive manager is one who can enhance and develop the best qualities in the associates.
  • All sales associates have established their own style. It is our responsibility to enhance and develop their style rather than expect them to mirror our own.
  • Mutual respect is the basic foundation of a successful working relationship. Confidence must be earned through follow up, empathy, encouragement and ongoing support.
  • Assume a supportive secondary role when working with associates. Never compromise the relationship between customers and associates.
  • Manage and motivate with knowledge, sensitivity and understanding of the associate. Align support through asking questions and a positive review of opportunities and concerns. Ask for their support in fulfilling your needs.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of their reality. Encourage an independent ability to achieve your mutual goals. Show an understanding of, andsupport for, their other responsibilities.
  • Challenge their own expectations while bringing out their best. At all costs, protect human dignity.
  • Develop a work with rather than work for attitude. Never manage through intimidation or false power. An independent sales associate’s ultimate responsibility is not only to you.
  • Approach concerns objectively. There is always more to the story. The wrong approach will diffuse your opportunity to resolve the initial concern.
  • A candid and productive relationship is always based on trust. <strong>Never compromise that trust.
  • Ask rather than demand, and anything can be accomplished.

These fundamentals are very basic, and can be understood by all. When applied at all levels of an organization, all individuals derive a greater sense of confidence in their ability to fulfill both personal and organizational expectations.

Only in the success of those around you can you be considered a success. In essence, their success must come first. There needs to be a single priority for all sales-driven companies: creating an environment for accomplishment. This single priority allows associates to maintain full control of their own ability to succeed. This empowerment also gives the associate ultimate responsibility.

When I give a task to an individual, I need the confidence that it will be accomplished. No one has time to baby sit, play games or deal with false egos. This wastes time in areas of no benefit to the organization’s overall objectives. It must be assumed that tasks for both management and its sales staff will be completed in a timely fashion.

When assigning a project to a member of my staff, I look for their input with regards to their ability to accomplish the goal. This effort avoids future misunderstanding concerning my expectations. If a staff member is unable to reach the objective, it is understood that they will be able to come to me with a revised completion date. Never lose touch with the human element in meeting assigned objectives. Expected and unexpected events impact each of our “well organized days.” Should delays occur, a simple discussion or phone call shows commitment and sensitivity to the needs and expectations of both parties.

Early in a working relationship I will often follow up an assignment to insure its completion. This develops an awareness of my expectations and a stronger sense of responsibility to meet our mutual goals. No one likes the unexpected. Simple and reasonable courtesies can, in most cases, avert frustration. When the need for future discussion occurs, focus only on your objective and its positive conclusion. Failing to address these concerns will only show acceptance, and reinforce unacceptable performance.

With these high standards, those around you will flourish or they will not survive. In many instances, those around you will rise to the occasion and, in fact, meet the standards that have been set. When problems arise, discuss them directly with the individual involved in a timely and open manner. Delays only lead to misunderstanding.

Over the years, I have seen manufacturers implement national standards as a reaction to policy abuse by some of their sales agencies. Rather than establishing national policies to address specific problems, manufacturers need to work directly with those agencies who concern them. All agencies should not be held accountable for the poor management of a few. Watch for this pitfall in the management of your own organization.

Always maintain a high level of respect for those you work with. Let them know your expectations. Give them the tools and authority to succeed in their arena. When I work in the field with an associate, I explain I am there to literally and figuratively carry their bags. In respect to their territory, my purpose is to do whatever I can to assist in their current needs and objectives.

Managers should assist, guide and support. They should not feel responsible for solving all their associates’ problems. Associates have ultimate responsibility for their own success. Thinking on their feet, problem solving and overall territory management should fall squarely on their shoulders. This is exactly what the very best associates want.

Personal Regards,

INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL and/or INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM