Archive for January, 2009


Management Rewards, Management Strategies, Sales, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »


Dear Managers,

I have consistently promoted the value of management having first-hand experience in the realities of those they manage. Few of us simply woke up one morning to management; we all took those first difficult steps. While the transition is difficult for many of us, we can at least fall back on the values that provided us with confidence in our previous endeavors. In my case, the need to expand sales efforts was obvious, regardless of my personal abilities to do so. In many instances, business can thrust very good sales people into a management role, whether they are prepared for management or not. Having field experience does not automatically guarantee success in management!

Eventually, I realized that I could provide a great asset to my organization by drawing on my past and remembering how to think like a sales representative. The closer I could stay to that thought process and set of values, the stronger my organization would become.


I have known and worked with several outstanding sales managers who had little or no actual field sales experience. I have known many more, unfortunately, who failed due to their profound inability to relate. I guess it comes down to ones priority in getting on the inside track. Too many managers are distracted by their own course and fail to negotiate the turns. These individuals expect to play the game on their turf and under their rules. Many will fail, never realizing their potential. Those who find a measure of success, yet begin to believe their own press, will never address their shortcomings. From my experience, and without question, this single dynamic consistently robs many managers and their companies of success.

Unfortunately, some managers with field experience choose to forget their lessons and become what they perceive the role of a manager should be. In conversations, it may seem as if these individuals have now arrived at a higher level. With title in hand, a case of amnesia relating to their earlier times sets in. This attitude reflects the very worst in management.

As suggested, I have known managers with no field experience who have, through their own initiative, developed an amazing sense of awareness relating to sales. Fundamentally, these individuals simply want to understand and develop their success on a level playing field with those who can insure their success and whom they consider their peers. These individuals gain high marks for their obvious willingness to learn, experience, and share their desire to develop this understanding.


Having emphasized the value to management in thinking like a rep, I equally believe that the current business climate now require a sales associate to think like a manager! The dynamics of a field sales person are those of independent, individually focused responsibilities. True, their vision is directed towards success. However, given the daily focus on their individual realities, it becomes tunnel vision directed at only one aspect of success: theirs.

In recent years, I have made it a priority in my hiring process to find sales people who also think like a manager. These are the individuals who have stepped out of the singular and often self sustaining perspective of the sales representative, and realized their greatest asset to themselves and their organizations is to assume a management role relating to their sales region.

Those “managing sales” understand and accept a personal responsibility for meeting the growth potential for their sales region. They are the first to know, and are proactive in their willingness to adjust to, the current and future needs of their sales region. They understand their position of strength comes prior to their manager’s inevitable involvement.

There can be huge rewards for individuals who accept this greater ownership. These individuals relate more closely with their managing counterparts. They speak the same language and have a greater understanding of each others needs; conversations reflect on mutual interests relating to “good business decisions,” for their customers as well as their manufacturer. These individuals find a high degree of support from their “fellow managers” relating to their needs and, in more instances than their peers, enjoy the luxury of the benefit of the doubt.


The old school suggested a “hands on” approach to management. If this is still the case in your organization, you are living in the past. Let’s be honest, most of the rules and parameters of past sales policies were established to meet the needs, yet minimize the risk, of the lowest common denominator. Do these out-dated sales policies still exist? Who are they currently intended to protect you from? Where’s the flex to make the deal?!

In the past ten years I have seen a remarkable improvement in the standards being established by the sales professional. With a much greater involvement of women in the professional field, the standards set by the highest common denominator of this combined work force far exceeds the pool of talent available just a few years ago. I genuinely believe we need to ask more, and these individuals want more to be asked of them. We can do so by first expecting them to manage their territories and then by giving them the opportunity to do so.


Allow me to describe your top five sales associates:

• Totally self motivated; you never give there sense of determination a second thought

• Creative and almost startling in their approach to a sales challenge

• Always thinking in terms of second and third generation relating to their long term objectives, while maintaining high visibility

• As professionals, they are always looking for, and intrigued by, finding a more productive way

• They enjoy a much stronger relationship with the decision makers in the field and with their manufacturer(s)

• Finally, these individuals challenge you as a manager, by a multiple of five, as compared to your other associates

Are these not the qualities of a great manager, in addition to those of a great sales person? Should we not be asking more of those who have not yet seen the value in thinking like a manager? Are we going to maintain standards that meet the needs of the bottom five at the risk of inhibiting our best?


The first step is to develop an awareness of the obvious disadvantage many sales associates are willing to accept. Why is it that so few get all the advantages? A manager of sales first challenges all the policies, then seizes every opportunity to work the system. From the outset, these individuals understand how to finesse a policy to their advantage within the rules (as best as possible). They have a consistent dialogue and ask all the right questions.

Managers reward creativity and respond to ingenuity, especially in an individual who thinks and plans like they do! While these individuals challenge management at a much higher level, they can’t help but be admired and respected for their efforts. In most instances, these individuals get exactly what they want. Those who never ask simply never enjoy the advantage. Who currently gets the advantage? Less than 20% of the whole! It must be time to spread the wealth.

Who are the most successful managers? Those who can relate with and think like a sales person.

Who are the most successful sales people? Those who can relate with and think like a manager.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. 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 Rewards, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »


Dear Manager,

We’ve all gotten caught up in the dynamics and ultra-fast pace of sales and marketing in the Twenty First Century! Productivity reigns as the single qualifier in separating the top achievers from the also-rans. As managers, we have established our individual barometers, commonly based only on numbers and multipliers. While this is one facet of the equation, have we lost the opportunity to establish a striking contrast, one with true definition and significance to our sales team and to our customers? Can there be balance to productivity? And how shall we quantify productivity?

So, how do we bring a greater relevance and a balanced approach to our own business, management, and selling careers? We can, and have, all lost our balance and objectivity on occasion, from the sheer impact of both real and self-imposed pressures and expectations. Don’t begin by throwing out the baby with the bath water! Instead, begin by using the clear and obvious strengths your business has enjoyed … then begin again, to take even greater advantage of these strengths.


We are thrust into the daily operations of our business. On any given day, this will include everything from decisions on recycling scrap paper to planning for future expansion in the hopes of doubling our annual sales. Which of these is significant, which of these has impact? I’m not sure this is a fair question, as they are both part of the entire package of our daily routine; our executive privilege, so to speak.

Certainly there are mundane areas in all aspects of business yet, as business owners, I believe we are all in search of a higher purpose. Purpose brings fulfillment, and we must begin and end each of our days with a solid dose of it. At this level, the less significant aspects of our days become a distraction rather than a disruption. We are fully aware of all priorities and their relative significance. We are single-minded in meeting our ultimate objective. Purpose is its own reward, for ultimately it is our greatest source of satisfaction.


When was the last time you were truly in touch with your staff? Certainly, we’d like to think we are in better touch, as managers, than any manager in this century. With e-mail, fax, pagers and cell phones, this is the age of communication. Or is it? Are we correct to assume that with greater technology, we can now assume even greater responsibilities, detaching ourselves even further from the day-to-day needs of our staff? For any manager, “business as usual” is the beginning of the end.

As managers, our tendency is to react to and fix the squeaky wheel. Problem areas, individuals with greater needs, and developmental areas of our business dominate much of our time. The 70% of our business that needs little attention, seems self-sustaining and is working very well, receives significantly less of our focus. Yet it is the 70% that holds all the keys to the company store. There is little to be learned from the 30% that dominates our productivity. All future potential lies in the hands of those who require the least.

Pick a staff member and focus on their objectives, performance and priorities. By speaking with them, at their level, you have the greatest opportunity to assist in mutual growth. You will learn much about your own business as well. Choose a new staff member each month, spending time and letting them know of their importance to you individually, and to the organization. What makes these individuals tick? What’s on their mind? How might their success be translated to the organization as a whole?

We would like to think we are in touch with our staff, but are we? I would be willing to bet we have all asked ourselves this question. Where do we begin? One individual at a time.


Orders per week, dollars per month, commissions in my account. This, too, is a trap that we, as business owners, managers and sales people, have all fostered. Once again, these are all critical aspects of why we are in business, and they will always need to be considered. Have we created the balance in our sales careers to allow time to create contrast to our day-to-day objectives? For example, when was the last time you made a well-conceived, formal presentation to one of your customers?

I would describe a formal presentation as one that is developed in written
form, reflects on the current business dynamics of your customers, and offers a proposal and justification for the needed expansion of products and services with this customer. All too often, and with the greatest of intentions, our presentations can be best characterized as an “oh, by the way” approach to sales rather than a formal presentation. Oh, by the way … this is very true of many of your competitors as well!

When was the last time your customer was called to a meeting to analyze their business? For this reason alone, you will be characterized as more professional, better prepared, and considered a valued asset for having made this effort. In other words, your thoughts and comments will be taken much more seriously than in the past. Your effort and preparation will place you far beyond those who simply go through the motions.

Your objective is to create a specific time in your schedule for evidence selling. As compared to item selling, evidence requires preparation. The key element here is that, similar to the lessons developed by a schoolteacher, once they are developed they can be adapted and adjusted to meet the needs of the class (or your sale) again and again. With each presentation, the process gets easier, and your presentation gets stronger. There is no one better in the preparation and selling of evidence than a very good schoolteacher. Think of it in these terms, and you are halfway there.

A quarterly or semi-annual review should be of highest priority for each of your significant accounts. Who knows your products better than you do, and their relative rate of sale in these specific accounts? Certainly, your customers don’t have the time or the ability to develop this analysis. They are working with hundreds of vendors. Plan this meeting and analysis on neutral ground, away from their place of business and yours.

From the outset, your customers should know of your plan to discuss their business. This will lead to an open discussion and a full disclosure of any thoughts or concerns your customer might have. Only on the rarest of occasions have I not left a meeting of this type with a much stronger relationship, and significant opportunity for growth, with this customer. At the very least, your customers will be impressed with the attention.

You say you don’t have the time? Yes, you do! What greater impact on your sales region could be made than by developing a well-conceived and focused presentation for your top ten accounts? Where do you find the time? If there is none available, then, without any second thoughts, diminish your influence with your bottom ten accounts. Your top ten accounts represent 50% or more of your volume, your bottom ten represents far less than 5%. Where is your time best spent?

The greatest complaint of all business owners, managers, and sales people is a simple lack of time. So, who is this “lack” guy who seems to have ownership over you? You can surely lay blame all day long, as long as it is pointed squarely at your own sense of priority and purpose.

We are in total control of our schedule, and are in absolute control of our success. In most cases, the need to adapt, the need to bring balance and greater relevance to our business career, is a minor adjustment; it’s a bump in the road. Do so, and find greatness. Fail to do so, and join the cast of millions.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL&#169: is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. 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