Success Equation of Sales Management

Success Equation of Sales Management
by Frank Lee

Who’s To Blame?

When sales production slumps, sales people as well as their managers tend to blame each other and outside influences.

Sales managers blame the sales person’s lack of skill and training forgetting that it is the responsibility of the sales manager to provide the proper training. Or they question the motivation of their sales people using such exotic terms as lack of ‘inner motivation’. They wonder if a motivational workshop will recharge their sales people.

Sales people tend to blame the manager for the lack of training, guidance, coaching or that all-encompassing word, leadership. They forget that they are responsible for their own education and advancement. While on the one hand claiming that they are really in business for themselves, on the other hand they default accountability for their businesses to their managers.

Both blame the economy forgetting that somewhere, someone is buying something they sell today. They are just not buying from them. They also forget that they alone have the power to sell themselves out of a slump.

Finger pointing can be very demoralizing in a sales organization. It creates lethargy. It amplifies missing skills. It provides no real solutions.

4 Basic Reasons

There are 4 basic reasons why most sales people fail to sell as well as they should:

  • Lack of skills and/or experience
  • Fears about the selling process or initiating contacts
  • Lack of the correct successful behaviors
  • Lack of, or misguided, expectations of what is really expected of them.

If a company can remedy these, more than 90% of their selling woes will be behind them.

Misguided Expectations

Let us look at number four – lack of, or misguided expectations. Most sales people would like to please their sales managers – if only they knew what would please them! Sales managers often send incorrect or conflicting messages about what they expect from their sales people. Sometimes the expectations have simply never been communicated.

This is the fault of the sales manager not the sales person. Whenever sales people in a company do not perform up to the standards expected of them, the first place to look is the sales manager. When the vice president of sales becomes over protective of the sales managers while decrying the efforts of the sales people, there is something seriously wrong in the organization.

Formula For Success In Sales Management

There is a formula for success in sales management that is represented by something we call the ‘success equation’ of sales management.

It is not as difficult as it may appear. However, it does require commitment and caring on the part of the sales manager. This is the first part of the equation. Why commitment and caring? Because developing a sales team means developing people and one cannot effectively develop people if one does not even care about them. Developing a sales team to be proud of requires time and effort. That spells commitment. Commitment is what gives life to caring. If a sales manager is committed and caring, the rest makes sense.

Sales Philosophy

The second part of the ‘success equation’ of sales management is to know your sales philosophy. Before you can communicate your sales philosophy , you must first know what it is. Time spent developing it is time well spent. Your sales philosophy should be your guide. It will help you develop the proper expectations from your sales people. You should have financial as well as behavioral expectations of sales people that will move you closer to your company goals. You should be able to articulate this philosophy clearly and succinctly.

Be Assertive!

The third part of the ‘success equation’ of sales management is a consistently assertive management style. This does not mean hard-nosed or aggressive. It means letting your sales people know at all times where you stand on issues and where they stand with you. It means managing them fairly and consistently. It means understanding your sales people without compromising your beliefs or principles. It means doing the things leaders are expected to do.

Communicate Your Expectations

The fourth part of the ‘success equation’ of sales management is proper communication. This means communicating your expectations in very clear terms. Sales people should know what their sales managers expect from them. This does not simply mean quotas. It also means what selling behaviors are expected and how many of each. Sales managers sometimes forget that they are communicating and teaching all the time. Sometimes they communicate the wrong messages and sometimes they teach the wrong things. You can avoid this by developing the third part of the equation. Assertive management also means communicating the right messages, teaching the right things – consistently.

For example, if you observe one of your sales people doing something wrong one day and you fail to do something about it, you have just taught the sales person that it was okay. Even worse is when you berate the sales person for it one day and on another occasion you close your eyes to it. That’s when sales people ascribe to sales managers a management style called ‘bad hair day management’. Sending conflicting messages like this causes uncertainty in sales people that is not beneficial.


The final constant in the ‘success equation’ of sales management is management skills and abilities. Managers need to constantly and consistently be upgrading their own skill levels and leadership abilities.

Here then is the ‘success equation’ of sales management:


If you have all of the parts of the ‘success equation’ of sales management, you will also have a sales force that is constantly and consistently:

  • Driving your competitors crazy
  • Improving their own skills and abilities
  • Providing exceptional service to your customers