August 6th, 2009
In the beginning, it was serious training. When I started in the tech sector many years ago, selling software/services/technology, I was lucky. The manufacturer that I worked had extended sales and product training resources, as well as active sales management that worked with small groups of salespeople. This was a sales-driven organization where you had to start fast, you could earn great money and you worked with sales professionals.
I was hired out of college along with a batch of other youthful people, and that meant we all had to learn how to sell, how to convince much older individuals of our expertise and learn our solutions — in fact, we actually installed and trained our clients on the solutions! The most critical lessons we learned were during our Sunday night sales management training.
Every Sunday night around 7:30 my sales manager would call me. I hated those calls, but I learned they had their purpose. Sunday evening was about being prepared for the week, my manager’s questions were always the same:
- What are you priorities for the week?
- What are we doing to close your opportunities this week?
- How many appointments do you have for the week?
- What can I do to help you this week?
What did his actions drive? The desired result! At 5 p.m., before our meeting I was already preparing for those questions and my head was into the week well before the 8 a.m. Monday meeting. My behavior changed when I realized that Friday afternoon was the real time to be prepared. One day an older, more experienced fellow salesperson and I discussed the Sunday night calls and he simply told me that he spent Friday afternoon “grading” his past week and planning his next week, if there were holes in his schedule. He told me that he felt better leaving the office with that job done and he enjoyed the weekend knowing his new week was already under control.
After more than 20 years in the same industry and working for myself, I still use this combination: Friday is spent with weekly evaluations and organization and Sunday evening I prepare to review. I make sure my to do list is prepared and my work projects and new business development plans are laid out.
During our sales management training programs I always discuss “Discipline, Accountability and Control” as important philosophical components of a high performing sales organization. I learned it early in my career.
Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations internationally. Ken also motivates organizations with enlightening keynotes