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Sales managers have to set the example

May 5, 2004
Filed under Archives

As a sales manager, you must always set an example of how you want your salespeople to look and behave.
When I give large seminars with as many as 300 people in a room, I can always pick out the managers. How? By the way they dress and the way they carry themselves. They look and act like professionals.
Your sales people will usually follow the example that you set. You’ve heard the saying, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” It is the truth as far as the “3 A’s” are concerned.
Appearance. Your appearance must always be professional. Let your grooming set the standard. You might even consider dressing slightly better than your sales staff.
Actions. Your actions must be consistent and above reproach. For example, you should always uphold the highest ethical standards. You should always be early to work. You should control your anger. You should never use profanity — especially around customers.
Attitude . You must always have a good attitude. This means you should always be upbeat. You should continually strive to motivate your sales staff. You can never have a bad day. You just can’t.
Stay out on the showroom floor and keep your people pumped up. When you work a deal, always say, “We are going to make this deal!” You have to be consistent. Because if you are not this “perfect person,” what do your salespeople have to strive for?
In addition to your appearance, action and attitude, you must be customer-oriented. I know a dealer who has a motto, “No unhappy customers, not even one.”
I said to him, “That’s unrealistic.”
He said, “What do you want me to say, only 90% of our customers are going to be happy? We have to say, ‘No unhappy customers, not even one. No bad days, not even one.’ That way we strive for 100%. Then our people will probably achieve in the 90% range because of the standards we’ve set.”

Attention to details
While we are at it, let’s add attention-to-details to the list of sales manager attributes. I was invited to the Indy 500. We went down Gasoline Alley very early one morning. It was 6 AM and who’s there before the drivers, before us, and probably before the sun came up? Roger Penske! We looked in his garage area and it was absolutely impeccable. You could eat off any corner of the floor. Unbelievable! And there Roger was fastidiously checking and double-checking everything.
This is a man with a multi-billion-dollar transportation empire. He takes over companies that aren’t performing as well as they could and he turns them around. How? One way is attention-to-detail. He strives to be perfect and so do those who work for him. It’s an attribute they acquired from him. His people may not reach perfection, but they reach a lot farther than their business competition. And now he puts that same philosophy to work for him at the racetrack. No wonder his teams win so much.

MOMENT OF TRUTH
I had the president of one manufacturer explain something to me that best summarizes all the responsibilities of the sales manager. He drew a simple illustration… a big X. He said, “Look over here. On the left-hand side is the manufacturer. They have the research and development. They design, test and manufacture the unit. They do the national advertising. They bring all these resources together on this side.
“Now on the right of this X are the dealers. They build beautiful facilities. They stock their inventory. They get managers and employees to staff the facility.
“All these resources on the left side and all these resources on the right side were brought together for one thing — for a salesperson to meet and greet a customer one on one.
“Isn’t that amazing? Millions and millions of dollars are paid out on both sides, so that in one moment of truth a salesperson can meet a customer. That is how we make our living.”
Your job is to manage this most critical point. Think about it! All this happens just for that face-to-face meeting. You control what kind of skills and attitude that salesperson carries to that meeting.

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