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The one tool I missed the most when I was a sales manager

Since I started working at Prima Resource, I have had the opportunity to greatly improve my knowledge and skills in sales management. This has helped me discover certain aspects that I wish I knew when I was a sales manager and that would have completely changed the way I made some decisions in this role.

Among all that I learned, there is one fundamental element that really caught my attention and that definitely would have made all the difference: the importance of using specific evaluation tools for sales, such as Objective Management Group’s evaluations. These tools make a huge difference in coaching salespeople and they would have made me a much better sales manager than I was.

How can sales evaluations help you succeed as a sales manager?

1. Putting the right people in the right sales positions

In my role as Sales Manager, I often felt that some individuals on my team were “sitting in the wrong seat on the bus”. The problem was that I had absolutely nothing to objectively justify and support this impression. So I moved some individuals and fired others based on poor performance and the feeling that I had tried everything I could before making these decisions.

If you’re a manager or sales leader, I’m sure you’ve been through this situation before. You may even be questioning some of your team members right now and you are trying to make the best decision for both the company and the individuals.

If, like me, you base your decisions on your observations and instincts, you will understand that this is not the optimal way to manage a sales team. Maybe you will make good decisions, but the odds are that, like me, you make bad ones, because you are missing objective information with a scientific ground.

In my sales team, I had a sales rep who couldn’t prospect. For years, the phone would ring and he could close sales easily afterwards. He would win a lot of sales, but always by making concessions. For the company and for my team, this person represented a risk, so I relocated him to another department. It was by no means a sales manager power trip, but it was the best solution I had at the time to get back to profitability in sales.

If, at that time, my sales rep had been assessed by the OMG sales evaluation, I would have known exactly what his strengths were and what skill gaps needed to be filled. Maybe the representative had the necessary commitment to accept to be coached and in that case, I could have kept him on the team, or I could have allowed him to better experience his redeployment by supporting him with a development plan.

2. Improving the quality of the team through better hires

You should use sales-specific tests as part of your recruitment process. Personally, I have often recruited representatives based simply on my intuition, on their performance during interviews, on their DISC profile (or other psychometric tests not specific to sales) or on their experience in the specialized field in which I evolved. So I didn’t have a scientific evaluation to help me make the best hiring decisions.

As a result, the salespeople I hired did not all perform up to my expectations. To give you an idea, about 50% of the salespeople I hired didn’t perform, so those hires ended in terminations. The problem is that firing 50% of the people you hire costs a company a lot of money. You can do the math here and you may be surprised by the real cost of one bad hire in sales. When I did the calculation, even with several years of hindsight, I was in a cold sweat!

3. Coaching salespeople to improve their level of performance

In relation to my experiences in recruiting sales representatives, I was confronted with the difficulty of coaching successful salespeople. Not because I didn’t perform my role properly or because I didn’t know how to coach a sales team, but rather because I was approaching sales coaching without a method and without a proper tool to help me understand what parts of the sales DNA were blocking my reps. I was asking questions, once again, relying mainly on my intuition, without really knowing where I was going with all of this.

That’s why a good sales evaluation tool can play a major role in your coaching sessions, because it will objectively identify the elements of sales DNA, the will to succeed and the sales skills on which each representative has the opportunities to develop. The individual evaluation allows you to better orient and guide your coaching sessions for better results and to avoid repeating mistakes.

Use your intuition differently in your decisions

Throughout this article, you’ve probably realized that I relied a lot on my instincts when I was a sales manager. I know very well that many managers do like me and also rely on their intuition, and that’s not a bad thing.

I want you to realize that intuition brings its share of cognitive biases, because it is based on real-life experiences and not on objective data. Intuition is not a measurable or tangible science.

This is why I believe that intuition should only be a small part of your decision-making process. Instead, prioritize tools such as sales evaluations that will give you results that are more representative of reality and that are not biased. For example, in recruitment, you should start your process by screening your candidates with a pre-employment assessment that gives you a recommendation for each candidate in terms of the role. This will help you select only the best candidates and those who are most suitable for the position being promoted. You should only use your intuition at the end of the process with finalist candidates who have gone through the other phases. See the detailed article on the recruitment process for sales roles.


Key Take-Aways

If you are looking to succeed as a sales manager and want to make more appropriate and justified decisions, equip yourself with the tools that provide the highest level of detail and predictability.

Your role as a sales manager is absolutely critical to your business, and I believe that the more you are able to make decisions based on objective data, the better you can contribute to your team’s and the company’s performance.

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