Bob is one of your Sales Managers. When I ask you to tell me what you think about Bob as an employee, what will you say?
I’ve been to more than 100 client sites over the years and have asked this question of as many VP’s of Sales. The typical answer is, “I like Bob”. Why? Because “Bob has been here a long time, knows the company and the culture and is a hard worker. He is also very responsive to my needs and never misses a reporting deadline.” So this is how you assess the competence of your managers…by gut feeling?
I say “nay, nay”. There’s a much better way and it’s Q&A! There are 5 critical areas which when rated on a scale of 1 to 5, will give you a realistic assessment of Bob.
Q: How is Bob performing? Does he consistently overachieve?
A: “Bob usually makes his numbers although with the economy lately and a Tsunami in Japan, he’s struggling. He’s also lost 3 of his best reps because we don’t pay enough.”
Q: Does Bob have a written plan to achieve goals?
A: “Things change so much around here that writing up a plan is useless.”
Q: Is Bob viewed as an inspirational and motivational leader? Does his staff respect him?
A: “The staff that is left really like Bob. They think he’s a great guy to work for. Those who didn’t think he was a fair manager have already left the company.”
Q: Does Bob coach and mentor his staff? Has he developed some to the point that they can take over when Bob gets a promotion?
A: “Bob’s way too busy for this. He provides whatever training the company offers, but he’s got to make sure he gets to the number.”
Q: Has Bob been able to anticipate attrition and recruit satisfactory replacements?
A: “That’s really not his job. We have an in-house recruiter who handles that. When they find a suitable candidate, Bob will set up interviews. And besides, we don’t pay enough to attract great talent.”
So, if Bob works for you and these answers ring true, it’s time to make some changes. Knowing and understanding your managers from an objective point of view is critical. Start by setting up criteria for each of these questions and rate your managers against them. If you don’t think you can be 100% objective, get some help. Create internal relationships with other managers or go to outside consultants who are objective by default. The worst thing you can do for your organization as well as the managers themselves is to allow emotions to get in the way of an objective evaluation. The primary function of your Sales Manager is to “lead, coach and mentor”! Help them, your company and yourself by ensuring objectivity in your evaluation process.