Glengarry and Sales Management

I love the movie Glengarry, Glen Ross! It is a great movie with many sales truths but it is also an example of the very worst kind of sales management!

As a sales recruiter, trainer and consultant there is an interesting process that I see played out time and time again between salespeople and sales managers.

Salespeople are critical to business success, however, the vast majority of businesses, hoping to grow, simply miss this point altogether!

Here are a few scenarios that regularly drive business sales failure:

Expecting too much!

For a small business hiring salespeople, especially the first salesperson, is a challenging task. Many managers, even those with selling experience, somehow believe that a salesperson is some kind of Alchemist who can magically make sales appear without investing in a sales process or in marketing.

It is true that the very best salespeople – Rainmakers – can simply pick up the telephone and get the business but these people are rare. The average competent salesperson requires a system to support their efforts and a telephone book and a telephone is not a system!

Great companies thrive because they have invested heavily in brand, sales process, lead generation and sales & product training. On top of this they have recruited the smartest, most experienced salespeople available. This is why they succeed! Most successful salespeople are successful because they work for great companies. In Formula One Racing the driver is surrounded by great people and great technology – the driver crosses the finish line but the team is the winner!

Killing the goose that lays the golden egg!

It is amazing to me but I have seen the following scenario happen hundreds of times. A small company hires a competent, experienced salesperson. A contract is negotiated and the salesperson gets to work building a territory. Within a year or so the salesperson has far exceeded every expectation and the company is making big commission payments every month. Pretty soon some resentment starts to build. The sales manager or even the business owner begins to feel that they have been taken advantage of and that somehow this salesperson is lucky and is over paid. Even though the situation is profitable for the business.

Then begins of process of finding fault and creating drama to manufacture a reason to fire the salesperson. Everyday companies fire great salespeople! I have sat in the offices of many company owners and been told that a salesperson is earning too much and needs to be replaced. A winner is fired and replaced with a mediocre performer all to protect an ego or two.

Expecting the salesperson to invest in your business!

Every week I speak to sales managers and business owners who want to hire salespeople on either a straight commission basis or a very low basic salary. They wonder why they only attract the poorest salespeople or no salespeople at all. They feel that they are providing an opportunity and that if a salesperson is any good that they should be able to make a good living. Seriously? Talent, all talent will find its highest reward. If your business is not prepared to pay the going rate then go home because you’re wasting your time!

Abuse is not management!

So a sales manager watches the movie ‘Glengarry, Glen Ross’ and decides that what salespeople really need is fear and a kick in the backside to perform. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Telling a salesperson they will be fired if they don’t perform may get you a week or two of performance but basic child psychology will tell you it doesn’t really work. In fear, the salesperson goes home and begins the job search. The best companies don’t churn through salespeople because they coach and support success rather than focusing on and abusing failures.

People actually are an asset!

It is your people who make your business work and all assets require investment. With people, that investment is training and supports. Great companies are constantly training sales teams to be more knowledgeable and more competent – to sell more effectively. Mediocre companies expect salespeople to arrive ‘pre-trained’ and ready to deliver results.

The vast majority of mediocre companies with mediocre sales teams, hires poorly, manage poorly, fail to reward success, and are constantly surprised at the results!