Jason Jordan is a partner of Vantage Point Performance
, the leading sales management training and development firm. He is a recognized thought leader in the domain of business-to-business selling and conducts ongoing research into management best practices in hiring, developing, measuring, and managing world-class sales organizations. Jason’s extensive research into sales performance metrics led to the breakthrough insights published in his first book, Cracking The Sales Management Code
Let’s begin with the most common mistakes a typical sales manager makes. Is there a way to avoid them?
JJ: THE most common mistake sales managers make is allowing themselves to become reactive rather than proactive. The most obvious example is a manager who tells a seller to “Let me know if you encounter any problems.” And the salesperson will… Every single time they have the smallest problem. Sales managers then become professional firefighters, which ultimately benefits neither themselves nor their sellers.
Sales managers are also masters of ‘the urgent over the important.’ They get bombarded with inbound voice mails, e-mails, and texts… And they respond to them all. They first create reports and forecasts for their bosses, and THEN they coach and mentor their reps… If they get around to it.
I could go on forever, but the point is this: Sales managers need to take control of their lives and attend the things that they know are important. Every sales manager should answer the following question: “If I had 2 more hours in the week, what would I do with that time?” Then make that the first thing you do every Monday morning.
Everyone wants to win, but not everyone succeeds. What qualities make the best closers stand out?
JJ: There is no secret to being a successful salesperson… You just need to make it easy for your prospects to buy from you. That means understanding your prospect’s buying needs, presenting them with the information they need to make a favourable decision, and then keeping every barrier to a purchase out of their way.
It sounds easy, but it’s not. Sellers fail to qualify their prospects adequately, they make assumptions about what their prospects want, they provide generic information, they ignore obvious objections – the list of infractions goes on and on. If you look at what unsuccessful sellers do, you’ll find that THEY are their own biggest enemies – not their prospects, their products, or even their competitors.
Keep it simple and be responsive to your buyer. Then you’ll find yourself in the winner’s circle more often than not.
A digital world offers various channels for sales agents to reach their customers. What is the best way to increase online sales?
JJ: We really don’t work with online sales forces, so I’m probably not the best person to answer this. But I suspect the formula for online success is not different from face-to-face success. Understand the buying process, and mirror it with an easy-to-follow sales process. Meet the buyer’s needs better than your competition, and you will win the sale.
Your book “Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance” is said to help sales forces maximize the usefulness of CRM. Can you share some tips with our readers?
JJ: CRM is everywhere, and it has been for decades. Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not been a very powerful force in elevating sales performance. It gathers a lot of data and generates a lot of reports. That’s it. What we DO with that information is the true determinant of how powerful CRM will be.
Our recommendation is to understand what your sales force needs to DO to succeed – both your salespeople and your managers. In other words, focus on the business side of your business first. THEN support that activity with data for intelligent decision-making. When technology like CRM supports good selling and management, it can elevate performance amazingly. But when CRM is its own strategy for success, it’s a sure-fire formula for failure.
Let’s speak about the importance of teamwork in sales. What can a modern sales team leader do to band his sellers together?
JJ: There is no better way to improve teamwork than actually work as a team. And I don’t mean off-site team building exercises – I mean actually working as a team. Team planning sessions, team pipeline reviews, team forecasting session, team best practice sharing – even team coaching session.
We live in this ‘connected’ world where communication technology is prevalent. However, I find that many salespeople and managers feel lonely. Social media, e-mail, and texting enable frequent, low-quality interactions. What teams need is high-quality interactions – even if they come infrequently. Meet as a team, think as a team, plan as a team, and work as a team. Then you’ll succeed like a team.
What resources, books, blogs, podcasts can you recommend to our readers who'd like to learn more about a career in sales?
JJ: The list of great books is vast, but I’ve been heavily influenced by Neil Rackham
’s work. SPIN Selling
and Major Account Sales Strategy
for sellers, and Managing Major Sales
for managers. I’ve been told that our book is useful for both managers and sellers since its concepts are so foundational, but it is clearly targeted at the sales management population. For those exploring a career in sales, I’d encourage you to check out the Sales Education Foundation
to learn more about university programs and other formal education that’s available globally.
Thank you for the interview.