Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management, Book Review
In Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization, John Treace mines decades of sales officer experience effecting business turnarounds of near-bankrupt companies to position them for being publicly traded. These ventures produced a ten-times return for initial investors at three years after going public. Time and again, Treace noticed the same sales and corporate management missteps that led to poor performance in failing companies. In Treace’s book, these all-too-common errors are described along with practical, proven solutions to help sales executives and non-sales executives evaluate and cooperatively support the company’s sales efforts. This practical information is what you didn’t learn in business school.
Below are a few of the topics covered in the book, each of which will provide readers with a strong foundation for understanding how to build an outstanding sales operation—whether they are a CEO, CFO, COO, sales manager, or sales rep wishing to move into management.
Many managers think a sales meeting has been a success if the sales team leaves full of enthusiasm. While enthusiasm is good, the end goal of any sales meeting is to produce more sales, period. One of the best techniques for ensuring a successful sales meeting is the use of a statement of strategic intent. This statement defines what needs to be accomplished in the meeting to produce sales and identifies the time sensitive metrics that will be used to measure the meeting’s success. This management tool is useful for sales and non-sales officers and helps them ensure that corporate resources are not wasted. It also forces management to understand the business at a deep level. Sales meetings without identified metrics cannot ensure success, and managers who can’t establish these metrics do not fully understand the business. Readers will gain a deeper insight into what it takes to have powerful sales meetings, avoid common pitfalls, and guarantee results.
Managing the Quarter
Most companies place the burden of making the quarter’s sales numbers completely on the sales team. While this is the responsibility of sales management, “managing the quarter”—knowing what levers to pull to meet your sales forecast—is a corporate-wide effort with the biggest and best companies. The book describes the techniques and processes that will help executives manage the quarter so that all officers in a company sleep well at night—even toward the end of a difficult quarter.
Morale, Execution, and Teamwork
What’s more important, the sales team’s morale or its ability to execute? They tend to go hand in hand: a high-morale team will always defeat a low-morale team—even one three times its size. Just as important, a team with high morale will produce when the going gets tough, and sooner or later it will get tough for most every company.
Execution can be taught; morale cannot. Morale—like reputation—takes time to develop and is easily lost. Sales managers must codify and implement practices that create morale and keep it high while avoiding practices that destroy it. For example, some award programs that are designed to inspire and motivate can easily have the reverse effect and destroy morale. Readers will gain a true understanding of reward systems that will allow any executive to quickly evaluate a company’s recognition program and differentiate between the good and the bad.
Practices to Avoid
John Treace’s book also covers six all-too-common practices that reduce corporate sales and profits. For example, requiring reps to spend time on non-sales activities is recognized as unproductive by most sales executives, but many non-sales executives don’t see a problem with it. John Treace describes the damage non-sales tasks can have on sales teams and the advantages of avoiding them. If management could free up just 10 percent of the sales reps’ time by removing a non-sales activity, they would in effect increase the number of feet on the ground by 10 percent at no additional cost, with no new reps to train. This is a good example of how sales executives need to help non-sales management understand the sales team’s difficulties, which are often generated by non-sales corporate policy.
One of the sales management’s most important jobs is developing a sales forecasting system that is accurate and consistent. This is easier said than done; many sales managers become frustrated that they’re not meeting their numbers even after significant preparation. Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management shows executives how they can gain a thorough understanding of practical forecasting techniques and how they can manage shortfalls.