Friday, April 15, 2011

 

Should your sales managers still have a quota?

One of the reasons I think hiring a VP of Sales as your first sales hire is a bad idea is because he/she hasn't actively sold in quite awhile.

You're hiring them into a leadership position because they understand sales, and know how to manage sales organizations. But unless they intimately understand your customer - what they need, what their priorities are, what their pain points are - it's hard to truly help the sales team execute and improve their own sales processes and results.

I don't think it's efficient to have a VP-level sales executive have a quota. But sales managers? That might be more realistic. After all, they're on the front lines with your sales reps on a daily basis. While the VP of Sales is helping to lead and manage the organization, your sales managers are primarily responsible for helping their reps hit and exceed quota.

If they're doing it right, they're spending most of their time with the reps - on the floor, brainstorming deal strategy, working through obstacles and expanding/converting pipelines. Sometimes that means joining or leading calls with opportunities to help get them across the finish line.

Directly or indirectly, the best sales managers are already closing business.

So why not give them a direct quota? Doesn't have to be a big one. And it could certainly be related to deals they help their reps close (so you don't have to worry about them getting their own leads or spending too much time building their own pipeline).

There might not be a standard answer to this question for every organization. But sales managers who are responsible for directly closing business, and asked to perform against a quota, are by definition required to be closer to the customer, closer to the sale, and more attentive to real-time market changes that may help accelerate performance of the entire sales floor.

There's a difference between managing and doing. Your sales managers still need to do both.

What do you think? Are your sales managers doing this? Are you a sales manager doing this today?

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