From Doer to Manager

Our shop guy needs help. His hands are on the machines because he doesn’t have the right people working for him. He doesn’t give out enough warnings, says he doesn’t have time to look for people to hire. He’d rather do the work than step back and manage. What should we do?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Managers are made, not born. You will have to help your shop guy make time to step back and assess. Recruiting is a specialized skill. Find someone in the shop who can be a great second in command.

Continue reading “From Doer to Manager”


Lessons from millennials about work-life balance


Millennials are very guarded about their time, but we need flexibility. Any suggestions?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Remember when you had a life, before you got totally wrapped up the in the business? Make agreements with your employees about what is acceptable. Staff your business to allow flexibility and recovery ability. Happy employees and a good work environment mean productivity and profits.

Continue reading “Lessons from millennials about work-life balance”


Hire for Passion Instead of the Task

Thoughts of the day: When searching for new hires, lead with what your business is all about. Find job candidates who are already passionate about what your company does. Stop looking for last-minute job fillers. Make sure that current employees are good role models and start new hires on the right foot.

Thoughts of the day: When looking for new hires, advertise your company as well as the position. Make what your company does stand out. Look for people who want to talk to you about that. Be aware that people who come in looking for a job are different from people who are on a mission to apply themselves to specific kinds of work and market needs…

Continue reading “Hire for Passion Instead of the Task”


Hiring and Managing Millennials

I’m getting a lot of applications from millennials, but it seems like millennials are just looking for the next best thing and are not willing to work as hard as generations before. Is it just bad stereotypes? How do I manage their expectations and mine, and use them to move the company forward?

Thoughts of the Day: Raised to be the best inside a protective bubble, millennials may need help to succeed. Harness the enthusiasm of youth, marry it with the wisdom that comes from experience, and you’ll have a winning combination. Stop generalizing. Know that millennials want to buy in. Learn to harness a millennial and maybe one day they’ll help to run your company.

Continue reading “Hiring and Managing Millennials”


Is it Time to Hire More Sales People?

I don’t know if I have enough salespeople. Our organization is growing, and I want it to keep growing. We’re starting to plan for next year and the year after that. How do we figure out how many salespeople we will need to hit our goals?

Thoughts of the day: One answer is this: You can never have enough sales, so you can never have enough salespeople.

Look at historical patterns to establish realistic goals. Consider ways to boost productivity of salespeople. Make sure costs are in line. Plan well in advance as it takes time for salespeople to mature.

Just because your sales team hit plan last year doesn’t mean it will hit plan again this year. Things happen, things that would have been difficult to foresee or impossible to predict.

Growing the sales force in advance of the need for growth in revenue is a smart idea. There are few things that a company can invest in that can guarantee future profits. Done right, a sales force is one of them.

Look at data from previous years to figure out smart expectations for an average salesperson. Look at the growth track, washout rate and range of production from low, high and median performers. Consider both revenue and gross profit contribution.

Decide who and what you want to use for a success model — not too big or too small. Look at the bulk of your salespeople for examples of realistic expectations. Evaluate high- and low-volume producers in terms of variety of customers, profitability and ability to expand a portfolio and retain existing business.

Match what salespeople have typically accomplished in relation to company objectives one to three years down the road. How many salespeople are maxed out or declining? How many have realistic growth potential? Are there any with the ability and opportunity to become super producers? Could moving a person from one territory to another increase the ability to contribute?

Before adding to the sales organization, take a look at what’s behind it. How much work do salespeople do that has nothing to do with sales: order entry, research on the territory, follow-up to ensure orders go out on time, gathering information on competitive threats and how to position — all things that a great salesperson will make time to do. But think how much more productive your salespeople would be if they didn’t have to do all that. Consider beefing up customer service, assigning account assistants or adding marketing resources to do nonsales legwork for your salespeople.

If some people are approaching retirement, offer to hire a junior person to help. In return, have them train the new people on best practices. Eventually customers will have to transition from one salesperson to another. Wouldn’t it be great if the account person who’s been backing up their primary salesperson takes over when the primary retires?

Think about boosting training and recruiting resources. If you can hire better and reduce turnover, you’ll be better able to focus resources on the most productive people. As you get ready to add more salespeople, make sure that you have the right cost-payoff ratio. Commission plans should be calculated on gross profit, not on revenue. Tie incentives to activities that lead to maximum sales growth. Extra commissions should drive more sales, and if they don’t, they should be eliminated.

Get your sales compensation plan right for the new salespeople. Rather than continuing the way things have always been, make adjustments before expanding. Even if it means you have two tiers of compensation, get the plan right going forward with the new people.

Get a realistic picture of how long it takes for your typical salesperson to mature. Don’t plan on replacing someone in less than a year if it takes several years for a salesperson to come up to full speed. Plan conservatively by building a farm team for sales. Bring people on in customer service and give them an opportunity to compete for openings in sales.

The bottom line — build your sales organization every year. Whether you’re thinking about bringing on your first salesperson or evaluating how to grow a nationwide team, it’s always worthwhile to build for growth.

Looking for a good book? Try “The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 million” by Mark Roberge