Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Sales Managers, Start with the End in Mind

Tags: success formula, sales management, motivating salespeople

In his ground breaking book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey states that highly successful people start with where they want to be – “the end” - and then work to get there. That’s great advice for managers attempting to lead for results, manage activity and coach behaviors.

In a Sales Managed Environment®, a sales manager - in order to get the most out of their team - must execute two critical functions:

  • Performance management
  • Coaching

Both of these are contingent on knowing where your individual salespeople want to end up. What is it that is important to them? What is their motivation to do what they have to do to succeed in selling? Knowing that information and using that information to build a solid sales success plan is critical. In addition, gaining personal commitment to achieve personal goals is the only way to improve the probability of professional sales success.

I recall having a discussion with a COO of a large insurance holding company. He was about to address one of the agencies the following day and, as we were eating dinner, he was sharing with me his message. Most of the message was about the company growth and the importance of shareholder value. As gently as I could, I reminded him that the group he was addressing the next day didn't really care about shareholder value. They were more interested in making college payments, getting out of debt and building the cabin on the lake.

And so it is with your salespeople. Unfortunately, you can count on at least 75% of your people failing in the area of setting goals and having a solid goal achievement plan.


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The information in this chart comes from the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis produced by Objective Management Group – the world leader in sales team evaluations. In a group of 50 salespeople, you can see that 77% of them do not have written goals or a goal management plan.

What does this have to do with a sales manager and starting with the end in mind, you ask? Everything.

  • The people that you have today who are performing in the middle of the bell curve or the wrong end of the 80/20 power curve:  Did you hire them that way or make them that way?
  • Those salespeople who seem to have gotten stuck at a certain level of performance - could it be that they just stopped thinking bigger or are comfortable?
  • Why is it a struggle to keep your sales team motivated?
  • With changes in comp plans and implementation of incentives, why isn’t there more movement toward improvement in results?
  • Why do you find yourself always talking about the same people who don’t seem to be “lifting their weight”?

All of these questions are tied to motivation or the lack of motivation. And that starts with management. If you don’t hire motivated people, you cannot make them that way. And… even the most motivated people need a “shot in the arm” once in a while. Starting with the end in mind, your job/task/responsibility is to create an environment where your people have the opportunity to dream the big dream and have a plan of achievement.

So, start today with these resources: