“They’re Shooting At Me!”

Gregory LaMothe

Today’s Fable Friday is based on a passage in Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” When Ronald Reagan succeeded Edmund G. Brown as governor of California in 1967, Brown told him:

“There is a passage in ‘War and Peace’ that every new governor with a big majority should tack on his office wall. In it Count Rostov, after weeks as the toast of elegant farewell parties, gallops off on his first cavalry charge and finds real bullets snapping at his ears.  ‘Can it be that they’re trying to kill me?  Me, whom everyone loves so much.’”

Maybe you’re a fairly new sales manager, or you remember a time when you were promoted to a coveted management position.  There’s a party for you, your colleagues slap you on the back and tell you they’re happy for you.  Your boss tells you you’re going to do a magnificent job. Your new team tells you they’re looking forward to working for you.

Then you’re actually doing the job and that’s when the fun starts.  All those people who were popping champagne corks are all of a sudden firing real bullets at you.  “What happened to those first quarter results you promised?”  “Why are sales down?”  “I can’t get in to see this guy.”  “They said they won’t be ordering anything til the end of the year because their sales are down.”

The way to get everyone going in the same direction is to start off with a team meeting in which you charge others with the ownership of the group’s plan, after they develop it themselves. 

Let’s start with an easy routine:  how many calls a sales rep should make in a given month or year.  Call frequency is just one of the many “touchy” areas the sales manager faces, so start with these questions:  “How many customers in your book?  How many of these are your “A” customers?  How many times a year should you call on an “A” customer?  Multiply and tell me how many calls you should make in a year to your “A” customers.” 

Okay, you’re done with that one. Now do the same process with how many customers the team members have identified for up-sell or for retention, how many prospects they need to call on to get one new customer and so on.  Let them do the math and commit to the total number of calls in each area they should make.  And like the parable about the fish and loaves, they will come back with an aggressive plan, one they believe will help them achieve their goals.  Once this is done, all you have to do is observe, joint-call and coach.  They’ll do the rest.

But go ahead and push activity goals down their throats, and the bullets will start flying, not just from them, but from those above you.  Keep in mind that your sales team needs to be treated like a customer group too, and they will help you succeed when you…

Think Like Your Customer!

Note:  In my upcoming May newsletter I’m going back to the popular theme from April’s newsletter about coaching tips and techniques, based on the great feedback I received from “How Good a Coach Are You?”  If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, go to my website www.actionsystemstraining.com and click on the newsletter logo in the top right corner.  (It’s a cool-looking “N”. Mouse over it, then click and follow the instructions.)  I’ll make sure you get the May issue.  Thank you.


About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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