March 01, 2009

Sales Success - the cost of bad leadership

A good leader can transform ordinary sales people into champions; a bad one will hold everybody back.

Job related performance and satisfaction  (we sometimes forget that the two are inextricably linked) depends more on the quality of the manager than almost anything else.

Leadership, empowerment, coaching and motivation are not soft stuff, they have the potential to boost the performance of individuals and teams by as much as one third.

A major office supplies company had long suffered from poor leadership at the top and a culture organization-wide of:
• Excessive bureaucracy
• Poor communication
• Limited innovation
• A culture of blame
• Poor teamwork

There was confusion about the lines of communication, with sales people going over the head of the sales director and to have decisions reversed by the CEO. Levels of trust were low owing to u-turns on previous commitments made by management regarding commission payments.

There was no documented sales plan, no mechanisms to review performance and no written job descriptions, or contracts of employment. Sales meetings were both irregular and Ineffective.

How to calculate the cost? Well, the company was hemorrhaging customers and sales at a rate of up to 15% annually.

The series of changes culminated in each sales person developing and agreeing their own individual sales plan. The results were important, however when the manager was moved aside the performance of the team soared to new levels.

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