Strong Sales Require Hiring a Strong Sales Manager
Most profitable companies invest in the very best sales managerd they can recruit, give them the tools — including all staffing decisions — to be effective and hold them accountable for quantifiable results.
Unfortunately, many in our industry don’t focus on objectively hiring sales managers. In many cases, when a change is needed, they decide to “promote” their highest-producing salesperson to the sales manager position — often with mediocre and sometimes disastrous results.
Selling and Sales Management — Two Entirely Different Disciplines
Managing a high-energy, highly productive sales staff is a bit like herding cats because the best of the best salespeople are always, by nature, slightly out of control.
Effective sales professionals do not accept defeat, especially in today’s market. They do all the right things to match a buyer to your product. They are committed to delivering concierge-level service to every buyer. As a result, you have a happy customer for life and they receive high numbers of referrals, which helps trim your marketing costs.
Managing these professionals in today’s tough market should not involve threats or intimidation, which can occur when pressures mount. Rather, sales managers should be constantly teaching their salespeople what to do, showing them how to do it and then holding them accountable for results.
Some very successful sales managers have likened managing their sales staff to “adult babysitting.”
How to Find the Best Sales Managers
As with any executive-level position, timing is a key factor in successfully recruiting exceptional people.
When beginning your search, be aware of whose sales managers have the greatest respect from their salespeople in your market and don’t overlook excellent candidates from other industries. Their experiences may bring a fresh perspective and innovation to your company.
To begin your recruiting activity, first post your opening on NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Council’s ProNet Job Board, which serves sales managers who have professional designations such as MIRM (Member, Institute of Residential Marketing) and CMP (Certified Marketing Professional) and who, in most cases, have completed CSP (Certified Professional Salesperson) training.
Hiring designation holders is similar to buying insurance against failure. They have had many hours of specialized training in sales management and understand the importance of working with the marketing department to drive qualified traffic to the sales office where buyers will be met by a highly-trained professional salesperson.
Also, don’t worry about keeping your search discreet because you fear losing your sales manager before you find a replacement. You are searching for a replacement because your current sales manager is ineffective. Keeping him or her in place may do your company more harm than good.
By now, your salespeople probably don’t like or don’t respond to your current sales manager’s style of management. They might even be wondering why you haven’t taken any action, yet. So why delay the inevitable?
Terminate your ineffective sales manager and then call your salespeople together, tell them how important they are, how much you appreciate the good job they are doing and let them know you are seeking a sales manager who will provide them with the backup and tools they need to sell homes.
Let them know that you are posting the job to give them the opportunity to interview for it, but be sure to tell them that they will be evaluated using the same criteria as any outside candidate.
Posting the job description in-house first also gives all employees the opportunity to recommend any person they feel would be a good candidate. Your employees are familiar with your company’s culture and will not knowingly recommend anyone who would not integrate easily with your other employees.
If one of their candidates is brought on board, give the referring employee a bonus after the new hire successfully completes his or her 90-day probation period.
After you have publicized the opportunity internally, let your trade partners know of the job posting. One way to do this is with a payment insert asking for their assistance in identifying potential candidates. Not only does it spread the word, the insert serves as a reminder to them that the more homes you sell, the more of their products and services you will be purchasing.
Next, tell your home owners about the open position. Who better than a home owner to help you locate potential candidates? Consider offering a gift certificate to a hardware store to any home owner who recommends the candidate that is ultimately hired.
Don’t forget to turn to the “big guns” — your Realtors® — for spreading the word and networking. Professional real estate agents are the backbone of our industry. They produce more than half of new home sales and are master mass networkers. Offer them an incentive if their candidate is subsequently hired.
Finally, remember to utilize social and business networking sites such as Plaxo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Active Rain, Twitter, CareerBuilder, The Ladders and any search engines that are frequented by exceptional sales managers.
The bottom line is that, in addition to staying aware of who is the most respected sales manager in your marketplace, you have to network.
Exceptional sales teams are crucial to surviving and thriving, but they don’t happen without a little effort. If you do the legwork, you will find a great sales manager who can help keep your sales team in line and on top.
Roger Fiehn, Fellow, MIRM, CMP, MCSP, CSP, is president and CEO of Roger Fiehn & Associates, Inc., a team of sales, marketing and business management strategists assisting builders, developers and suppliers in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, e-mail Fiehn, call him at 281-481-0831 x1 or visit his Web site at www.rfiehn.com.
This article originally appeared on the NAHB Sales and Marketing Channel.
Tax Credit Web Site Looks at Opportunity of a Lifetime
Builders and other industry professionals can help spur home sales by referring prospective first-time home buyers to www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. The NAHB Web site provides detailed information on the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers included in the economic stimulus legislation signed into law by President Obama.
Consumers can use the Web site to find information on the tax credit – including a detailed question and answer section. It also includes information about other housing-related and small business measures in the legislation and a number of home-buying resources for consumers.
Spanish Version Also Available Online
A Spanish version of this increasingly popular Web site is also available to provide detailed information on the tax credit to Spanish-speaking first-time home buyers.
Industry professionals are encouraged to highlight either tax credit Web site when marketing to their potential first-time home buyer market.
Subscribe to Sales + Marketing Ideas Magazine for Cutting-Edge Information
For additional cutting-edge sales and marketing information, subscribe to NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine (www.smimagazine.com).
Click here to learn about membership benefits of the National Sales and Marketing Council and the Institute of Residential Marketing.