The ‘Four Knows’ You Need to Know
- Know Your Product. You must possess sufficient knowledge of your product in order to be able to best match customer needs and wants with what you are capable of offering. You do not need to know roof truss load/deflection formulas, but you sure need to know what a roof truss is and what it does, as well as know about the other components of your product.
- Know Your Sales Process. You must understand and be able to effectively execute your sales process — from researching prospective leads and presentation to closing and servicing the sale.
Your company has a process and you need to learn it, execute it and help refine it. Thoroughly applying an effective process will also help shorten the sales cycle while increasing your success rate.
Constantly study other successful sales approaches to help hone your personal skills.
- Know Your Purchasers. In other words, you have to understand buyer profiles and the marketplace in which you operate. You have to listen, listen and listen to effectively build a relationship with your prospective buyer, clarify their needs and wants and know when to close the transaction.
- Know Yourself. Work to understand your own motivators, strengths, work patterns and processes ― and know your weaknesses.
Know when you are personally creating barriers that hinder your success and know how you can improve yourself. Know how to get yourself back on track after receiving a “no.” Seek feedback from others on your sales presentations — and heed their comments.
The Four X Factors to Sales Management Success
Not every successful sales representative can become a successful sales manager. The main difference is that the effective sales manager not only possesses the “Four Knows,” he or she also understands and consistently applies an additional set of characteristics which I call the “Four X Factors” (or “extra” factors).
X Factor #1 — Know how to coach and counsel.
Having others, especially sales representatives, report to you requires a completely new set of skills to help influence and improve their performance. Likewise, knowing the difference between requiring coaching vs. counseling is critical.
An effective coach and counselor has to know himself or herself in order to offer support and direction to their direct reports. Seek out mentors who can help you, and attend appropriate training courses that can help you refine your coaching and counseling capabilities.
X Factor #2 ― Know how profit and loss works in your company.
Your role requires that you understand how decisions made by you and your sales representatives impact the financial success of your company.
Too many sales representatives and sales managers don’t understand how “giving the customer a slight break” on price, terms or conditions has a multiplier effect that can damage other sales efforts, increase company costs or create situations that can jeopardize the viability of your product/service lines. Spend time with your operations and finance people to gain a solid understanding of your company’s financial matters.
X Factor #3 – Know how to select, train and retain successful sales representatives.
As in most relationships in life — selection is key.
Commit the necessary time and effort into applying your company’s selection process effectively ― creating or improving it as needed. Once new sales representatives come on board, it is essential that they not only be trained in the “Four Knows,” they also need to clearly understand how you as their leader, coach and counselor will use the “X Factors” with each of them.
Retention of key talent is absolutely critical, and it’s up to you to listen, listen, listen to your sales professionals since they are the foundation of your success as a manager. If you cannot select, train and retain appropriate talent, you will not keep your position.
Study the successful sales achievers in your company, industry and market so that you can recognize “success patterns” that will improve your ability to effectively select the next superstars in your direct organization.
X Factor #4 – Know how to analyze and adjust company performance systems.
For better or for worse, your company has its own unique recognition and rewards programs ― written or unwritten — that dovetail with your compensation system.
While sales representatives need to know the basics of the performance management system in which they are operating, the sales manager must know how to analyze performance individually and across areas ― a far different and more complex set of activities.
With an effective understanding of profit and loss, coaching and counseling, selection, development and training methodologies, you can appropriately measure and influence performance of your subordinates.
One other item of importance for the sales manager is the fact that you will be spending less time face-to-face with the customer. You must commit this additional energy and time to developing your “X Factor,” and to developing the “Four Knows” in those who report to you.
Successful sales representatives and sales managers require a significant, yet distinct set of skills. Management needs to recognize and cultivate these skills in its staff. One of the most frequent mistakes I have seen companies make when selecting new sales managers is to simply give the position to the salesperson with the best field sales record. This does their entire organization a disservice.
In conclusion, while you are busy with the “Four Knows” and the "Four X Factors,” remember to commit time to developing the next sales manager or two for your company. If you do all of the above, you’ll be nearly ready for the next regional, divisional or national sales manager opening in your company.
Mike Owen is vice president of human resources, sales, marketing and business development for Empliant, Inc. of Chapel Hill, N.C. Owen has 30 years of human resources, operations and sales management experience. E-mail Owen for more information.
Originally published in NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine ©2004.
Subscribe to Sales + Marketing Ideas Magazine for Cutting-Edges Information
For additional cutting-edge sales and marketing information, subscribe to NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine. Call 800-368-5242 x8192 or visit www.smimagazine.com to subscribe or order a copy. Click here to learn about membership benefits of the National Sales and Marketing Council and the Institute of Residential Marketing.
Residential Marketing Courses and Designation Programs for Sales & Marketing Professionals
The Institute of Residential Marketing (IRM) offers four designation programs for sales and marketing professionals:
- The CMP and MIRM designation programs for new home marketing professionals
- The CSP and MCSP designation programs for new home sales professionals.
For more information on these designation programs, click here or call 800-368-5242 x8192. To locate a MIRM in your state, visit www.nahb.org/MIRM.
BuilderBooks.com Offers Sales and Marketing Publications Online
BuilderBooks.com offers a variety of sales and marketing publications online. To view or purchase these publications, click here.
[ Go to Top ]