Introduction to Managing the Sales Effort

Quick Summary: Understanding and managing the overall sales process often does not receive enough attention.


There are many excellent books and seminars on how to sell that describe all aspects of the sales cycle from prospecting to closing.  These books and seminars are primarily focused on the sales rep.  There are, however, a number of other activities that can help sales managers as well as sales reps in the process.  These activities do not seem to attract as much attention but are equally important for the company to address to develop a consistent and growing sales pipeline.

To begin, it is important to explain what this chapter does not cover.  It is not a “How to Sell” manual.  There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of books that explore that concept in great detail.  Most are written by previously highly successful sales reps.  Clearly, there is no one perfect sales technique that is applicable to all sales reps representing all products and services.  Instead, this chapter focuses on three topics that include 25 articles that are intended to help manage the sales process and may be of interest to sales managers and company executives as well as sales reps. The three sections and articles included in this chapter are briefly summarized below.

The next two chapters in this collection, “Supporting the Sales Team” and “Customer Topics,” considerably overlap with the articles in this chapter.  A strong case could be made to move some of the articles from one of these chapters to another.

Chapter Sections and Summaries

  1. Sales Forecasting

Every sales rep and sales organization is required to forecast sales.  The forecast impacts virtually every operational component in the company.  A cynical, but probably fair, assessment is that sales forecasts actually provide a good predictor of what won’t happen!  The controllable and uncontrollable variables are just too great and their timing is simply too hard to predict to make a forecast accurate.  The exception can be for those sales that are small, high volume sales in which there is a significant amount of historical data.  Articles in this chapter describe some techniques that can be used to add accuracy to this very challenging activity.

  1. One Question to Answer

Carefully answering all seven parts of one question: “Who is the customer and what is their single most compelling reason to buy, now, from us?” is discussed in this section.  Answering this question helps set the most appropriate sales strategy and provides a realistic expectation of the likelihood of a sale.

  1. Why They Buy

Although each sales situation can be very different, there is only a short list of fundamental buying motives.  These motives are discussed in the articles in this section.


Chapter Articles and Summaries


Introduction to Managing the Sales Effort


Understanding and managing the overall sales process often does not receive enough attention.

Forecasting is Tough


Increase forecast accuracy by understanding why past forecasts were correct or not.

All Probabilities are the Same


Sales probabilities are always 50%, an order is received or not.

Progress as a Predictor


A sales process consists of a series of definitive steps that can easily be measured.

Progress Predictor Questions


Predict sales through the use of a series of simple yes/no progress progression questions.

Creating the Predictor Questions


Use actual experience to identify the 5 or 6 milestones in each level of the sales funnel.

Forecast Pushback


Sales reps should follow a standard process like airline pilots with a pre-flight checklist.

Learn by Flushing, Not Filling


A stagnant sales funnel consumes valuable resources.

End-to-End Control


Customers focus on how a new product can be integrated into their entire business.

Time is Always the Enemy


Sales opportunities need to take advantage of initial enthusiasm.

The Sales Cycle is Non-Cyclical


Sales cycles vary considerably based on the company’s stage and market acceptance.

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Why?


Past performance IS indicative of future results unless changes are made.

One Question: Multiple Parts


One seven-part question provides an accurate assessment of a sales opportunity.

The WHO in the Question


The customer is really a person, not a company.

The CUSTOMER in the Question


The actual customer is the person responsible for the deployed success of the product.

The SINGLE in the Question


There is always one single reason to buy that resonates with the customer.



One “Must-Have” versus many “Nice-to-Have” reasons will drive the purchase decision.

The BUY in the Question


A transaction needs to produce recognized revenue to be considered an “order”.

The NOW in the Question


Although many buying signs may be made, the actual receipt of the order is all that matters.

The YOU in the Question


Understand if a customer is buying from you, as a person, or from your organization.

Almost the Same Question


Understanding how both you and your business partner can be successful is critical.

Buying Motives


There are only a few true root buying motives. Take time to determine your customer’s.

Consensus is What Counts


Decisions require consensus, not just the action of one individual; no matter at what level.

Be Like Sand


Enlist the entire organization to sell throughout the prospect’s organization.

Stand and Stand for One Thing


Select one message and demonstrate it often.


Article Number : 5.010101   

A Handy Reference Guide for Executives and Managers at All Levels.

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