by Tony Vidler
The majority of professionals running practices have superb technical competency, and often have significant commercial management skills, but a very common shortcoming is “Sales Management” experience or skills.
The typical result of this shortcoming is that management of the revenue producers in a professional practice becomes a matter of making the troops jump through hoops. Procedures and process become paramount.
Emphasis is given to form…and conformity. Once that behaviour is enshrined, the focus shifts to “activity”. Just getting them to be busier. Hustle more.
Following the established procedures, and then just getting busy calling folk…doing things the way the manager learned to do them….in a different era and in different circumstances….and the producers in the practice struggle to achieve the revenue results to anyone’s satisfaction (including their own).
The task orientation that comes with giving the troops hoops to jump through (or task management if you prefer) is not in itself a bad thing – it is actually a necessity for nearly all at some stage, or for some phase, or their career development. So too is the need to follow established procedures that minimise risk for all and build consistent customer experiences.
These approaches are useful for establishing baseline habits. Much more is needed though if you want the producers to improve in performance, and improve as people: Sales management is required.
This involves a wider range of skills & knowledge transfer, systems creation, coaching, monitoring, mentoring and authority. Sales management when done well is not about managing sales per se: it is about managing the growth of people.
Successful grooming and development of the producers in any practice requires a lot more than simply establishing some targets and monitoring them. It also involves managing behaviour, establishing and maintaining culture, facilitating positive change individually and as an organisation, providing the blend of teacher/mentor/coach/authoritarian at appropriate times, providing strategic direction and operational support to achieve the strategic objective as well as continually improving and evolving all of the above.
More than anything else though, it is about developing the skills in your people that they need to succeed. Simply harassing people to do more of the same ineffective tasks, or to do the same important tasks ineffectively, helps nobody. Not you. Not them. Certainly it is not helping the valuable prospects and clients you’ve invested so heavily in attracting to your brand.
To get more out of your producers, and to give them greater satisfaction, you need to be a sales manager at least some of the time. Help manage sales performance by providing the direction and vision, the tools, the support and the boundaries, and above all else be the coach and the teacher and the mentor and the authoritarian as and when each of those roles is required.
Manage the people well and you will get the results. Simply managing for activity or results does not usually develop good people, or a good practice.