Too small for a full-time sales manager, yet too large not to have one – that was the plight of Sigma Data, a New Hampshire based computer hardware firm.
As Sigma grew, its president, Pete Kusinski, found he had less time to direct his sales force or acquire the additional skills to manage his increasingly complex sales organization. Kusinski also knew that Sigma’s existing sales management model was outdated… the company needed expertise that was not available within its own ranks.
Kusinski considered recruiting, but without an effective management model in place, there was no way to ensure he’d be hiring correctly. How could he develop a successful sales management program at Sigma, and postpone hiring a full-time manager?
His solution: outsourcing. Sigma Data was able to benefit from an Interim Sales Management (ISM) program.
His Interim Sales Manager provided one-on-one coaching to the Sigma sales team and consulted with Sigma’s top management on sales development issues. Her presence has yielded some dramatic results:
• Sigma’s revenues increased up to 15% within the first six months.
• Six unproductive sales people were transformed into a highly motivated, quota smashing team in four months.
• New hires are brought to full productivity in unprecedented time frames.
What is Interim Sales Management?
Interim Sales Management (ISM) programs place experienced sales management and sales training resources strategically within an organization. ISM accomplishes dramatic improvements in sales productivity through consistent monitoring of skill enhancement and sales activity goals.
When is an Interim Sales Manager necessary?
• When a company’s budget won’t cover a full-time sales manager
• When the president of a growing company can’t handle everything
• When salespeople need more focus prospecting for ideal customers in calling accounts
• When a company needs qualified management experience, rather than promoting from the ranks
In essence, when fast-paced, growing companies lack the time, resources, or money to develop an effective sales management program, ISM can be the solution.
What does an Interim Sales Manager accomplish?
The goals and objectives of an ISM vary with your company’s unique needs. At the start of an ISM engagement, a structured plan of activities and goals are established.
Throughout an engagement, Interim Sales Managers typically:
• Structures and conducts sales meetings on a regular basis
• Monitors performance and sales activity levels
• Trains the sales team on skills as needed
• Creates reinforcement exercises to support acquisition of new skills and behaviors
• Coaches individual team members on specific selling skills
• Creates and implements incentive strategies to reinforce effective selling behavior
• Conducts individual and team strategy sessions to close key accounts
• Motivates the team members to meet goals
• Identifies critical sales management skills in anticipation of the organization’s future needs
• Consults with top management on development issues (compensation, sales automation, etc.)
• Recommends strategies on personnel issues
• Reduces day to day involvement of senior management in routine sales
How does senior management benefit from an Interim Sales Manager?
• Gains more time to focus on crucial business issues instead of dedicating one or more days per week to sales management
• Receives senior sales management expertise without added personnel expense
• Receives objective feedback on business plans from a knowledgeable source that’s familiar with their business
• Receives access to a “knowledge pool” of expertise on business issues instead of paying for expertise every time you need it
• Postpones hiring middle management until the budget and organizational structure can support a full time position
• Receives relevant and focused training on a regular basis rather than paying for intermittent training that may not be on the right topic
• Identifies the skills needed before hiring/promoting a full time person who may not be a good match
How do you find a qualified Interim Sales Manager?
ISMs can be found via a Google or LinkedIn search, but as with many services, your network may be the best source. Whatever your source of an ISM, fully vet them prior to engaging. Speak with their clients, ask about their sales results, study your ISM’s qualifications, and make sure you like and feel good about the ISM. To play it safe, be sure to have an agreement regarding terminating the engagement if it becomes necessary.
Rather than recruiting a sales manager, your company may benefit from hiring an Interim Sales Manager. Carefully assess whether an Interim Sales Manager may be a better (and more cost effective!) solution.