In over 30% of relationships between sales people and their sales managers the two parties fall out every year and is a reason why mangers want management training. This has encouraged the Business Psychology Institute to carry out an extensive study to analyse points of friction and concealed potential trouble between salespeople and managers.
The survey carried out intensive interviews with representatives and sales managers concerning their experiences of working together. The assessment was carried out both as a group comparison and pair-specific.
What do those asked think the aim of the business partnership is? This question showed that there are great differences in viewpoint. Only three pairs were in agreement about corporate goals. Barely a half of all salespeople believed that increasing turnover is the most important corporate goal. A third of sales managers said that the primary corporate goal is increasing market share.
These differing points of view are amazing, in view of both work for the same Firm. This essentially serves to demonstrate the insufficiency of communication within the relationship.
The theme about the salespersons goals confirms this inadequacy of communication: only two pairs were in concurrence. 40% of all salespeople said increasing turnover was their predominant target, 40% said creating a livelihood was their predominant ambition.
On the other hand, only a third of the sales managers believed that increasing turnover was the salespersons paramount ambition. Not one mentioned creating a livelihood as a target and a third did not even identify what their individual team goals were.
Type and quality of support. The majority of salespeople that where asked said that they felt supported by their former company. The type of support was assessed differently, however. Sales managers principally said that they had supported representatives through training sessions or meetings.
The majority of representatives, on the other hand, thought that they had been supported effectively through catalogues and prospectuses. Some felt that they had received no boost from their preceding Firm or did not concur on the disinterested sort of boost the Business had allowed.
What problems are there in the partnership? Over half of those asked said that the paramount disagreement issue is turnover difficulties, followed by corporate regulation. A quarter of those asked said that co-operation with their preceding team-mate floundered fundamentally because of communication problems, but only a very few of those asked saw management as an issue.
Revenue difficulties are based, on the one hand, on declining turnover and, on the other, arguments about commission levels.
The majority of sales managers thought that salespeople were lacking in commitment.
Problems relating to corporate strategy arise from differences in the company's payment strategy, the procedure that complaints are dealt with and in delivery capacity. In addition, some salespeople thought that positive opportunities were being denied. The problems of communication are based predominantly on a deficit of information feedback, which was complained about by many sales managers.
A conventional management predicament surfaced in the following salespersons expression: "I was called up almost every day (by the sales manager) to identify whether I had done any business." The salespeople continually felt that they were being controlled and for that reason that their free time was being infringed.
On balance, whereas sales managers often complain on management training courses that salespeople provide insufficient feedback about what is happening in the market, salespeople disapprove of the instructive or even demanding tone of their sales managers. Salespeople emphasise their independence, whereas sales managers demand that their claim to influence is fulfilled.
Which decisive event is usually the reason to split? The sales managers saw the most important reason for breaking up the business relationship as being a declining turnover or poor work quality on the part of their salespeople, which led to faulty services and/or client complaints.
Sales people, for their side, attributed the causes of declining turnover figures to the company's poor sales method or to market changes.
How does the break up take place? The break up itself was viewed by most of those asked as completely unspectacular. Salespeople who had a valid commitment were sacked in accordance with the rules. Innumerable companies have, in spite of that, tried to fill the leaving salespersons place before the expiry of the notice term.
Most of those asked said that the break left them feeling discontented by their former employee/employer, mainly immediately after.
Business-wise the split led to turnover losses both for the salesperson asked and for the company. Whereas managers or their companies had to find a suitable replacement, the salesperson had to find a new position in order to compensate for the income gap.
Most "partners" show subtle differences in the relationship from an early stage. It is therefore important for both sides to act in time on possible signals of conflict. The survey showed that many sales managers do not put enough effort into caring for their salespeople.
The differences in perceptions of goals and the variety of issues that in the long run led to the break revealed that managers take too little notice in their sales people and their view of things. Techniques for successfully implementing these prominent points are covered on appropriate management training courses.