The Secret to Managing Sales Performance

1991, the First Gulf War was exploding into action and I was advising mortgages and protection at Prudential Property Services and doing rather OK. My reward was a one to one with my Sales Manager, Dave Littlewood.

Dave was a Londoner and an excellent sales manager because he always had a plan for his one to ones and it never differed.

He’d invite you in to sit down. He wore his glasses on the end of his nose, readers. His first question was “Ow’s it goin’ Paul” in his south London accent.

Then he’d pause and wait for me to begin answering. He’d stop me, raise his pile of paperwork and say “I know ‘ow you’ve been doing mate, the numbers are all ‘ere”

And they were, he didn’t have today’s technology and CRM systems, dashboards and spreadsheets but he had my metrics and KPIs and he knew whether I was on, above or below target.

If I was above target, which was most of the time J his next step was to pat you on the back, ask if there was anything he could do to help and then usher you out the door. And on the way to the door I was invited to “grab a bottle of shampoo from the case in the corner and you and your girl should enjoy that tonight on me”. Dave was never that politically correct but this was the early 90’s.

If you were below target, his next step was to simply ask what your plan was. He’d listen to your plan, add to it a little using his experience and pack you off to complete the plan, without the shampoo of course.

If you had no plan, he’d then determine activities for you. How many calls he expected, how many first meetings, second meetings etc. He would then target you on activity hard until your numbers improved. Naturally you’d get training as well.

And it worked. Dave was one of the best sales managers I’ve worked with. Old school maybe, but his tactics are still spot on today. I know many managers who just seem to want to drive activity numbers. This should only be done if results are down not by default.

And this fetish for having the latest CRM and dashboard that modern sales managers seem to have. Have one, keep it all simple, and focus on the basics.

I wonder where Dave is now? We didn’t have LinkedIn or Facebook to keep in touch back then but we did win the First Gulf War, or is it still going on today?

Bit edgy that one and you did know that shampoo was actually champagne didn’t you?