Article | December 11, 2012

Your Sales Management New Year's Resolution: How Not To Get Fired

Ken Thoreson Acumen Management

By Ken Thoreson, president and founder, Acumen Management Group Ltd.

On a recent flight to Seattle, I was reflecting on the past year and thinking about 2013, and I came up with a quick summary of four basic actions that sales leadership must take to succeed in the New Year.

Step 1: Build an Active Recruiting Plan

Most sales managers get fired for not hitting the desired sales goals, the issue is normally because they have a lack of salespeople selling their products/services!  You must know what your average transaction value is vs. your yearly or monthly sales objectives. The question you need to answer is, “Do I have enough salespeople on board to achieve my monthly number of required sales transactions?”  You need to look out 90 to120 days — knowing your future potential revenue objectives — and understand your manpower requirements.  Recruiting is sales leadership’s marketing campaign for sales leads. Build an ongoing program to ensure you have the right talent in place to exceed your goals.

Step 2:  Know Your Pipeline Metrics

This is something that can bite a sales manager. You must know the accurate value of the pipeline 90 to 120 days out (depending upon your sales cycle). The question you must answer is, “Do I have enough opportunities — both in value and number — to achieve my upcoming monthly quota?” If not, what can you do to ensure you build up the pipeline values so that you will have enough opportunities to achieve the monthly objective? It’s December; what is your March pipeline value? Do you have the necessary values to achieve March’s goals when it’s March first?

Step 3: Don’t Neglect Training 

Recently, while visiting a new client, my client, a technical team member, and I listened in as two salespeople gave a demonstration to a new prospect.  It became obvious to the president that the salespeople were not professional or even capable of handling the meeting. It was enlightening, and served as an important reminder for continued focus on sales training.  The sales team had been neglecting our recommendations to improve their skill level, and now there will be an increased buy-in by management and salespeople to focus on sales skills. 

  • Make more sales calls with your team,
  • Build in  a quarterly  salesperson skills  evaluation process,
  • Increase more role playing in your sales training meetings
  • Build a quarterly sales training programs

Step 4: Improve Your Business Acumen

1) Make sure you read the local business sections in your local papers, the Wall Street Journal, business magazines/websites,  2) read 3 business books a year and 3)  join a sales leadership  “peer group” of other sales managers to learn how others are increasing their leadership skills. This step will improve your ability to discuss the business trends of the day with prospects and your sales team, increase your stature within your management team, and improve how you manage your team.

Follow these four steps and your odds of surviving the normal 18 month window that most sales leaders live under will improve. If  you have not downloaded  our White Paper “Top  40 Sales Management  Actions To Build Predictable Revenue,”  visit our website: , or send me an email,  and I will send it to you.  Also, you can register for our monthly newsletter: “Why Sales Manager Succeed!” at our website.

Finish the year huge and make sure you are ready to slam the first quarter!

Ken Thoreson is the president and founder of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at   Ken’s latest book is: “Recruiting a High Performance Sales Team”.  Blog: