By Walter Vieira and published by Sage; Pages 202, Price Rs295
New Delhi: It is like enrolling for a crash course in Sales Management. Run through the book, flip at random through its case studies, questionnaires, wise quotes and witty anecdotes to get the larger on-ground picture of what it takes to get the client to sign on the dotted line.
Where the ‘New Sales Manager’ scores is that it instantly draws into its fold the non B-School grad who may otherwise be intimidated by management jargon and complex situational analyses. Here he finds practical tips based on real field experience. He can implement them immediately while drawing parallels with the way he has thus far been conducting his sales pitch.
A handy book, it is not limited to a purely western setting. With broken down narratives that are designed like short letters, there is a visual element that comes from cartoons and a design format for someone who may not be into reading lengthy passages. It also has typical examples drawn from small town Indian settings.
How to communicate, what would be the right responses, what should one say when one has miscalculated or erred in interpreting a situation, how to be gracious on losing a contract but not necessarily a client, are easily discussed with takeways that can be instantly implemented.
Whether it is on the use of technology, networking, managing deadlines, hiring sales staff, drawing up their key resource areas or building morale and motivation - you will find it here.
With markets becoming more and more consumer driven, companies are investing in getting the right people who can make that single point contact with advertisers and consumers. Also new media tie-ups through the Internet and other technology fora calls for an enhanced skill set, where the book can provide some user-friendly tips.
The chapter on ethics talks of how the age of the glib talking salesman is over and how transparency and sincerity will be the cornerstones determining the success quotient of the salesperson. Starting with an effective quote, “My mother’s menu consisted of two choices - take it or leave it”, it leaves no ambiguity in the mind of the reader that ethics cannot be compromised.
The ‘Salesman who won’t improve’ section comes handy for those who have to battle consistent mediocrity and poor performance. Apart from taking specific case studies it lists out the traits of a stale salesman; discouraged salesman; lazy salesman; overagressive salesman; the good starter but poor finisher; time waster; rumour carrier and the grudge bearer - telling the employer in no uncertain terms that while every effort must be made to develop them, they must also recognize cases where there is little hope and one must terminate their services, lest they spread their contagion and bring disrupte to the company/ product they are representing.
There may be times when you feel that there are things that you already know, like telling the employer to analyse performance, not personality; or to treat salesman as intelligent adults, but then you are gently reminded that basic guidling principles of human resource management will always hold with their universal ‘correctness’.
The new sales manager must work closely with product management, distribution, market research and advertising. He has to give feedback from the market and guidelines for future action based on his in-field experience and knowledge. Increasingly, there will be interchange in assignments. Sales managers will serve terms as product managers, or marketing managers and vice versa. While basic principles of sales management will not change, methods and styles will change and the person will have to fit into this new mould.