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BILL LEE: To Manage Sales Is an Active Verb


Measuring activities to ensure growth and development.


There’s a lot of responsibility that goes with the title, “manager.” Managers are charged with getting work done with and through the people who report to them. And when I use the words “getting work done,” I’m referring to measurable results.

In working with managers in building supply businesses, I frequently observe men and women who spend a great deal more time performing administrative tasks than I observe goal-oriented managers who lead and inspire their people to grow and develop into more productive members of the business team.

The best managers make things happen in spite of the obstacles that crop up. To me, productivity is measured by what the people in an organization are able to accomplish. So the first thing I believe managers must do when they assume a management position is to sit down with their boss and agree on what is expected of them in measurable terms. The second thing is to sit down with the people who report to them and reach agreement on their measurable goals and objectives.

The purpose of reaching these agreements with both supervisor and subordinate is to establish accountability—an extremely important part of making things happen.

Sales managers, as an example, are charged with working with their sales staff to achieve the company’s sales and gross margin goals. While sales and gross margin are perhaps the most important measurements of how well sales managers are performing their jobs, there are other activities they must measure and monitor, as well.

Here are a few examples:

• Quote to order ratio (the percentage of quotes that make it to orders).

• The sales staff ’s presentation skills.

• Dollars of new business.

• Number of new customers.

• Rate of customer retention.

• Relevant share of their assigned customers’ total purchases.

• Year over year sales growth.

• The sales staff ’s ability to manage their respective calendars.

• The sales staff ’s knowledge and understanding of their customers’ businesses.

• Controlling sales expenses as a percentage of sales and gross profit.