Outsourcing sales management

As companies grow, the natural tendency is to take the best salesperson and make him or her the sales manager. The problem is, the company has then turned its best producer from a revenue generator to a cost.

That was one of the issues facing David Charlton, owner of Rice Oil, which provides consulting and field service to production companies. Charlton found his solution at Sales Concepts Inc., which provides coaching and training for sales teams.

With the company’s help, Charlton developed and implemented an online management tool that allows business owners to quickly assess how well individuals and the company are doing compared to their goals, eliminating his need for a sales manager.

“I’ve got five businesses, and my goal is to be very entrepreneurial,” Charlton says. “I’m not very good with details. I don’t want to work in a business; I want to be able to work on it.”

Charlton uses an online solution that lets him track the most vital information about his business any time of day. He compares running a business to the description his brother-in-law, a former fighter pilot, gave of how the military trains pilots to concentrate on critical data under stress.

“When the fur was flying up in the air, he was going through a dogfight, there was so much going on,” Charlton says. “They train them to look at a panel that has five things called cross checks. (If) they focus on those five things — with all the other stuff going on – then they’ll land safely and fly another day.

“With all the businesses going on here and all the customers and all the things that we should be tracking and measuring, it’s hard for me to stay focused on the most important stuff. (The program) allows me to go online and see how our company is doing at any moment in time.”

Charlton is able to track a variety of key metrics including sales, revenue, gross profit, profit margin and even the company’s credit line through the program he helped develop, MyCrosschecks.

“We have the ability to (measure) visually instead of quantitatively how people are doing,” he says. “If they’re not hitting their numbers, it’s red; if they’re 5 percent off, it’s yellow; and if they’re nailing them, it’s green.”

Using the program as a sales management tool means Charlton can keep his best salespeople selling instead of managing.

“The other problem with the sales manager is they’re spending the majority of their time working with the weakest salespeople,” says Keith Strauss, president of Sales Concepts. “They’re always working on the problem child, so the good ones, who could be even better, just sort of sit there and coast, feeling nobody appreciates them.

“We’re using some technology, and now the time the sales manager used to commit to managing is being freed up to go back and sell, which is what he was really good at in the first place, and the people are getting better. The other issue is, just because they’re good at selling doesn’t mean they know why they’re good at selling, nor does it mean they have the skill-set to manage other sales people.”

Charlton makes the benefit very clear.

“I was in a lot of pain,” Charlton says. “I want to grow, be an entrepreneur and start businesses, but I’ve got to have a way to stay in touch with the ones I already have.”

HOW TO REACH: Rice Oil, 800-589-RICE (7423) or www.nofriction.com; Sales Concepts Inc., (440) 575-7000 or http://www.nofriction.com