Proactive Selling | William “Skip” Miller

Summary of: Proactive Selling: Control the Process — Win the Sale
By: William “Skip” Miller


Embark on a journey to revamp your sales strategy and unlock greater potential through ‘Proactive Selling: Control the Process — Win the Sale’ by William ‘Skip’ Miller. This book summary delves deep into the essential skills that separate a sales manager from a salesperson and highlights the importance of building a robust sales culture. As you progress through the summary, you’ll discover actionable strategies for managing time, people, and measurable objectives at work. Additionally, you’ll learn about the power of setting concrete performance expectations that directly impact sales outcomes. Brace yourself to explore the world of recruiting, interviewing, and corrective action processes in a proactive and forward-looking manner.

Leading vs. Selling

The role of a sales manager requires a shift in focus from selling to leading. While salespeople prioritize customers and independence, sales managers prioritize the company and working through others. Listening, giving direction, and people skills are crucial for managers. Successful sales managers look ahead, set objectives with their team, and promote a sales-driven culture.

The Power of Culture in A Sales Unit

Culture is intangible yet a powerful force that plays a significant role in shaping a sales unit. Expectations set by the culture directly impact employees’ performance and their beliefs about themselves. This can directly influence their success or failure in achieving their goals. Sales managers unknowingly give certain messages to their salesforce through their body language and tone and this influences the salesforce’s performance. The managers often struggle to adjust to high-performing employees as it requires them to change their set expectations. To tackle this issue, managers need to become aware of the existing culture of the sales unit and consciously work towards creating a culture that aligns with their vision for where they want the sales unit to be in a year. By writing down the most important principles of the culture, sales managers can make their vision of the culture clear. Finally, managers need to visualize what they need to do to bring about the change in the culture they have envisioned for the sales unit. These action steps can help in achieving the desired cultural change and improve the overall performance of the sales unit.

Sales Management: Time, People, and Objectives

Effective sales management requires the prioritization of time, people, and objectives. The most competent sales managers excel in managing their limited resources to address the most critical situations. To manage time effectively, sales managers should start their day focusing on their own agenda rather than reacting to others’ demands. Stellar sales performers are usually self-sufficient, while B and C-level players often require more assistance. Sales managers should prioritize their efforts to support high-performing salespeople, instead of wasting time on underachievers. By disengaging from weak sales performers and teaching them to improve independently, top salespeople can maintain their high performance and avoid being associated with mediocrity. To succeed in sales management, focus your efforts on the right people, objectives, and time management strategies.

Measurable Sales Objectives

To achieve the desired results, sales departments must set measurable objectives that focus on frequencies and skills instead of revenue. Frequencies refer to the number of sales calls, proposals, executive sales calls and demonstrations salespeople make to get a sale. Meanwhile, skills required include communication and negotiating skills, time management, and customer knowledge. Measuring the right skills and frequency increases productivity. It’s advised to catch your salespeople doing something right three times more than criticizing them. Getting what you measure is attainable by linking the right skills with the right frequency.

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