A Sales Manager’s Guide: 4 Tips for Great Ride-Along Meetings
When a sales manager accompanies a salesperson on a sales call, good things should happen, but quite often things don’t go as well as one would hope. The buyer and the seller come away feeling less than satisfied with the meeting.
Which raises the obvious question: Why do a “four legged” or ride-along call if nothing significant can be accomplished? It’s the sales manager’s responsibility to optimize the results of such a meeting.
Here are 4 tips for productive ride-alongs:
1. Figure out the purpose of the call.
For various reasons, most sales managers who were once salespeople, like to make occasional sales calls. Sometimes the reason is “Let me show you how it’s done, kid”.
Bad idea! Showing off for a salesperson can destroy that salesperson’s relationship with the buyer involved.
The buyer might then begin to gravitate towards the sales manager and away from the salesperson. Going forward, the buyer might try to connect directly with the sales manager and not the salesperson, about important issues.
Trying to impress a salesperson with a stellar sales performance simply isn’t worth the aftermath.
2. Work out a “script” for the sales manager and the salesperson to follow.
This process distills the purpose of the call. What needs to be covered, who says what, the desired outcome, etc. all need to be worked out in advance.
It will also eliminate confusion that can kill a sales meeting. Buyers have little patience for sales managers and salespeople who don’t have their act together.
Walking in with a game plan for the meeting will give all participants greater confidence that it will be time well spent. Great sales managers always have a plan for these occasions.
3. Don’t let the salesperson “disappear” during the sales call.
Don’t let a three-way conversation turn into a two-way one. As stated earlier, the salesperson’s relationship with the buyer should not be compromised or jeopardized by the presence of the sales manager on a call—it’s simply not worth it.
Whenever possible, let the salesperson lead the conversation. That reinforces the bond between the salesperson and the buyer, and signals the sales manager’s confidence in the salesperson to both the salesperson and the buyer.
Any good salesperson wants to show his/her sales manager how well they perform—sales managers should never rob them of that opportunity.
4. Make it clear that all of the “next steps” will be handled by the salesperson.
This is one more level of reinforcement of the relationship between the salesperson and the buyer. Sales managers are already extremely busy and don’t need more “to dos” that should be handled by a salesperson.
Sales managers should commit to the general objectives post sales call, but the salesperson should commit to handling the details of making it happen. If the sales manager sends a follow up note to the buyer, it should clearly state that the salesperson will be handling the deal points from the meeting.
Make these calls as productive as possible and minimize any unintended consequences. The sales manager is definitely the producer of these joint meetings, but shouldn’t be the star. Keep that thought in mind to make ride-alongs much more rewarding for everyone involved.
About the Author
Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.