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Levels of conversation

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  • Levels of conversation

    As a sales manager I spend a lot of time talking to my direct reports (4) and their direct reports (40-50). The org chart is like that:

    Me (chief sales manager) - level A
    | | | |
    1 2 3 4 <- My directs (sales managers) - level B
    | | | |
    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| <- Their directs (sales) - level C

    I usually discuss with my directs particular projects. I mentioned that it started to take a lot of time. So I would like to define, let me call that, levels of conversation to define what should be discussed at what level. I will try to explain what I mean.

    When you are a sales (level C) then you plan a particular project(s) (deal) and do the planned actions. When you are a sales manager (level B) of this sale and a few others you'd help them plan the deal(s), help go through particular action steps and control the status of their projects. And when you are a sales manager like me (level A) that controls other sale managers here a question comes.

    What should I discuss with my directs? Particular projects are being discussed between B and C so it makes no sense for me to discuss that as well. Discuss general situation like how are you doing all in all? It looks like useless as well.

  • #2
    What are your areas of responsibilities? Do get C-level types enough schooling? Normally they don't. What about the scripts they have to work off from? Are they written by a bad writer? I guess yes. How can you help B-lvel types to become better managers? What else could be improved? What about the adress databases? Are they badly managed? I bet they are. Are you building up your own data? Which kind of deals tend to go well and why?

    What are your areas of responsibilities? Do you are responsible for the numbers? Then improve your staff. Are you responsible to find new products? What's your job?


    • #3
      I'm responsible for company to get it's income. Let's say 1 mln. Then I spread that between my directs (250K each). And they spread between their directs (let's say 25K each). Then I have to make sure all together we get 1 mln.


      • #4
        Here is what IMO you should do:
        • Improve schooling of C-level people. It's the only way you can improve your product. Either they get better or your company is toast. What are your schooling goals for this quarter?
        • Get feedbacks from your underlings. What problems do they see? Collect this and look at what you can do to improve the situation.
        • Get an education about selling. It's obvious you have to learn to sell yourself.
        Last edited by Cpu_Modern; 09-24-2011, 09:06 AM. Reason: typos and stupidity


        • #5
          C-level sales are doing well. As well as B-level sales. The questions what should I do. Just sit and get revenue? Sound like a dream I'd like to do something to help B and C level sales as well as check their progress.


          • #6
            I would have thought your job is to lead, to set the direction. Their job is to plan and execute the projects. You should be developing, leading and monitoring at the higher levels on the horizons of focus. What is our vision? What are our goals? Have we got the right projects identified to achieve these goals? Is what we are doing working? Have we got the right tools, skills, knowledge, information, systems etc etc to achieve our goals? What are our strengths, what do we do well? What opportunities exist that we haven't thought of but our strengths could be applied to? What other business areas could we explore?
            And monitoring questions - what are the values and principles we are applying? Has there been any conflicts in principles and how were these resolved?


            • #7
              That's the point!

              Suelin23, thanks for the proposal. It looks like you got the point. So my main purpose is to create vision. Any books you can recommend for that particular case? I'd like to become more theoretic with my approach to staff.


              • #8
                Stephen Covey's books, starting with the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, are really good for the higher levels, the mission and vision and people skills type stuff. I think Stephen and David's work are really complementary, Stephen covers the higher levels really well but really fails to address how to deal with the day to day detail, and David Allen covers the day to day detail really well, but only gives a brief coverage of the higher levels. Together they complement each other and give a good overall system.


                • #9
                  speaking from underlying viewpoint

                  Not sure this applies but if it does you might consider it. While I have not been in the underling role in a very long time when I was one of the practices that hurt my performances was that of managers or directors who operated on a "need to know" basis. I could always do my job much better if I knew what was going on, what was planned and why. When I did know, I could help indirectly or directly in a more positive way. I could also understand the source of stress others were experiencing.

                  One caution is that organizational climate and philosophy has to be explicitly tuned to such openness and even the most basic values, efficiency and getting along, might need to be spelled out. If it is not, when the lowest level clerk (that was me) does something so small as making a tracking form for his own use or putting my supplies in alphabetically ordered boxes, it was a threat to the person one step or more above, who went to the top about Jamie "changing how we do things".

                  However, I am not in that role now and I deal with the reverse--an "underling" who while reliable, and well-intending repeats her ill-thought out ideas based on a first view, free association, or something she heard about on a commercial, and ad nauseum, even after they have been ruled out as unsuitable due to dimensions, maintenance requirements, costs, legalities, etc.