If you have a great promo sales assistant, count yourself as being very fortunate!
However, the challenge of producing the extra revenue needed to justify your sales assistant must be considered. In my experience there are many sales reps who develop the sales volume and need for an assistant. When logically added, an assistant will help a sales rep increase revenue.
Like many situations in sales management, logic doesn’t necessarily apply. Here are the reasons why:
- Sales reps are often not good managers. The skill set needed to be a great sales person and generate revenue is not the same skill set needed to delegate, manage, set expectations, and develop accountability. Assign a team lead to supervise sales support personnel, and make damn sure they understand sales.
- Lack of vision limits the sales rep’s concept of what they can accomplish. I have seen sales reps take all day trying to explain the tasks to be completed by a sales assistant. As a result, he worked longer hours and his sales dropped while a frustrated and talented assistant struggled to help him.
- Duties are not divided in a simple way. I like this method. The sales rep sells and sales support does everything else—including guide the day of the sales rep. It might sound crazy, but I don’t want great sales reps on my team doing tasks that can be completed by someone at a lower wage rate. If you do nothing else, put this simple rule in place to be sure sales reps are building relationships, identifying and filling needs, and closing deals.
- Don’t be a micro-manager. While your detail orientation might make you great with client and sale specifics, it can make you a difficult supervisor and a failure as a manager.
- Your sales assistant should be your opposite. You are the ying; they are the yang. This balance makes a teamwork best, helps avoid duplicate efforts, and naturally divides turf and tasks.
- Trust is the key to successful sales support/sales rep relationships. Sales support trust that you will sell and maintain the need for their job. They expect you will assign tasks and get out of their way. And they know you want to sell more and make more money. The sales rep must trust that everyone’s best interests are aligned with one goal—increasing sales and income.
A great sales assistant is a rare find and the gives the sales rep a tremendous advantage. If you have a sales assistant, take the time to get the relationship right on Day 1. If you employ sales assistants be sure you are measuring sales rep margin contribution with the reps added cost. And you must provide proper management of both sales rep and assistant.