Sales Managers have one of the toughest jobs in the world! I know that because I’ve worked with hundreds and I was one long enough to know. Why? You have management driving you like a dog, you have fewer resources than most other department heads, none of the other departments are cooperative, sales departments are dumped on like no other, you deal with primadonna’s, weaklings, self proclaimed studs, whiners, complainers, excuses, and you typically close more that 80% of the business yourself.
So I hope to impart some help for those of you that reside between a rock and a hard place. Sales management can be a great place if you have equality between authority and responsibility. However if this equilibrium is out of kilter one degrees you are trapped in a world of funk.
So what’s a Sales Manager to do? Focus on 5 areas to develop your team!
1. Accountability – Easier said than done I know. However, while it’s imperative to keep you job and move up the corporate ladder you have to hit the numbers. An easier way to hit the numbers than just pounding on your team is to tap into personal motivation. Help each team member define exciting personal goals that create commitment and desire. Then assist each individual in seeing how the company can be a personal vehicle to achieve their personal goals. Build a covenant to hold each person to the fundamental activities that produce results bringing them closer to their own personal goals. Once that is accomplished we have a true partnership. Let’s face it, it may not be everyone goal to work for the company forever, so let’s find out what they want, help them get it and as long as you help them they help you.
2. Coaching – Jimmy Johnson the great coach previously of the NFL said, ‘A coaches job is to help others perform at a higher level than they can by themselves.’ A coach is required to get people out of their comfort zone. Coaches find a way to keep the team inspired. Sometimes it’s tough love, sometimes it’s encouragement, sometimes it keeping the focus clear! A coach is like the leader of an orchestra. He knows how every instrument is played and what each part is supposed to be. Then he brings it all together for an awesome and exquisite performance.
3. Motivation – In a perfect world sales people are motivated. But this aint no perfect world and salespeople deal with more rejection and negativity than any other profession. So it’s critical that the Sales Manager be sensitive to each team member, their interactions with each other, their personal life and what is really going on under the surface. Sales people are motivated by many different things just as any other group. Believe it or not most sales people are not as money motivated as everyone on the outside may think. I have found that competition and recognition are bigger motivators. And then of course FREE time off is always good too.
4. Pre and Post Briefing- One of the most important things a sales manager can do is to help the sales person learn the right lesson form each selling situation. Often we draw conclusions from events that seem logical. However we all know that many of those conclusions are incorrect and then salespeople make the same mistake over and over again. Another problem is changing to quickly. Most salespeople are creative and continue to change something due to an event. Instead let’s look at patterns and define the root cause of the outcome. Instead of asking typical questions that get you typical answers define the fundamental issue and focus on that. Keep a log of what events take place with each sales person and look at a 30, 60, & 90 day pattern. This will work on the right end of the problem and it is usually between the ears.
Just like sighting in a rifle. Most shooters when sighting in will make adjustments after each shot. However, the more experience shooter will fire three shots, triangulate the center and adjust from there.
When pre and post briefing ask questions that will define the cause in two categories: A) Conceptual or B) Technical. A conceptual issue means they salesperson knew what to do, but didn’t because of some discomfort. A technical issue is based on the fact that the salesperson just didn’t know what they were supposed to. Now we have a lesson to apply to the next selling situation.
5. Building a Stronger Team – This means to always be looking for stronger salespeople to add to the staff. The problem here is like most departments. The manger gets emotionally involved and it becomes difficult to graduate non productive or mediocre sales reps. Sales recruiting is a must. Then we have to be able to determine the difference between those who not only can sell, but will. The only way to truly be effective with the first 4 responsibilities is to never be held hostage. The only way to never be held hostage is to always have a bench or a goto guy. Then this brings up the on boarding issue, ramp up and training. Too much to put into this blog for sure. However I will promise to discuss it next.
So I hope this had been a least a little insightful for all of the sales managers out there who are in the middle of the battle. Keep you head down, stop accepting excuses, take responsibility for growing you team and work smart, not hard.
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