Six Ways To Be A Better Sales Manager
A big part of your responsibility as sales manager is to help your sales team increase their own capacity to perform and improve the outcomes of their performance – in other words, to help them help themselves become better salespeople.
To that end, you want to conduct regular sales meetings to clarify shared goals and support accountability, provide one-on-one coaching to keep individual salespeople on track, and deliver training when needed. What can you do to improve the outcomes of your performance when you’re conducting those sales meetings, providing the coaching and delivering the training? Here are six suggestions.
1. Analyze Your Own Attitude.
How you approach your work not only reveals how you feel about your job, but also establishes a baseline from which your salespeople develop their attitudes about work and, ultimately, their work ethic. Are you enthusiastic, or do you view your work as an imposition? When facing challenges, do you look for and find possibilities, or do you only point out limitations to be overcome? It’s difficult for your people to perform at their best and go the extra distance when they perceive that your only goal is to get through another day. Remember: the way you address challenges with the members of your sales team serves as a powerful signal to them about how they should address challenges during their selling day. Habitual attitudes that support drama, resignation and cynicism do not support you as a manager – or your team. For more on this important topic, see Sandler trainer Bill Bartlett’s new book “The Sales Manager’s Playbook: Breaking the Performance Code.”
2. Adapt Your Behavior.
You and each of your sales team members have a unique personality – a unique preference for interacting with others, looking at things, analyzing data and making decisions. Each team member has different strengths he or she brings to the job. You need to recognize – and appreciate – those differences, and adjust your patterns of interaction so those differences become building blocks to communication, cooperation and productivity, rather than roadblocks. One good way to do that is to become more familiar with the “DISC” system of behavioral style assessment, a personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication.
3. Acknowledge Your Limitations.
Your primary function as manager is to guide your people to perform at their best; not be a “know-it-all” who tells them what to do, and when and how to do it. Let your salespeople know that you don’t have all the answers (even if you might think you do in a given situation). Include them in the process when you’re setting goals, developing strategies and addressing challenges. Encourage them to offer input and ideas. Their participation gives them greater ownership in the processes and eventual outcomes and provides them with additional motivation to perform. Business writer Kimberly Weisul noted recently that, “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity. There can be zero innovation without vulnerability.” Innovation and creativity is more important within the sales role than in almost any other role in the enterprise … but managers who make a habit of acting as though they have all the answers can make the creative instinct vanish in a heartbeat. Weisul’s insight is worth bearing in mind for sales managers who want salespeople to be more proactive, and to do a better job of solving their own problems.
4. Delegate Responsibilities.
Most likely, there are some routine activities you regularly perform that can be assigned to sales team members. Delegating responsibilities not only frees up your time to invest in more pressing activities, but also gives your team members greater ownership in the efficient functioning of the department … which encourages them to perform at their best. Delegating responsibilities facilitates your team members’ personal and professional growth. (But see #5, below.)
5. Be a Resource.
When you delegate responsibilities and encourage your salespeople to provide input about goals and projects, you must be available to listen to them, answer their questions, and provide guidance when needed. Let your people know that they can come to you to discuss relevant issues. And when they do approach you, pay attention. Listen with both ears! Encouraging interaction and then not paying full attention is worse than discouraging the interaction in the first place.
6. Follow Up.
Once you enable your sales team to more fully engage in department operations, it is imperative that you follow up. Let them know how they’re doing; give them timely feedback. Doing this enables you to manage their activities in “real time” rather than after the fact, keep them on track and correct mistakes more quickly.
Use these six suggestions to examine your attitudes, actions and outcomes as a manager. For more insights on effective sales management, visit us at www.sandler.com/resources/sandler-books/coaching. You are sure to find new ways of interacting with your salespeople – ways that will help them improve their performance and assume more responsibility for their own success. I95
Dave Mattson is a bestselling author, sales and management thought leader, keynote speaker and leader for sales training seminars around the world. As CEO and President of Sandler Training, Mattson oversees the corporate direction and strategy for the company’s global operations including sales, marketing, consulting, alliances and support. His key areas of focus are sales leadership, strategy and client satisfaction. Learn more at www.sandler.com.