Sales managers have no easy task. You’re responsible for the life blood of your company – new deals, more deals, and better deals. You’re leading a group of very different individuals to perform at their best and beyond. Each alone and as a cohesive sales team. Ever wonder what the best sales strategy encompasses?
There’s a whole bunch of things you have to get right. Like picking and training the right people to fit your unique sales culture, a culture which you personally have to nurture. You have to monitor, lead and inspire every member to love their work and get the right results. While handling your fiercely independent star players.
All of which brings the expression ‘herding cats’ to mind.
So how do you juggle these tasks so well that you join the top 5% of sales managers? How do you turn your herd of cats into a crack SWAT team? These 7 habits, followed by the best, will set you on the right track.
1. Lead First, Manage Second
Most sales teams are over-managed and under-led. The key to leading your team to great heights is to empower them, and inspire them with vision. Don’t just manage them.
Instead, create an environment where the right culture, training, motivation, measurement and accountability systems lead your individual sales people to perform and grow, without you sitting on their shoulder every day chanting rules like a noisy parrot.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Minimise it. Get it out the way. Keep your eye on the long term, the vision. And make sure your people are excited to be a part of it. Remember, the pressure comes to you first. You choose to pass that pressure on to your team either as stress, or as fuel for results. As excitement and opportunity.
The following habits will lead you to lead better.
2. Reinforce Positive Sales Habits
What gets attention, gets repeated. If you draw attention only to mistakes, they will get repeated. Instead, reinforce, reward and celebrate every action you see that’s moving in the right direction.
In the heated world of sales, this can be tricky to spot. Busy does not mean productive. Making more calls and data-dumping appears busy, but it doesn’t get results. Careful qualification, opportunity analysis and laser-like customer focus gets results. Notice the right behaviours in your people, then reward them and reinforce them. To achieve this, you need to measure. And measure the right things.
3. Measure What Matters
Top performers rarely make the most calls. Calls do not equal performance. We all know that, right?
So don’t measure and reward performance based on calls. All you’ll achieve is a hefty phone bill. Measure performance based on results, on revenue earned. Then help each individual achieve those results, with personal attention, coaching and training.
4. Put Coaching & Training First
The training and coaching of your people is not their responsibility. It’s yours. Even if you’ve just hired a fancy pants sales hot shot from another firm, never see them as having complete training. View every individual’s training as an ongoing process, or you will always see disappointing results at some point.
And training means more than just the brief intro to your product. Train their sales skills, their sales behaviours. Treat them like a valued asset you are investing in, and they will act like one too. To know what training they need, stay personally invested in their progress. Coach them.
5. Focus on What Matters
Top notch sales managers are masters of spending their time focusing on what matters – coaching, training and developing their team. Leading them towards real results and the shared vision.
That means spending the vast majority of your working hours on coaching, training and developing. Not just Wednesday afternoon when you find a free couple of hours in between firefighting and admin jobs. A few hours a week should be the only amount of time you allow for taking a break from coaching, training and developing your team.
The best of the best can do this because they are simply terrific at managing their time.
6. Master Time Management
How you spend your time is critical. This is the number one skill to master as a sales manager. If you don’t know where your hours are going, then you’re failing at the job. Study time management like your life depends on it, and implement the time management habits of champions.
And watch out for the number one time-wasting mistake of sales managers. Hiring badly.
7. Master Hiring
You are responsible for the people on your team. You can only work with the materials you’ve got, and one bad hiring decision can have a huge and long-lasting negative impact on the team. Get fully involved in the hiring process at every opportunity. Become the go-to hiring guy or gal in your organization.
Always make it crystal clear what skills are needed, make sure they can adapt to your sales processes and are personally driven to exceed sales targets. Hire people who fit your culture. Make sure you genuinely like the individual, and that they will get along well with others in your team.
People who lack social and emotional intelligence rarely make great salespeople.
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