The most important relationship in a sales organization is between a salesperson and a sales manager. Choose your managers carefully. Success as a sales manager is driven by what is inside – a respect for the individual, a commitment to engage, challenge, and build trust, a genuine caring. Without these, a sales manager will never move from first base.
A sales manager’s ability to attract the right talent, to recruit and retain salespeople who possess egodrive, empathy, and resiliency, is critical to success.
Top sales managers are students of process. They know that solid, repeatable processes form the foundations of being a champion.They continually seek creative and “best ways” to achieve objectives, and to energize those best practices throughout the sales team.
Strategy, goal-setting, territory and competitive analysis, measurement, business planning, activity management, forecasting, key account reviews – Building strength in these areas of business management creates a bias for growth with the sales team.
Sales managers must embrace coaching as their primary practice. Superior coaches help their people see what they can be. They question, they listen, they challenge, they encourage, they teach, they mentor – knowing deep down that lasting performance comes from the inside out.
Sales managers are proactive change agents. They are continually in the field observing selling behaviors and guiding. They expect and inspect. They help strategize and debrief sales calls. They are catalysts. They anticipate obstacles and remove them. They analyze trends based on facts, and take calculated risks accordingly.
Sales managers build alliances within their organizations and with customers. They manage up as well as down. They champion and back up both the salesper-son and the needs of the customer. They know how to engage organization resources to add value, solve problems, and achieve results.
While motivation is primarily an internal quality, sales management understands that creating a positive, fun environment, coupled with the effective application of incentives and celebration inspires commitment and builds a culture of winners.
Sales managers never stop learning. They model a commitment to lifelong improvement. They train and practice relentlessly with their salespeople. They continually “raise-the-bar”. They make learning a priority and a habit, for themselves and their sales team.
By John Benson