What makes an effective sales manager?
Acting as sales manager can be a difficult job because you wear two bulls-eyes: one on your front and one on your back.
Your senior management is pushing for results, numbers, revenue, and profit. Your sales people are looking to you for guidance. At times, you may feel spread too thin or caught in the middle. You may even find yourself micromanaging your team.
If you are unclear about your role as sales manager, you could get caught in a losing position. So let's start by redefining what it means to be a sales manager, and then examine how you can enhance your management abilities in order to be successful for yourself, your team, and your company.
Redefining Your Role
By changing the narrative around your position, you may able to reassess how you view challenges, solutions, and collaboration. A sales manager is a sales leader. Since you are in charge of supporting sales, you are essential to helping your company grow!
The most crucial aspect of sales growth is a strong sales team. There is a great quote from motivational speaker Jack Daly that says, “Your job as a sales manager is not to develop sales, but to develop sales people.” So be a sales leader, and lead your team to success.
Leading Your Team to Success
Our friend and fellow sales speaker John Asher has developed 3 key competencies of a sales manager: mentorship, strategy, and communication. You may already have one or two of these practices under your belt, but if you can master all three, you will see results.
Mentorship is how you approach your sales team from your position. Each sales person should feel valuable as a team member, and be clear on their goals as a contributor. Here are 5 guidelines to remember when acting as a mentor.
- Recruit and build a cohesive sales team.
- Help your salespeople develop as professionals. As business magnate Richard Branson once said: “Train people well enough so that they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don't want to.”
- Motivate each person individually. What makes you want to succeed at work? Inspire your team so that you share your enthusiasm.
- Participate in sales calls, but only when appropriate. Trust that your team can handle it. If they cannot, then you can step in.
- Coach, don't manage. This is another way you can redefine yourself as a sales manager. Guide people towards discovering the answer for themselves. This will make everyone feel good.
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Strategy is how you tackle your work, and a great team deserves a solid game plan. As the leader of a team, view yourself the coach. What is your action plan for your developed team? You might have become manager because you stood out as a sales person. What are some of your best practices, and can you translate those abilities to become a group's process? Here are 4 helpful tips on approaching strategy.
- Create and communicate the sales team's vision. What are you working towards, together?
- Develop an approach for the marketplace. Be ready to pivot and adapt, and remain communicative when doing so.
- Match compensation and incentives to your strategy. Be realistic about what you can accomplish, but always strive to be better.
- Continuously manage and upgrade the sales process, and measure performance.
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Communication is imperative as a manager. Without clear communication, your mentorship and strategy will not strengthen your team as you'd hoped. Think of mentorship and strategy as the two leaning sides of a triangle, with communication as the base. Communication is what will keep the team solid and steady. Also, your communication style could be what sets you apart from other managers and is where you can thrive as an individual. Try using these practices when communicating with your sales team.
- Build bridges between top management, marketing, customer service, and the sales team.
- Encourage 360-feedback between you and each member of your sales team. This will build trust between both parties.
- Share information within the sales team, for example:
- Best practices for “wins.”
- Lessons learned in “losses” and finding opportunities.
- Handling objections. Discuss how to do so with grace so that you can continue to lead with your best foot forward.
- Your unique sales process. What is your distinctive approach to sales? Authenticity can go a long way.
- Documenting ideas, goals, stories, and other smart selling practices in your company's Sales PlayBook. This will keep you organized, on track, and make the process understandable for everyone involved.
If you can employ these 3 competencies as a sales leader, you are bound to see substantial results. Plus, you will probably enjoy your work more; positivity breeds positivity!
If any of these practices ring true for your career as a sales manager, let us know in the comments!