Anyone who’s ever held a sales position can share a horror story, likely 2 or 3, about working for a terrible sales manager. The bad ones are easy to spot: ego driven, never wrong, hung up on process, excellent at alienating customers. The successful managers are less obvious, and that’s because the focus is on their team, a team that’s humming, making its numbers and creating life-long customers. And somewhere in between are the mediocre, not necessarily disasters, but certainly not positioning the company for growth.
If poor managers are obvious, what skills and attributes make the difference between mediocre and highly effective? It starts with the distinction between leadership and management. Of course, we sorely need excellent managers, but this distinction is in leadership behaviors. Leaders create inspiring cultures, establish clear and measurable expectations, coach team members based on individual needs and provide the resources necessary to win and keep customers.
Here are the success secrets from some of the best sales leaders I know. They’re in no particular order, but they all carry wisdom.
- Effective leadership begins at hiring the right people for your team; get good at it, because for many sales people, their best sales job is their interview
- Train in the field, not from behind your desk
- Don’t let your comp plan be a substitute for management
- If you have to micro-manage, you’ve hired the wrong person; get rid of them fast
- Don’t surround yourself with “yes men,” rather allow for dissent
- Create culture intentionally and let no producer damage it, no matter how good they are
- Develop a sales process reflecting internal best practices
- Implement SMART goals for your team and manage to them rigorously
- Communicate clearly, consistently, constantly; your employees shouldn’t have to read your mind
- Sales people are eternal optimists; always ask why a deal won’t happen
- Your team is made up of individuals – coach and motivate them based on their individual needs
- Your #1 priority is whatever your salesperson needs to help win and keep customers
- Protect your team from anyone in the organization that takes them off task
- Find a way to make room on your team for the superstar that becomes available, even when you don’t have the budget
Whether you manage one or 20 sales people, think about how these gems might improve your results. Implementing might require some cultural and operational shifts, but the results will be worth the heavy lifting.
What have I missed? Please, share your success secrets with our community.| Categories: B2B Sales Strategy, Culture, Growth, Leadership, Sales, Sales Performance
Tags: business development, revenue generation, sales, sales leadership, sales management, SMART goals