Sales management is a tough job and it’s the one that can see you be a hero very quickly or looking for a new job in record time.
During a recent interview, we did top businessman Neil Franklin hehe states “I would love to see the word “management” replaced by “leader” because if you are managing something, then it gives the impression of being process-driven and there is nothing wrong with that…but because there is a much higher expectation of results in sales management, I would love the focus to switch to leadership and that is tip #1:”
#1. Be a “leader” and stop managing – you need to lead from the front and show your salespeople that you can do yourself, what you expect from them.
There is nothing worse as a salesperson than having a sales manager breathing down your neck and throwing out endless statistics of what is not working and why the team results are under par.
Lead from the front and be prepared to do the job for the salesperson and there is a good reason for this:
You are a sales leader for a reason, and you should be better than any member of your team and they need to learn from your experience first-hand, plus, it is in the interests of the company that the deal is won and you are the best person to win that deal.
#2. Coach – from a position of leadership it is easy to coach and that means operating like a coach of a soccer team, for example, get involved, share your knowledge and take members of your team from where they are to where they want to be.
You have to roll-up your sleeves and show willingness.
Each member of your team will respect you for this.
#3. Set clear expectations – there is nothing worse than having a leader that does not effectively communicate what is expected and not only for the whole team, but each individual.
You will have targets that are set from above and you must break this down and ensure that each person has a realistic target and it is broken down into components.
Let’s say that you need a salesperson to do one-million dollars of sales each year – it is clear that you will need around 100K per month and that will give you some comfort for vacations etc.
You may get pushback from the salesperson that deals are closing on a quarterly basis and the results may come in during the last month.
But that doesn’t mean there should be a lack of activity in the first two!
Breaking things down into component parts, allows you to measure more effectively and also to keep a handle on activity.
Then put together a team target, with a focus on incentivizing over-performance.
#4. Make sure you are communicating regularly with the top – your executive leadership team may have a different perspective on the results you are expected to bring in and many leaders are sadly out of touch with reality and have too high an expectation of sales performance.
The only way to make sure your expectations are real is to have reliable data to back up what you believe.
It is much better to go head-to-head with your bosses and provide real data to back up your claims, than for them to have to explain to irate shareholders as to why targets have not been met.
You have to be strong in your beliefs, but you must also back them up.
#5. Remember there is a target on your head as well – just because you are a manager or leader, doesn’t mean that you don’t have a quota by your name.
The absolute minimum contribution for a sales manager is to cover their costs and that means all of the ancillary costs as well – those expenses, hotels and meeting room costs have to be covered and in fact, any direct cost relating to sales.
Good sales managers have these factored into targets and place a performance (profit) target on their heads as well.
Stop managing and start leading!
You can read more about sales techniques and how to become a good salesman at Neil Franklin’s blog.