by Terry Ledden, Managing Partner - Sandler Training
Managing a team of sales reps with various motivations and egos is no easy feat. And if you’re a sales manger, you know that it can be a complicated and sometimes challenging role that requires a number of management skills to be successful. At Sandler Training, we’ve discovered that highly effective sales managers possess a set of skills and characteristics that make them stand out from the rest.
So how do some sales managers continually lead successful and goal-oriented sales teams while others repeatedly hit roadblocks and obstacles?
Here are 10 management skills that set some sales managers above the rest.
They lead by example
Nothing builds and sustains credibility like a sales manager who leads by example. In order to keep a sales team performing, sales managers must lead by example and establish an environment that facilitates cohesion, confidence, and success.
They do more leading and less micro-managing
Too often sales managers rely on deadlines and metrics to drive performance, which can quickly turn into micro managing. Though metrics are important, effective sales managers understand how to work alongside their team members rather than over their shoulders. These sales managers seek to mentor their sales reps and tweak motivation and reward tactics to align with individual preferences.
They know when to coach
The overarching goal of coaching is to make individuals and the team better. For sales managers, mastering the skill of coaching is particularly important. Highly effective sales managers realize that placing priority on coaching will build confidence among team members. Therefore, they seek opportunities to provide feedback that will make their sales reps better and don’t hesitate to drop everything to help sales reps solve problems.
On the other hand, great sales managers also recognize when sales reps don’t need or want to be coached and leave them alone to do their high-priority tasks.
They don’t over-complicate processes
Every team needs a sales methodology and goals to drive sales team performance. However, because highly regimented, complex sales methodologies can confuse sales reps, the process should only be as complex as it absolutely needs to be. An effective sales manager knows how to enable, explain, and support a sales process to make it easier for sales reps to understand and relate to without making the sales process feel like a strait jacket.
They communicate clear expectations
Sales teams work best when they know exactly what is expected of them and when deliverables are due. Though key performance indicators (KPIs) vary from company to company, sales reps should know exactly what happens when they meet expectations and what to expect when they miss. It is the responsibility of the sales manager to ensure their team fully understands expectations.
They pay attention to negative patterns
Highly effective sales managers think ahead and pay particular attention to team morale. These sales managers can recognize what small trends and negative patterns indicate before they become significant issues. By paying attention to small changes in sales reps’ performance, the sales manager can be proactive with coaching and mentoring before it is too late.
They choose their team carefully
Because sales managers rarely hire on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, developing impeccable hiring skills can be a challenge. However, great sales manager who can find and retain the right sales talent will improve team performance and sales results. Picking the sales team carefully means knowing how to leverage the strengths of high-performing outliers and when to coach up or part ways with under-performers.
They enable their team by protecting their time
Great sales managers practice good time management habits and eliminate demands for sales reps that don’t directly drive revenue. This makes the most of the sales team’s time and shows the team that their sales manager genuinely cares about and respects their time.
They can see the big picture
Sales reps are responsible for their own quotas and accounts, whereas sales managers must organize the whole team’s needs. Successful sales managers have the ability to step back and analyze the big picture before making decisions that will impact the entire team.
They look for ways to make it fun
Sales managers who genuinely care about the happiness of individuals on their team tend to get more from their sales reps. These sales managers understand the importance of showing appreciation and celebrating wins often. Making work fun boosts productivity and helps to alleviate the constant pressures that come with sales.