Whether you have recently found yourself thrust into a managerial position or are simply looking to improve upon the knowledge acquired over the years, there are a few pointers on how to be a good sales manager that are applicable to both sides.
Now normally people think you have to be either one of the following:
- “Demanding” managers, those whose organizations generally seem to win while the people lose out. They are profit-driven, figures of pride, authority and even fear as they conduct their weekly sales meeting.
- “Nice” managers, those whose organization’s needs are perhaps laxed for the good of the “people”. Those who report to them tend to say they are good managers. Kind, caring and supportive. The kind of manager you feel comfortable going to in a time of need. However, those sat in the boardroom chairs have their doubts.
The truth is, both are right and both are wrong. Good sales managers ensure both the people and the business profit by adopting a middle ground and it’s this ground we are going to dicuss today.
3 Steps on How to Be a Good Sales Manager
How to Be a Good Sales Manager: Setting Goals
Empowering sales reps to manage their own goals. Instead of setting the goals for your team, try listening first. Ask them questions such as:
- You’re 50K from hitting quota, which accounts would you focus on over the next month?
- Why did you pick these 5?
- Which actions should be taken across each of these accounts?
When each individual knows exactly what they need to focus on, what their responsibilities are and what you will hold them accountable to, you’ll find they become a lot more productive.
It might even be a good idea to get your sales team to write their goals out. That way, each time they are completing a task it can be cross-checked against their weekly/monthly goals to determine whether it’s worthwhile or not. If not, encourage them to redirect their energy elsewhere.
There are tools available specifically designed to implement and manage field sales team goals. GoalManager allows managers to break down overarching sales goals into smaller, daily or weekly challenges on a visual dashboard for each individual sales representative. Being able to visually track your goals is said to increase sales by more than 20%. With tools like GoalManager you can:
- Assign and measure personalized KPIs for members of your team.
- Visualize your goals and those of your team.
- Encourage them to be more proactive by setting their own individual goals.
- The system can be scaled for sales teams of any size.
Goal setting is so, so important. I mean, how can you be an effective manager unless you and your team are clear about goals and what good performance looks like?
How to be a Good Sales Manager: Positive Feedback
“People who feel good about themselves, produce good results.”
This statement from The One Minute Manager has been one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. Why?
Because it’s just so, darned, true!
Everybody loves being told they’re doing a great job. It gives us all a little lift no matter how small or insignificant the task might be. Anything from a token gesture for doing the washing up at home or the boss acknowledging the fact you stayed an extra 15 minutes after work to help finish off a project. It all makes us feel that little bit better.
So the next time a member of your field team closes a difficult sale, let them know. Or if they handled a particularly tough buyer objection, well, explain to them why you’re so impressed. What exactly did they do that helped lift your mood?
As you well know, everybody likes their ego stroked every now and again, and why not? It doesn’t take much on your part.
Now flip the coin and ask yourself would it be the same with negative feedback?
“Why didn’t you send that email to Mike yesterday?”
“Why didn’t you update the CRM from the TJ. Smelt deal?”
“Didn’t you think to at least upsell the new plug-in that was in the memo from the last meeting?
“I think you should have closed that opportunity…”
Nobody likes being told they’re doing a bad job. It makes me feel like crap just reading through all these responses.
But clearly mistakes are going to happen; it’s the way of going about informing the team that matters most.
For example, if an error has been made, make them aware of it. Neither you, the team or the business can afford them, and they need to know that. But immediately follow it up with some positive reinforcement. It stops them from getting on the defensive and helps them realize that they’re still an integral part of the team.
It also helps in building confidence. If they know they’re making the right decisions (the majority of the time, at least) the next time they come up against an objection, they are going to be confident in their ability to deal with it themselves. Not only does this allow them to grow professionally but it saves you, the manager, a big headache too.
How to be a Good Sales Manager: Trust in Your Team
Being a good sales manager means trusting in the ability of your team. By getting them to question why (x) action will solve (y) problem you are teaching them how to find their own solutions to achieve their own goals.
Let’s say one of your field sales members calls you about a deal that’s going south. The client is dragging their feet over signing on the projected deadline due to price, causing your rep to get a little panicky over hitting target for the quarter.
The conversation may go something like this:
“Alan (that’s you) it’s Judith (that’s your rep) do you remember that deal with the big construction company, ENUH, that we went over in my funnel last week? Well Richard (that’s the client) isn’t budging unless we half the price. I really need your help!¨
YOU “That bloody Richard is a (line through) No worries Judith, this happens all the time. Tell me, what are you thinking about doing?”
JUDITH “Well, what about dropping the price of each license?”
YOU “You could, but then you are severely undercutting the value of the product, right? And missing out on a big potential sell. What else could you try?” you ask.
JUDITH “Hmm. I could try pointing out how much revenue they are missing out on by not choosing our system, but I already tried that…”
YOU “OK Judith, so you’ve seen slashing the price and reiterating product value aren’t effective solutions, so what else could you try that might encourage him to sign?”
JUDITH “What about including a product upgrade? We could include the (x) and (y) software packages increasing the value of the deal without having to cut price.”
YOU “Bingo! That is definitely a viable solution. You see Judith, you didn’t need my help after all!¨
You must start by following up your talk with action. Earn your team’s respect. If you have scheduled a meeting, be there, on time. Don’t turn up 5-10 minutes late; it looks bad and reflects poorly on you as a manager. How to be good sales manager depends on your ability to ensure your team understands what success looks like, leaving you time to focus on some of the more numbery things, which we’ll take a look at next week.