I was lately introduced to Kevin Davis, the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness, a fresh business reserve available on Amazon. Kevin is the President of TopLine Leadership, a sales management training company, and is an authority on the sales management topic. Kevin discovered 10 key traits of good sales managers, summarized below. He was kind enough to allow me to share them with everyone in this article.
1. Handling and leading a sales force take a different attitude from selling completely. I want to be a player. But sales managers aren’t put in the job to keep selling. They are put in the working job to allow them to help others end up being the best salespeople they could be. I’d rather close than coach. But that instinct for the chase and closing deals may lead us awry once we’re in general management.
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I’m very focused on getting stuff done. Not fast. A sales manager who is overly job oriented can spend too much time ensuring mundane to-do items have finished while overlooking the development needs of their salespeople. I don’t care how people get results, as they get results long. The single most common complaint from sales managers: “I don’t have time to coach.” In one company, 85 percent of the sales managers’ responsibilities were related to sales coaching. In interviews, this company’s regional sales managers said that in reality, none spent more than 10 percent of their own time coaching.
These managers, like the majority of sales managers, spend 90 percent of their time involved with activities unrelated to their highest priorities. Being able to deal with time (and therefore your priorities) effectively is a prerequisite for being a great sales team leader. You simply cannot achieve your full potential as a sales team leader if you may spend the bulk of your time in reactive mode-solving everyone else’s problems, keeping ineffective meetings, shuffling through papers, or working with any number of timewasters.
You need to be sure you have the required time to plan, trainer, measure, and manage. They are the priorities for sales management leadership. It really is impossible to hold less fully accountable for their performance unless there is a clear explanation of just what excellence should look like. High expectations that are well communicated to your team are an essential component of a high-performance culture. You will need a success profile that capture both the skills and wills necessary for success in your business, plus a third component: the performance standards you want to establish for sales results and activity levels.
When you are obvious about what areas need to attain, you can connect better with sales repetitions about what they need to do to improve. Address the fundamental dilemma all sales managers face, specifically that the best training in the world is not going to rescue somebody who is ill-suited for the job.
You have to judge not just the abilities and wills of likely candidates but their cultural fit and their coachability. While it’s true that some sales reps are naturals and likely will flourish in virtually all situations, those self-driven top performers are more the exemption than the guideline. Most areas require sales training to attain top skills and performance levels.
Every company has a sales process whether or not it’s formalized. Ideally, a sales process provides salespeople with a consistent, repeatable way to follow that leads to a higher possibility of sales success. But though many sales organizations think of themselves as customer-focused because they truly care about the client, their sales process is seller-focused. Further, their systems-sales models, CRM, funnel structure, and pipeline-are create to track merchant activities, not customer actions. What too few companies realize is that offering activities are an inaccurate metric of improvement because sales reps are so often out of sync with customers’ views.