I recently had the opportunity to be a part of our Talent Focused Management workshop, which is designed to help managers develop and coach their sales teams by identifying individual talents, providing guidance and developing coaching based on the defined talent and proven tactics to increase overall performance.
From that workshop, here are the top 5 things great managers will do to help turn their talented sellers into performers:
1. Reset your priorities!
Let's face it. It's too easy to let 'fires' distract you from what is most important as a manager. Coaching and developing your sellers is imperative to increasing sales performance. Sure, you need to approve orders, take part in strategic meetings and handle challenges with really important clients but if you let those things consistently get in the way of developing your people, you will find yourself missing more than just budgets. You may find your best sellers leave for greener pastures! Make it a point to designate the time for coaching and development.
2. Recruit and select the right talent for your organization.
Whether you have a sales team of 20 or a sales team of 2, you owe it to yourself to be consistently recruiting top talent and depositing them into your talent bank. Reports differ, but conservatively speaking, it can cost you 1.5 times the annual salary to replace an employee. It also costs you a lot of production! Lose sleep before you hire, and not after, by having a rich talent bank. When the time arises, you will have a great resource to select great sales candidates to chose from.
3. Manage people individually.
Since everyone has their own set of unique talents, coach the individual and not just the team. Give individual sellers your undivided attention on a regular basis and illustrate your understanding of how they work best and how you can help them grow. This builds trust. One manager at the workshop described how a seller of his will jump through windows and rob cars when asked. Obviously, this was in jest but makes a great point. This is only accomplished when a seller trusts you—and managing individually is a step in the right direction. Think about how much easier this makes YOUR life when you can count on your people to produce.
4. Focus on developing your sellers' strengths and talents.
The only way you can effectively develop your sellers' strengths and talents is by observing. A Sales Talent Interview will give you insight into their talent, but in the field is where you can see them apply it. This can be done in the field or even when managing remotely. Set up infield days regularly so you can see your sellers in action, but don't spring this on them. Allow them time to plan a productive day. If you are managing remotely, ask to be part of conference calls or be included on an email thread. This too should not be asked for on a whim, but make it a regular, planned occurrence.
5. Work on your Big Rocks first.
Great management begins and ends with YOU, so take time to strategize what being a great manager looks like for yourself. A Big Rock may be, "Learn more about motivating already successful sales people," or "Get better at filling my Talent Bank." Whatever the big rocks are, they need to be given the time and attention to be accomplished. Consider adding steps to fulfilling your big rocks to your calendar so they are not forgotten, or solicit YOUR manager in helping keep you on track with your big rocks.
While you still have to tend to the day-to-day of what being a manager for your organization means, make sure you are fulfilling the day-to-day of what being a manager for your sellers is, too. It'll mean more to them in the long run, and consequently more to you, too.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published May 10, 2012 and has been updated.