Sales management is a tough job.
I googled why sales managers fail and got “About 206,000,000 results (0.40 seconds).” “About 60% of new managers fail within the first 24 months in their new role”, according to research from CEB Global.
There are a lot of reasons (just ask Google), but it often comes down to not knowing how to manage people effectively and not being able to implement changes and improve the selling process.
Simply put, to be successful as a sales manager, you must understand people and how to help people sell.
Know Your Sellers
Before you can effectively coach a team, you have to know them. Not just their names and whether they are a dog or cat person, but their talents.
What are their strengths, and how can you help them make the most of those strengths? And what are their weaknesses, and how can you work around them?
To do this, you first need to review each person’s Sales Talent Assessment. Make time to sit down with a talent analyst, find out where they are gifted and struggle, and take notes on how to coach up their talents.
The most successful sales managers have strong self-insight. They know their strengths and weaknesses and have learned how they relate to team management.
Think about the traits and talents that you work well with within your team and those that you simply can’t work with. Is curiosity a must-have, or an annoyance? What about a strong ego? Do people need to be assertive to stand up to you, or do assertive people rub you the wrong way?
Ask your leader for your top five talents.
Next, consider how those talents work for you or trip you up. Having access to 360 coaching can help you see if the people who work with you see you using your talents or tripping over them.
Build your must-have list of talents that you work well with, or that shore up your soft spots and look for those on your team and in new hires. And if someone on your team frustrates you, and you don’t know why, schedule talent feedback with a talent analyst to dig into that person’s assessment. Likely, you will find the source of that frustration and how to work around it.
Know Your Team
It's vitally important to know your team as individuals, but it's also important to understand them as a group.
Schedule a team composite review to understand better the makeup of your team. Do you have a group of strong competitors? Find ways for them to compete and win daily. If the group isn’t competitive, leaderboards and individual competitions may not be motivating, but competing as a group might strengthen their bond as a team.
What if one person on the team is curious and asks tons of questions, while the rest of the team rolls their eyes and gets annoyed? Understanding your Learner's motivations and how to help satisfy their need for information while not making the rest of the team feel like they are wasting time can make team meetings smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.
Coach Them Up
Successful sales managers coach.
There is no other option.
So, think first about what aspects of coaching you enjoy most. Create a plan to do more of that coaching and put it on your calendar. Next, are there aspects you don’t love? Again, make a plan, put it on your calendar, and don’t allow yourself to reschedule or put it off.
When you see positive behavior, make sure to commend and celebrate at the moment. And if correction is needed, don’t put it off until their next review. Think about how you want the conversation to go and the behavior change they need to make, and then get it done. Experts recommend delivering positive or negative feedback within 72 hours of observed behavior.
Have a Clear Message
Having a clear, concise, actionable, and positive message is vital to a sales team. Do you have a plan when an initiative is being rolled out, or changes need to be made? Treat your sales meetings like a client meeting. What is your Valid Business Reason (VBR)?
What is in it for your team when they get on board with a new product or service? What is your specific business goal? What are you trying to get them to agree to? And what steps are you taking to get from VBR to agreement?
Planning out how you want this sales meeting to go will give you and your team a plan for success.
Quarterly, or as often as necessary, review your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are important, but they must be kept to a reasonable number. You may monitor a lot of stats but narrow down to the most important 5 for your team. Each seller on your team should know exactly what numbers they are responsible for as well as how each rank in priority.
Does everyone on your team know what their priorities are on an average day? Managers are often surprised when they have a conversation with a seller about daily priorities and realize that the seller’s priorities and theirs are way out of line. Regularly make sure you and your sellers are in tune with priorities.
It’s a Tough Job, But Someone Has To Do It
Managing a sales team is tough, but few things are as rewarding as taking an underperforming sales team and turning them into a team of winners.