How many times have you heard someone say, “I love my boss or I love my sales manager?” I would venture to guess you could probably count on one hand the number of times you’ve heard this proclamation.
True Story: I was blessed to have a sales manager in the early stage of my career who made such an impact on my sales performance, my life, how I view myself, and how I view others, that I would stand in front of a bus for him… even though I haven’t worked with him for nearly 10 years! He was affectionately known by many as “The Candy Man” because he drew people into his office by keeping a fully stocked bowl of candy on the corner of his desk.
'He liked people, he liked to talk with people, and he liked to help people… especially his salespeople.'
Here are 9 Idiosyncrasies of sales managers we love!
- They truly care – they genuinely want their salespeople to be successful in sales and in life! Salespeople on their team are not just a number or a means to hit their budgets; they’re people they genuinely care about. They treat each person like an individual and they take the time necessary to get to know everyone on their team to learn their goals, aspirations, strengths and shortcomings.
- They are great motivators – because they take the time to get to know their salespeople and learn what makes them “tick,” they know what drives them and thus how to effectively push them to strengthen their performance... day after day, month after month, and year after year
- They are mentors and coaches – they regularly provide their salespeople with valuable feedback, ideas and tactics to help them strengthen their sales performance. And, they make themselves available for their team when they need to bounce ideas or get a second opinion.
- They are NOT micro-managers – loved managers are not dictators and they don’t bark orders. They don’t tell their salespeople how to plan their day, whom they should call on, when they should schedule meetings, or how they must write proposals. Instead they trust their salespeople to follow company policies and uphold their responsibility to do their job. They allow their salespeople to meet budgets and build their business “their way,” the way they know how to be successful. In essence, they understand the value and power of being suggestive rather than prescriptive.
- They are on the front line - when a situation that requires an executive decision, or approval from another department arises, they take great pride in their responsibility to “push things through” or “make it happen.” Of course not every off-the-wall idea gets approved, but many do… and that’s because they know when to fight for their salespeople AND they have the power to influence decisions because they’re trusted and valued by their leadership team.
- They give praise and recognition – great sales managers know the importance and value of regularly affirming their salespeople. High performing salespeople work hard “in the trenches” and they need recognition from their manager. They want their manager to celebrate their success with them… whether it’s because they meet or exceed budget, or bring in a new client, or develop a smart solution to a complex problem, or because they demonstrate proficient product knowledge (the list goes on), sales people need praise and recognition from their sales manager… regularly! Great sales mangers find joy in giving praise when warranted.
- They are not afraid to sell – there are times when a sales person needs their manager to roll up their sleeves, interface with prospects and get involved with the sales process to help them close business. Often times this is necessary when a prospect needs a solution to an incredibly sophisticated and complex problem, or when a prospect is a whale and could quickly become a key account. In these instances, the sales manager is delighted to partner with the sales person to offer expertise and support throughout the process. They don’t abandon their salespeople and they don’t make excuses for not being available.
- They invest in their salespeople – great sales managers know turnover is expensive and high performing salespeople are hard to find. They invest time and resources to further develop and grow their salespeople. High performing salespeople have an innate hunger to continually grow and strengthen performance; great managers recognize that and feed their appetite for knowledge.
- They focus on strengths and manage weaknesses – there is a book, “Soar with Your Strengths,” written by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. It seems every great sales manager has read this book and applied its principles. In a few words, managers we love have learned how to identify their sales people’s innate talents (or strengths) and are able to help them effectively use those strengths to propel their sales performance. They don’t focus on how to “fix” weaknesses; rather they find ways to effectively manage weaknesses so they don’t negatively affect performance. The Center for Sales Strategy also teaches these principles in Talent Focused Management.
Managers who become loved by their salespeople are an incredible force within the organization because they have the power to effectively motivate their team and drive revenue! Salespeople will work harder for managers they love and they will put up with more company “nonsense” for managers they love. The converse is also true, sales managers who have not earned the respect and admiration of their sales team cannot effectively motivate them nor do they have the ability to maximize revenue. They typically experience high turnover and inconsistent sales performance.
Knowing what it’ s like to work with managers who really care about their salespeople and their development is an incredible gift. People who have experienced working with great sales managers know this first hand and could quickly identify all the sales managers they loved working for. Throughout my career I have been blessed to have three sales managers I love working for. One was “The Candy Man” and I’m thrilled to say I currently work with the other two!
How many sales managers have you loved to work for throughout your career? And why did you love them?
Share your experience with us and let’s keep this conversation going.
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Demrie Henry is a Performance Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.