Every sales manager wants to be the best leader that they possibly can be. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult goal to achieve. Many sales managers think they are doing all of the right things to increase sales, but their sales results show that they are producing stagnant or even negative results.
There is always room to improve as a sales manager, and recognizing this is a significant step forward in improving your skills. It is important to assess where you need to make your own personal changes, and also to figure out how you can improve your sales culture, improve your sales team, and in general grow and develop the business for which you manage sales.
In this article we will discuss several different ways that you can improve your sales manager skills and lead your sales team to increased sales.
It doesn’t matter how many different techniques you implement if you aren’t consistent in their implementation. If you frequently change methods and you are inconsistent in your managerial tasks, your sales team will not be able to take you seriously as it becomes clear that not following your processes does not have consequences. When sales representatives follow your procedures consistently, which they can only do if you remain consistent, you will see more effective sales calls and increased sales. It is also important to always check in on the results that you are getting, and make appropriate small, incremental changes that you clearly communicate to your sales team.
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’m going to be more organized,” and have only had success in the short term, you are not alone. Many sales managers have made incredibly elaborate plans to keep themselves and their sales team organized, but then discarded their system in hectic and stressful times. Unfortunately, as a sales manager, your organization is more important to your team’s productivity than anyone else’s general behavior. While keeping up with your inbox will help, it is even more important to offer your sales team the proper training at the correct time, that you build and maintain a healthy sales pipeline, and you recruit and hire great sales representatives to add to your sales team. Remaining organized will help you to complete your sales manager responsibilities on time, which keeps your entire sales team, as well as the business at large, running smoothly and moving forward in increasing sales.
Healthy competition within your sales team will promote better performance. Make sure that the competition is friendly and transparent; the last thing you want to do is create a culture of underhanded activity. A sales leader-board is an excellent example of a tool that encourages open, honest, and friendly competition. A whiteboard or a large screen television that features the names of the top performers encourages representatives to vie for a spot on it. The most important point here is to work with the naturally competitive nature of a sales representative without creating a negative sales culture. Competition is great, but keep it positive and fun.
You may be the sales manager, but it is important to listen to the ideas of your sales representatives. While you spend time doing managerial tasks, your team is always making sales calls and interacting with potential buyers. They may have excellent ideas about increasing conversions from leads to sales. The more brain power that is actively working towards improved results, the better your results will be. Additionally, by remaining open to suggestions, you are encouraging creativity and sales experimentation, which makes your sales team stronger.
Agile teams exist and prosper not only in sales but also in technology and retail. Being an agile team means that you can adapt to the results you are seeing and implement the proper changes with little to no disruption. It is important that as a sales manager you are flexible so your team will also be flexible. You must always be analyzing and adapting to results as they relate to your customer profile, sales call cadence, and your company’s value proposition. It is important to keep in mind that you must adapt and change based on hard data, and not at your whim.
One of the biggest challenges that a sales manager faces is getting their team enthusiastic about selling. As a sales manager you have two clients: upper management and your sales team. Keeping your sales representatives focused on their careers and the benefits to be gained by a successful sales career will encourage them to perform better. Working with your sales team in this way will allow you to impress your other client -- upper management. A sales team that is 100 percent committed to increasing sales will garner better results and be overall more productive.
A sales team that is willing to take risks and fail will perform much better than a sales team that fears failure and plays it safe. Teams that are willing to fail are more willing to continue pushing the limits of their success streaks, which allows them to succeed even further. A sales team that fears failure will back away from challenges that they see as too big to accomplish, while a team that actively seeks failure steps up to the plate and does what they can to succeed. The difference is playing to win instead of playing not to lose.
As a sales manager, you are a coach. The best sales managers start their coaching with the on-boarding process. They make sure that new members of their sales team are quickly and efficiently brought up to speed and continually test, in a low-pressure way, that their team understands what they have learned. As a coach and manager, you need to regularly be providing constructive feedback and engage in role-playing with your team. Even your most experienced team members require ongoing coaching to be their very best. It is important that you challenge their idea of the status quo on a regular basis so that they continue to work to improve their performance.
Becoming a better sales manager will not happen overnight. As mentioned earlier, consistency is key. You need to make sure that you implement these principles in a steady, sustainable manner so that you can maintain all of these practices over time.
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