Sales management is one of the most difficult jobs out there. Your responsibilities span the organisation — along with the VP or director of sales, you’re working with people in Product, Marketing, HR, and so on.
Most importantly, managers are responsible for the individual and collective success of their salespeople. Rallying reps to hit their targets is no easy task, especially when every team member is motivated by different things.
If you want to succeed in this role, adopt these key habits of great sales managers and schedule your week wisely.
Sales managers are responsible for the individual and collective success of their salespeople on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. They do so, by hiring top talent, retaining existing A-players, and leveraging activity to drive results.
Here are the key elements and activities a sales manager should focus on throughout the workweek.
1. Shadow your team every day.
As a sales manager, you have an infinite number of things you could be doing. However, you should make time to shadow your reps each and every day. Why is this activity critical?
First, you can observe and then pass on best practices. Your top-performing salespeople might not know exactly what they’re doing to be so successful. But since you’re spending time with everyone, you can pick up on common trends and successful behaviours.
Second, shadowing your team lets you catch issues immediately, rather than several weeks or months down the line when they’re not hitting their numbers.
Third, you’ll save precious time in pipeline reviews. You won’t need the same amount of explanation or context as when deals are completely foreign to you.
Fourth, it tells your sales team that your biggest priority is their success. They’ll reward you with their loyalty, commitment, and respect.
2. Always be recruiting (ABR).
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting to recruit until you’ve got an open spot on your team. Every day that position isn’t filled, you’re falling behind. Many managers end up settling for someone mediocre because they don’t have time to find a great candidate.
To avoid this issue, make regular time for recruiting, no matter what your headcount is. Go to networking events, ask your contacts for referrals, interview salespeople, add connections on LinkedIn, and so forth. You’ll have a ready pipeline of potential reps when the time comes.
Consistently recruiting also encourages your current salespeople to keep working hard. After all, they’ll know they can be replaced if they stop getting results.
3. Be obsessive about your time.
Time management is huge in this role. In fact, many sales managers are specifically trained in managing their time.
If you have an open-door policy, I’d get rid of it immediately. Schedule “office hours” when anyone can drop by your desk or send you an email and get a response.
For separate questions or requests, tell your reps to book time on your calendar. This will free up hours of your schedule. Rather than pestering you with every issue that comes up, your salespeople will only present the most important ones. They’ll figure out the minor questions on their own or wait until office hours.
If you currently use a chat tool, shut it off for one week. Then review how efficient you were. I guarantee you’ll get more done.
4. Be a micromanager…. Well sort of.
Micromanagers often get a bad name in business but as a sales manager, you need to know what’s happening on your sales floor so you can effectively make decisions.
Your sales team needs a leader, one that doesn’t sit back and watch their team do all the work. And your leadership in 1-2-1 meetings and on the sales floor will show them you’re there for them, to advise and coach.
This will also alert you to issues at their start. If you’re not paying close attention to your reps and their activities each day, you might miss important details that could help you address an issue before it gets out of hand.
5. Always include a time frame and goal.
Great sales managers always include time frames and goals when they introduce new ideas and strategies to their team.
For example, let’s say a sales manager’s priority is for their team to be proficient in the product. They have an idea to set up a lunch-and-learn session with their sales team and the product manager who explains the product to the reps in detail.
If they have one lunch without any clear goals and takeaways for the lunch, the team will question the purpose. Why should they take time out of their schedule for meetings like this in the future?
Instead, the sales manager could present the sessions to their team like so:
“We’re going to have lunch-and-learn sessions with the product manager for [product name] so we understand the product we’re selling. We’ll start out with two sessions over the next month, then we’ll evaluate what you’ve learned and see if we should continue this programme.”
Setting clear timelines and goals will help you roll out strategies effectively, and your team will take you more seriously because you follow through on your ideas.
Implement these habits into your sales management routine, and you’ll see the difference in your team’s performance
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