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It’s All About Leverage

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If there’s one mistake that I see new sales managers make most frequently, it’s this: treating your sales people like they’re you.

Actually, it’s not just sales managers, it’s most first-time managers in any field. This results in several problems. First, there’s a tendency to think everyone will do every task as well, or in the same way, as you. When that doesn’t happen (and it won’t) there’s a natural reaction to say “screw it, I’ll do it myself”. But you can’t do that. That way lies madness. I’ve seen it time and again, and the results are always the same. You’ll get overworked and burned out, because you’re doing jobs you should be delegating. The work will suffer. And most importantly, the team will suffer, because they won’t be sufficiently empowered. Second, there’s a tendency to think that each person wants to be managed the same way you wanted to be managed when you were the individual contributor. But guess what — everyone responds to management techniques and requirements differently. What you wanted, and would have worked best for you, may very well not be best for anyone on your team, let alone everyone.

Realize your role is now as a sales leader. This means shifting your focus to leveraging the strengths of the sales team and each individual salesperson. You have to think strategically and strive to understand each person on the team. Great sales managers know each person on their team is different and, therefore, manage accordingly to each person’s unique needs and opportunities.

If you can get this part right, you’ll have gone a long way to becoming a great leader. You need to understand the skills of every one on the team, the motivations of everyone on the team, how each person responds to praise and criticism, and how each person learns.

Then you need to set appropriate goals, help them achieve the things that will keep them motivated, and engage with them in the right way for them as an individual to develop their skills and become even better than they were when you hired them.

Sound like hard work? Sure. It is. But that’s why you sit in the big chair now.