Every fresh year offers a great opportunity for a fresh start. Scanning the past results of your sales team, finding patterns and pitfalls, and tweaking your current strategy or building a whole new one based on the collected data while keeping up with new trends and technologies is what the New Year is about. But it’s not just that. It’s not difficult to come up with improvements in theory; it’s much more difficult to make it work with your sales team. That’s why one of the most important tasks of a sales manager during this time of changes and adjustments is building a strong and reliable support net for your sales team. That way, everyone will be on the same page and your sales results will grow right from the start.
Be open about mistakes.
One of the biggest signs of being a good leader is the ability to admit a mistake (your own or your team’s), open it up in front of everyone and give everyone the opportunity to learn from it. Making mistakes is completely natural and acceptable, for a sales rep or a sales manager. Not making the same mistake twice however is a result of a certain learning process coming from experience, that you as the manager are in charge of. Learning to work with mistakes will make you a great leader, not only because it will improve your learning capacity, it will also make it easier for your team to talk to you about their own mistakes without fear.
Learn from your best deals.
Old but gold, the biggest lessons one can learn are those from the biggest sales one has closed in the past. It’s a part of composing your sales strategy for the new year, but it’s also a great source of general tips for your sales team. What do the biggest clients have in common? What is their spending pattern? Which techniques worked on them and which not? Can we filter out the leads with similar profiles and concentrate on them?
Lead your team to learn about their clients on a personal level, because that’s the best way to get to know the market.
Watch out for performance indicators.
The holidays are still resonating in the air, and that’s completely understandable. However, there’s a difference between needing a few days to get back on track and not being able to keep up with the goals and workload in the long term. As a seasoned manager you should be able to spot the serious issues before they actually get serious, and approach your employee with a solution. Set a time frame, and if it doesn’t work, let them go. There’s a difference between taking the time to coach people to get better, and wasting time to get someone to perform on an average level. That’s a waste of resources for both sides.
Be sensitive and approachable.
On the other hand, it’s important for a leader to remember that we’re all people, and sometimes life puts us under circumstances that we just can’t control (death in the family, serious illness, divorce, etc…). Take that into account when evaluating a salesperson’s performance, and if you see it’s a temporary issue, provide them with space and/or individual tools to help them get back on track.
To put it simply: don’t be a prick, and give the people a chance to approach you with sensitive issues that may influence their working performance without you firing them on the spot for a lasting underperformance.
Build upon transparency.
Transparency and information accessibility is not just vital for your company’s finances, but also for your department’s activities. Allowing people access to the results of their department as a whole, creating motivational programs based on individual performance that’s accessible to everyone, the pipeline, the amount of time spent doing various work-related things, the number of successful sales, daily schedules – everything should be on display. Including your own activities. Transparency helps to build trust and adds to a healthy level of motivation and competitiveness.