Management equals responsibility. There are many things that you as a sales manager are responsible for, but one of the key aspects, the one that demonstrates how well you are doing as a manager in the first place, is your sales team’s performance. Those numbers don’t seem like it, but they say absolutely everything about the workplace atmosphere, your employees’ relationship towards you, the choice of your management methods and much more. The information may not be direct, but when examined by an experienced eye, a good boss will be able to tell if you’re doing well or not by just looking at your reports.
We live in a time when performance is everything. And in business, it truly is. But let’s not forget the human aspect of business, because without it, there would be no business in the first place. Guiding your team to achieve better results therefore doesn’t need to be tilting against the windmills.
No place for short-sightedness.
Don’t get stuck on poking around in short term successes and failures. This may be tough, especially if you have a sales background yourself — as a sales rep, short term is the only term that matters. But to a manager, short term fluctuations should only serve as indicators of which paths to take and which not in the long term. Support your employees in getting better immediate achievements, but at the same time, it’s up to you to navigate these efforts to support a long-term growth trend.
Connect by vision.
No matter on which side of the argument you’re standing when it comes to Steve Jobs and his ways of working with people and asserting his vision, you all have to admit that his way got results. Building up a connected network of people rather than a hierarchy pyramid with fatal communication gaps is something every sales manager should strive for. A vision, ideally adapted and communicated by the company as a whole, should be the link between you, your superiors, your employees on all levels, and ultimately even your clients.
Training. Training. Training.
You will hardly ever find any text on being a great sales manager that wouldn’t have the word “training” in it at least four times. As you can see, I already filled the limit. But all jokes put aside, providing your people with high-quality and personalized training is one of the most valuable inputs you can provide for long-term results. The important thing is not to force anything on anyone. Talk to them, get to know their strongest sides, concentrate on each of the salesmen and give them their individualized boosts.
This will take some walking and observing from your side. But remember that giving your employees the time and space they deserve is a huge investment for the future.
Connect with marketing.
If your company’s marketing department is on a different floor, hell, even in a different building, this should in absolutely no way stop you and your team from constant and close-up cooperation. The goals of sales and marketing are very intimately intertwined, which can be used to the advantage of both — exchanging first-hand customer experience with the intel of the broad communication scope and targeting. The alignment will very likely result in the increase of filling the department’s quota while finding some new and fresh ways to sell. You’re only making the numbers lower if you aren’t teamed up with the marketing manager yet.
Motivate, then acknowledge.
Again, a very simple rule that delivers a surprisingly powerful message. Find ways to motivate your team. My two favorite motivation tools are motivation by challenge (e.g. offering a new territory or a package of leads for a certain achievement, or making everyone’s numbers visible, so that every salesman and saleswoman knows how they’re doing compared to their colleagues), and motivation by creating and maintaining a positive environment in the office. Now, I also feel that it’s essential to mention that the best results will come if both tools are utilized at the same time. If you don’t manage to keep them balanced, a too predatory or a too loose working atmosphere can do a lot of damage.
My final message for today will be: communicate. Talk to your superiors about their visions, talk to your employees about theirs, discuss advertising and selling strategies with colleagues from different departments, don’t be afraid to reach beyond the glass walls of your office. By putting yourself out there you’ll be setting a positive and motivational example to everyone around you. And that’s what being a good leader boils down to, after all.