How do you know that a sales manager is a good one? You look at his team’s numbers, because that’s the first and clearest measure. In sales, numbers are everything and everyone gets measured by and rewarded for them. A good salesman builds up a full and smoothly moving pipeline: as many leads as possible processed into deals that lead to a close, and ideally continuing in the form of a long-term business relationship, depending on the company’s strategy. And actually, this all makes perfect sense, until you realize you’re no longer a salesman yourself, but a sales manager.
Now, as a sales manager you stand on the top of the hill, overseeing the work of your salespeople. And it’s important that you embrace the fundamental change of your job description. This change mainly concerns your responsibilities and your own role in getting the results up.
When you’re a salesman, you’re like a hunter in the wild — you set out on your own to obtain sustenance and to bring something back, contributing to a bigger profit for all. That’s also what eats your whole workday up (and let’s be honest, often it’s even more than that). Your catch is your portfolio.
For a sales manager, this equation doesn’t work the same. A manager’s portfolio is the total catch of the whole team. For some, this fact is too frustrating to handle and they try to boost their team’s performance by taking on sales themselves. But as a manager, you are not paid for selling. You are paid for making others sell, and making them do it well. To make good numbers, you have to give it all your time, and as a manager, there’s no way you can give it the time of day to really perform well in sales and be a good manager at the same time. This is the core of a sales manager’s role that’s so important to keep in mind.
Here’s some simple advice for all the sales managers out there: don’t paralyze your team by jumping into their sales and trying to raise the revenue by force. The only thing you’ll get out of that will be unnecessary nerves and tension in the workplace.
Instead, try focusing your efforts on approaching each and every one of your employees individually, and look with them at how they’re performing and what could be done to uplift their numbers. I’ve written more about how to tackle this in one of my previous posts about educating and motivating your salespeople.
Look for ways to help your team perform better. Find everyone’s individual strengths and weaknesses and work on them together. Provide tools and training for better time management and customer service, offer guidance and build a foundation for developing and executing effective selling strategies. There’s so much you can do, your options just start there. Get involved, but in the right way.
A sales manager is only as good as his team; this is a credo that I’d have carved in stone. Revenue production is the ultimate goal of both you and your team, but it’s only your team’s job to produce it. Your job is to oversee, improve and maintain the highest production quality possible. Once that relationship is established, you’ll see what the sales manager’s position is really about, and it’s certainly not about reported data analyses or wasting your time at endless meetings making up strategies for better performance. No: it’s out there, working with the people, helping them reach the top of their potential at what they do. Only that way will you get the best performing team of the best people, making their, and ultimately your own, numbers grow. And that’s a win-win, if you ask me.