I’ve seen plenty of fresh new sales managers struggle with getting a grip on their management role within the business. Even the more experienced leaders sometimes fail to distinguish between productive sales management and lethal micro management that suffocates the personality-driven power of salespeople. I think it’s important for everyone in the sales industry to know the difference and to know when management is a contribution and when it’s nothing more than a burden.
Drawing the line
Let’s get the distinction sorted out right from the start. What is really the difference between being a manager with attention to individuals, and being a micro-managing overseer, and why does it make so much difference?
Micromanagement is the result of a lack of trust towards your sales team’s capabilities. Making up rules, deciding on how your salespeople should behave and plan their day while obsessively tracking and reviewing their results reeks of trying to put quantity on top of quality, which hardly ever brings good results. Plus, it’s fertile ground for some very unpleasant emotions.
For effective management you don’t need to be a slave driver — which is a role many managers willingly take upon themselves, thinking that their teams won’t function otherwise. But nothing could be farther from the truth. You can’t expect a dog sleigh to win a race when you hold the restraints too tight. Yes, they will listen to your every word and do exactly as you say, but they will never lead you to victory. On the other hand, if you have a firm hand when setting the rules, but then proceed to give them their fair share of freedom and the space to unleash their full potential (with the constant help of skilled training), your chances are much, much better.
Taking the leap
Now that we outlined the differences, we want to make sure to approach our management in the most productive and supportive way possible. We want to encourage confidence in our teams, and we want them to take responsibility and develop constantly, without useless strains and tensions. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
In order for your own superiors to be satisfied when looking at your team’s results, develop a tracking mechanism that will ensure that your salespeople’s goal pipeline is in direct alignment with the company’s sales plan. Brief your salespeople about the measuring procedures, so that everyone knows the rules and terms. That way, tracking will be out of the way for the most part, and you’ll be able to concentrate on the following two even more important aspects of management.
What is a salesperson’s greatest weapon? It’s their confidence. A great salesperson knows he or she is the master of their craft, has an unmissable, energetic and self-assured personality and is ready to take rejection at the blink of an eye.
Your role, among this pack of alpha personalities, is to be the square alpha who a) is capable of leading a meeting with 20+ such people in a room and get to the desired result and b) knows how to go around one-to-one, meeting with each and every one of them, knowing their personal lives as well as spotting and boosting their professional strengths.
You can be an excellent skier, but what value does that have if your skis are in a bad condition, or even worse, if you have no skis?
You want to make sure that your team has the freedom and confidence that we discussed earlier, and those two get supported by the best available tools to take the mundane parts off their daily routines as much as possible, in order to give them space to sell more. And let’s not forget training — individual, specialized training with emphasis on the salesperson’s results plays a huge role in delivering results. Make the time for each and every one of your people. This should be what you spend the greatest portion of your work doing. Do you?