How to Succeed at Sales Management
Watch the Numbers, Don’t Manage From Them
Many sales managers attempt to manage their team simply by looking at the team’s numbers. The manager constantly looks at how many opportunities are in the pipeline. They track the number of appointments, proposals and, of course, the number of sales made for the month. Then, the manager will attempt to hold their team accountable for maintaining some pre-determined level of results.
The problem is you can track numbers, but you can’t manage them. You can observe your team’s results but, by that point, there is nothing you can do about them. Worse still, numbers can be a poor indicator of actual growth and progress. Think about it: who makes more cold calls? The new insurance rep in his first year? Or the 20-year veteran closing 100 times more business than the rookie in sales revenue? More is not always better, especially when it comes to selling, prospects, and your pipeline.
Managing from results is like trying to drive while looking in the rear view mirror. By the time you realize your numbers are off, it is usually too late to do anything about it. Depending on your sales cycle, the business you are closing this month is a reflection of the work your team did 3-6 months ago. If you want to succeed at managing your team, you will need to look at leading indicators in their behavior. Get them focused on doing the right things, so they will succeed 3-6 months from now.
What are those leading indicators? It depends on your team, company and market place. I recommend you contact one of our local trainers. It could be the number of at-bats like cold calls, walk-ins, or networking events. It could be qualification of existing leads to make sure they have a problem you can solve, the money to spend, and a decision-making process you can work with. It really comes down to you, as the manager, to make sure your team is doing what they need to do moving forward in order to succeed and grow.
Nurture Winning Attitudes
It is also your job as the sales manager to make sure your team has the right attitude. Do you know what motivates your team? Do they know? Do they have written goals and a vision board in their office for what they want to achieve? If they don’t know what they want, it is also impossible for you, as their manager, to know. Chances are, each person on your team is unique and want a different level and type of success. Help them define it, and then help them stay motivated to do the behaviors necessary to achieve it.
Sales is a tough business. It is very likely that your salespeople will lose way more than they win. They will hear a lot more noes than they do yeses. It is very easy to become demotivated by a bad streak and enter a downward spiral. It is your job as their manager to help them keep their heads up and maintain consistent behavior. Help them see the only way to get the next hit is to keep swinging. Help them keep up their self-esteem, and reinforce that it is not personal. And never let them get emotionally involved in the sale, especially when prospecting.
Train the Techniques
Great salespeople are made, not born. Great sales managers know that good salespeople don’t have a secret power that others are missing. They understand that skills are learned and practiced, and each person on their team has the opportunity to keep learning and expanding on their current set of skills. Encourage both your high and low performers to keep growing. Hire for attitude and teach the skills necessary for success. Research has shown that success is not closely related to natural abilities, aptitude or talent, but rather lifelong learning and practice.
Abundance and Opportunity Will Always Outperform Limitation and Scarcity
Finally, your attitude as a leader, mentor, coach, trainer and sales manager will also greatly influence the results of your team. Successful sales managers know that an environment of fear and pessimism never allows for their team’s best performance. Salespeople who are empowered, motivated and encouraged to pursue opportunity and abundance will find ways to succeed where others never will. The reason is simple: when people see opportunity, they have more options. When they see limitations, they run into roadblocks that stifle growth, and they give up. Choose to motivate your team with abundance.
If you have read this far, you probably have the desire to succeed at sales management. Download our free whitepaper and learn 6 more ways to be an effective manager.