How to Develop Your Sales Managers Before Developing Your Sales Strategy

BY Courtney Huckabay
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The Sales Experts Channel put together a panel of thought leaders to talk about developing sales managers. Here are a few highlights from the 45-​minute webinar. Definitely tune in to the recording for even more insights!

SalesFuel CEO C. Lee Smith asked the panel what the two most important jobs are for sales leaders. Suzanne Paling mentioned coaching and motivating; as well as holding people accountable. Jamie Crosbie felt like creating an environment for success and a high-​performance culture was important, and setting expectations of that culture so everyone knows what it takes to win rounded out her top two. Smith expressed communication as key – specifically communicating in a way that can be heard through active listening. Kevin F. Davis said coaching is critical. He also talked about a precursor for holding people accountable is that the leader defines the attitudes of greatness. Leaders ask themselves, "why is my top sales rep my best rep?" and then they share those skills with the entire team. The goal of coaching is to enable your people even when you’re not there.

Smith also wanted to cover the topic of how sales managers can improve their sales staffs or cultures. He led this discussion by referring to his Voice of the Sales Rep survey, in which respondents said their best managers cared about them. "Far and away the top trait of the best sales managers was caring," Smith said. "We had comments like: 'he helped me when I was down and every step along the way'." So, Smith recommended, "Don’t be afraid to be human. It doesn’t make you weak. Go ahead and open yourself up and show that you actually care about them as people."

Crosbie suggested that managers know their people's bigger-​picture reason for being there so managers can start relating to them. Davis kept it succinct and simple with, "coach somebody before noon every day." Paling recommended learning how to run an effective and motivating staff meeting.

A couple last-​minute questions from the audience did not get addressed during the webinar. "I may be a bit confused but it was said only 22% of salespeople said coaching helped? When you listen to coaches/​managers they always seem to give far higher stats?" the attendee asked. Smith follows up here in this post: "Coaches and managers THINK they number is WAY higher. They also think they’re doing more coaching than they are. In reality, many of them are actually only doing status checks. That’s why it’s imperative to get feedback from your team to truly develop as the best sales manager you can be."

Another participant asked, "Are there any books or articles you would recommend?" In addition to their own works, the panel recommends reading the following books:

Here are some final takeaways in case you missed the live webinar. "What’s one piece of advice sales managers never get, but desperately need?" Smith asked the panel.

  1. Davis: Get feedback from their salespeople on how they are doing as a sales manager. Ask your sales reps, "What are you getting from me that's most helpful?", "What am I doing that doesn’t help you at all?", "What can I start doing to help you more?" It's a two-​way street. Implement a culture of bidirectional feedback.
  2. Paling: So many managers tell me they’ve wanted coaching for so long but have been so afraid to ask. They need to learn to advocate for themselves.
  3. Crosbie: Invest in your growth as a sales leader to learn how to truly develop your team. We forget to invest in our own growth. Find a mentor. Find a coach. Read books. Listen to speakers. Never stop learning.