How to be a Credible Sales Manager Your Team Trusts

BY Kathy Crosett
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In an ideal world, sales reps trust that their managers have their best interests in mind. They also believe their manager has the skills and training to guide the team to success. In truth, many managers fall short of what they hope to achieve. 

Do you know what steps to take to build trust and credibility internally?

Are You a Credible Sales Manager?

In some organizations, top reps move into a sales management position. Corporate leaders believe that because these reps excel at selling, they’ll also make great managers. Not true! They need a completely different skill set. 

Invest in training to ensure you’re bringing the right elements to your position. Taking the initiative to be trained shows you care about doing a good job and will increase your credibility with the sales team.

The Sales Reps’ Perspective

According to our research, sales managers can gain more trust from their reps by taking a few specific actions. Around 34% of sales reps believe their managers need to hold others accountable. 

People notice when a team member’s failure to complete a task negatively impacts a co-worker’s progress. If the sales assistant doesn’t finish the research a rep needs to complete a presentation on time, the manager should step in and offer coaching.

Assigning Leads

Your team members also want to feel comfortable about how you assign leads as a team leader. They believe, or think, they know which leads are likely to generate a big sale. Therefore, there is a positive bump in their variable pay. 

If one team member consistently receives great leads and brings home big bucks, their co-​workers will find fault with you — the manager. Up to 33% of sales reps believe assigning leads is one of their manager’s biggest weaknesses. To generate more credibility in this area, why not review how you assign leads?

Jay Fuchs at HubSpot notes that lead distribution usually involves “reps' regional knowledge, experience, seniority, overall performance, and current commitments to other deals. Other methods, such as “round robin,” distribute leads based on which rep is next in line.

However, these methods fail to consider whether a rep will fit the prospective customer well. You can determine which reps will work best with specific accounts reviewing the results of the psychometric assessments they've taken.

To increase your credibility as a sales manager with your reps in this area, maintain transparency. Explain your thinking instead of keeping lead assignments a mystery.

Continuous Coaching

Most of your reps know where they falter. Whether struggling to find new business or maintaining a good relationship with a big client after the deal closes, reps appreciate their manager's insights on how to improve. 

They might not conduct business exactly as you do, but they'll benefit from your advice. And your less experienced reps definitely need coaching, a task that takes significant time and energy. But if you allocate that most precious resource, your time, to helping them finesse their skills, the investment will pay off in their successes and growing loyalty.

Looking Ahead

In reviewing the history of successful sales managers, Gerhard Gschwandtner and Maryann Hammers believe, “The biggest and most challenging task of a sales manager is to prepare the sales team for the constantly changing marketplace.” 

Your reps are focused on their day-​to-​day activities and closing the leads you’ve assigned to them. They’re likely not looking at the future of the industry they’re selling in. But you should be. And that will require you to work efficiently and perhaps put in longer hours than your team members.

In our Voice of the Sales Rep survey, one sales professional remarked that the best manager they ever had “worked beside us all the time.” In other words, the manager was not out on the golf course, angling to improve their relationship with members of the C‑suite. 

By working as the leader of the team, the sales manager showed a positive attitude. They considered themselves a part of the team, and their reps noticed. At the same time, they could see the roadblocks their reps encountered and coach them to success.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.