Mark Thacker makes the case for effective sales management. He maintains that the transition from being a sales professional to an effective sales manager is a whole new world. In “4 Tips for Succeeding as a New Sales Manager," Thacker speaks of his woeful lack of experience and training to handle the job. His situation illustrates the lack of understanding and intuition available to him in the early days of his sales management challenge. He also addresses a few dangerous sales leadership traps undermining sales success.
Sales management to improve your team: Common leadership traps to avoid
TRAP #1: Letting your emotions do the managing. Knee-jerk reactions are counterproductive. Instead, work from a value proposition that serves as a declaration of what your company stands for and aspires to be. Translate this into strategic plans with the support of all levels of the organization. Ensure the sales team understands and embraces the entire concept.
TRAP #2: "Setting the wrong goals." Unfocused and unrealistic goals are lethal. Thacker suggests using SMART goals: those with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely criteria. Check out your CRM data to see what’s really happening with customers and sales. And after you set large goals, help your reps break them into manageable targets they can achieve.
TRAP #3: Wanting to be the smartest person in the room. Reps tend to disrespect managers who think they know everything. You don’t. And they know it. Show your human side by asking key questions and challenging everyone to share their expertise. Don’t hesitate to take calculated, reasonable risks based on knowledge and experience. Empower your team members to try the same thing. Even if a strategic effort fails, you carry the important lessons with you to the next challenge.
It’s not enough for you to avoid the traps Thacker found himself in; you can also adapt and use the sales management tips he provides to improve your team.
Refine your team
Uncompromising assessment of your existing team is first on the list. Determine which members have the skills, attributes and cultural fit that contribute to the team goals. Identify the people who don’t have the necessary skills now, but with coaching and guidance could get to where you need them to be. You’ll be able to teach some skills and techniques, but to improve your results for the long term, use sales skills and psychometric assessments to look for candidates with passion, grit and drive.
Individuals must cultivate their own skills but you can help them figure out where to start. Conduct in-the-field observations to understand their talent, style and potential. Listen, watch and take note of training opportunities that you’ll later apply to help your team members succeed.
Time and again, we are reminded that a primary job of sales management is to remove barriers so your sales team can thrive. Every organization suffers from outdated policies, structure and framework. Figure out which ones are holding back your sales team and fix them. If your company has an old rule in place that limits the amount of training a rep can access, ask to have it removed.
One-on-one meetings with each individual provide adequate feedback opportunities and improve morale. The commitment of your time and attention demonstrates respect and emphasizes your recognition of their unique talents.
Falling into sales management traps can be frustrating and bewildering. Using the best sales management techniques to improve your team is essential. When you work from an inspired value proposition and surround yourself with an intelligent and insightful team, you have a strong platform for revenue growth.