What do great sales managers do differently from the merely good sales managers? How do they stand out from the crowd when the head hunters start looking around? When the recession bites, or when market dynamics go against them, how do they keep their jobs while all about them are losing theirs? Good sales managers come and go like buses. There’s always another just around the corner. But great sales managers are hard to find and even harder to hire.
Making the Number
Good sales managers make their numbers. They enforce activity rates. They push and bully and replace. Staff retention rates and customer satisfaction take a seat in the back. Good sales managers are paid to make their number, and take no prisoners in delivering them.
Great sales managers make sure every team member makes their numbers. Staff turnover is low, hiring is easy, customers are happy and costs of sale are lower.
Every sales guy wants to work where reasonable effort gets reasonable reward, where management solves problems and where there’s a helping hand when necessary. No sales rep wants to work where survival depends upon unusual luck, unreasonable targets and unhelpful management. They all want to work for great sales managers.
Driving Activity – “Just Make More Calls”
Forget the issues. Don’t bring me problems. Do as I say. Make my day. Just make more calls. Kiss more frogs. Find somebody who hasn’t talked to the competition. Work longer hours. Find a more convincing pitch. Fake it till you make it. Get Lucky or Get Lost. These are a few of the phrases we all hear from hard driving, activity focused sales leaders. (Notice there’s not much leadership in there). These are the mantra of good sales managers.
Driving Results – “Answer These Questions”
Why will that customer buy – whats the business imperative? Who will make the decision and how? Who are we competing with and how could they win? Where’s the budget and who controls it? Why will the customer buy from us? And when?
These are the questions we hear from the sales coach – the guy who wants us to improve at our job, so he doesn’t have do it himself. These are the questions the real sales leader asks, looking for ways to improve chances to win, and reduce risks of losing. This is the process of great sales managers.
Improving the Process
Essential Principles of Superstar Sales Managers
In one of the most difficult of jobs, some people stand out by virtue of their very survival. How do they do it? Is it extraordinary luck, exceptional effort, or extreme talent?
Maybe its simply professional application of basic principles.
The superstar sales managers I’ve come across have a realism born of experience and base their management style on some counter intuitive theories. That’s why they’re superstars, and here are those theories:
- Sales targets have to be achievable, by average ability guys, making average effort with average luck.
- CEOs have to be supportive. When Marketing or HR or Finance or Customer Service set the agenda satisfactory sales performance gets harder to achieve.
- Sales guys have to be realistic. Hope rarely turns into delivery. Facts are the essential elements of sales performance.
- Reviews have to forensic, frequent and friendly. Bullying sales guys is as likely to deliver results as beating dogs with sticks.
- Nobody is successful all of the time, buts lots of people fail every time. The difference between the two is knowing why.
- Sales managers never get the credit and always get the blame.
- “IF you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then you could be a sales manager my son.”
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.
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