Frequently I am asked by management teams to attend their sales meetings, to give feedback, and to participate in how my customers are developing their revenue engines. These meetings are often designed around team building events on a beach or at a resort with a golf course. Sometimes they are dialed down meetings, designed to set the vision for the company; others are an opportunity to relax with their colleagues. Some are both (my favorites, indeed)
Recently, I’ve sat back to consider what makes a good sales manager great. A manager’s primary role is to develop the sales rep. The sales rep’s primary role is to develop the opportunity and win the business. There are four competencies that a manager needs to master to become great.
- Set Objectives: I’ve seen managers set objectives based on their own personal experiences with no buy-in from the rep. It looks like this: “All sales reps must call on 5 opportunities a week and make 20 cold calls a day.” This approach may work, but the better way would be to set objectives with the sales rep. It looks like this: “Here are the revenue objectives we are trying to meet this year. What do you think we need to do to achieve that objective?” Managers who can get buy in from the rep and set clear objectives will garner amazing performance.
- Schedule Reviews with Agreed Information Share: Once the objectives are set and the expectations are clear—now what happens? Don’t just leave it up to your sales rep to “wing it.” If the objective is to win $500,000 new business, then discuss with the rep what types of customers they should be talking to. How many of those customers will they need to talk to reach their goal? Have them send you the follow up correspondence they are sending their customers as a checkup. Walk them through the process and the expectations for follow up and you will have repeatable success.
- Evaluate and Coach: In my experience you can learn a lot about a sales rep’s performance from the prospect’s replies to follow up correspondence. Are the customer’s goals clearly stated? Can the capabilities provided move them closer to those goals? Are enough letters going out to show an ample pipeline? Are they talking to the right people at the company? These letters should tell all these things and more. After the evaluation, choose 1 or 2 things to coach them on. It can’t be too many or the little time you have to spend with the rep will seem crowded and your coaching will be overwhelming. Tackle one skill to help them improve at a time. For example, role play with them and listen to how they position your product’s capabilities. Then tackle another skill the next time you talk or meet, soliciting their feedback on how the reinforced skill is developing.
- Feedback and Reinforce: Look for what the sales reps do well. You’ll need to constantly reinforce the positive and maintain the foundation you’re building on. If the objectives are not being achieved, then focus on what’s going right and how that skill got you 50% there. Then work together on skills that will to get you the rest of the way. If a manager can master this skill they will not just be a great manager but a great leader as well.
As John D. Rockefeller said, “Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” By mastering these 4 skills managers will get superior people with superior results. My management workshops are an in depth development of these skills, and I welcome an opportunity to discuss them with you.
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