As a sales manager, your primary responsibilities are (1) coaching and developing, (2) motivating; and (3) holding your salespeople accountable to the highest possible levels of achievement. Done right, there is probably no more maddening and demanding job in the universe. In addition to these three core responsibilities, you often have to spend a significant portion of your time recruiting new salespeople.
The process of coaching salespeople consists of an on-going dialogue that includes, but isn’t limited to, pre-call strategizing and post-call debriefing. Under ideal conditions, this should take place weekly. This means helping your salespeople discover what they can do to improve without being overly critical.
Motivating salespeople is an on-going process. On those days when a salesperson isn’t able to “self-start” you must step in and provide an external dose of motivation. Unfortunately, those days are far more common than anyone realizes, and you can only be effective when you know the unique motivations of each of your salespeople.
You should start by helping your salespeople get in touch with the dreams they have probably long forsaken. To be truly motivating their sales goals must be derived from their personal goals. If you take the time to get to know your salespeople, you will know how to motivate them and they will be more responsive to your coaching. If you really want to generate sales growth within your organization, this is an easy and powerful place to begin.
From there you must help your salespeople realize that their goals are achievable and help them construct a plan to reach them. This plan should consist of activities and behaviors that, if performed consistently, will manifest the results you are seeking. It is your job to hold your salespeople accountable to this plan.
Managing sales performance and holding salespeople accountable is perhaps the most feared part of sales management. It requires clear, mutual expectations for each salesperson’s required activity on a daily basis. Instead of holding your salespeople accountable for a certain sales volume on a monthly or quarterly basis, you should hold them accountable for the behaviors they need to perform on a daily basis to achieve these results. When salespeople fail to perform the required behaviors, you should meet with them, express disappointment and remind them that their performance was not acceptable. Next, you should make it clear that they must meet those expectations in the next measurement period and impose a penalty for failure to perform as required in the future.
The most important part of this process is following through. This is also the part that most managers fear. It requires confrontation and although it may make you uncomfortable, it is necessary. It sends a powerful message that you will not accept mediocrity.
Two things typically get in the way of being an effective manager – your ego and your need for approval. As a manager, you no longer enjoy the glory of closing the big deal. Your job is to help your salespeople experience that glory, so you’ll have to put your ego on hold and learn to live vicariously. Secondly, you have to realize that you are now the boss, and you can no longer be a friend to the people who work for you. You are now more like a parent who has to do what is best for their children, even if they hate you for it in the short term.
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