Managers can encourage or discourage sales with their policies and actions, so what makes a great sales manager?
More sales are lost through poor sales management than through poor salesmanship.
Ask a manager and then ask a salesperson who works for him/her about the qualities that make a sales manager great and I’m sure you’ll get two completely different answers.
Here is a list of sales leadership traits compiled from three sources – my personal experience, interviewing more than 50 sales managers, and asking more than 100 salespeople what makes an ideal manager. The compiled results are some pretty good guidelines. How many of these attributes can you say apply to you, and describe the way you manage/lead?
And if you’re a salesperson reading this, how many of these traits do you wish your boss or manager had?
• Lead (manage) by example
Don’t preach things you don’t follow or do yourself. You’re not above it. Lead by doing, not telling.
• Get and maintain a positive attitude
The single biggest step you can take toward your success, and the success of your people. Keep your sales team happy by setting a happy example.
• Set and achieve goals together
Don’t set quotas, set goals.
• Take sales inquiry calls
Stay on top of knowing what the customer wants and your ability to sell.
• Make calls with your staff
Walk in their shoes on a regular basis.
• Make some follow-ups on the phone
Keep in touch with prospects to find out what it takes to make them customers.
• Take some customer complaint calls
Find out what the real problems of your customers, your company and your sales force really are.
• Make calls to dissatisfied customers
Follow up on actions taken.
• Make calls to lost sales
Find out why you lost it.
• Make customer ‘thank you’ calls after a sale
A personal call from management makes a great beginning to a relationship.
• Visit your key accounts with your reps
Go on at least 10 sales calls per month.
• Call satisfied customers
Find out what makes your customers happy, and what kind of job your reps are doing.
• Use sales reports that are by prospect, rather than day by day
Have activity by date, by customer or prospect so you can see the sales cycle on one sheet. It’s a total waste of time to know what someone did on a Monday or Tuesday; if you need to know that, get your sales people to copy their CRM calendars and hand them in with their reports so you can see how busy, organised, or close to meeting their numbers they are.
• Check on sales reports periodically
Make sure your people aren’t just filling spaces to make it look good.
• Ask for feedback
From salespeople, upper management and customers.
• Put feedback into action
Show the staff you’re listening – it will encourage more productive suggestions and boost morale big time. Show you have the ability to change.
• Back your staff
When a customer has a problem, defend and believe in the capability of your people. Don’t judge until you’ve heard both sides.
• Say nice things to your staff on a regular basis
Have twice as many nice things to say as bad things.
• Encourage, don’t reprimand
Everyone makes mistakes, even you. Encouragement and positive reinforcement will prevent mistakes from being made twice more so than a reprimand will; be a friend, offer support.
• If you must reprimand, do it in private
And don’t tell anyone else about it.
• Don’t play favourites
It will kill you, team morale and your most favoured.
• Be inspirational
Send inspirational messages. Look around your office, are there inspirational things on the wall? Do you follow those messages or are they just a hollow reminder of what you should be doing, too?
• Offer rewards and give awards for exceptional work
Incentives work. Offer incentives that anyone can win.
• Keep your eyes open for the opportunity to improve or sell
When you’re sharp, alert and getting results, it will inspire your staff.
• Train, train, train
Regular weekly training, attend every seminar possible, audio/auto cassette programs and books having anything to do sales and positive attitude.
• Finally, and most importantly, don’t manage anyone – lead them.
If you’re looking to manage someone, manage yourself.
If you can’t get good people or if you are experiencing high turnover, it may be you that’s the jerk, not your salespeople.
To be a great leader of salespeople, make them follow you, not your rules.
Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development.