While it may be slightly cliché to say, it’s certainly not untrue that a good sales manager is worth their weight in gold. But what makes a good sales manager in the first place? Whether you’re a business owner who wants a 24-carat right-hand person on your team or you’re a sales manager wanting to develop the Midas touch, there are good practice principles to follow for the best results.
1. Discovering How Your Team Members Learn
Everybody learns differently. Some learn better by reading instructions, others with a hands-on demonstration and many from a conversation. Some salespeople can be motivated more effectively to absorb information if you spend the next 10 minutes sitting down with them privately while others will do better if you explain things via email. In some cases, getting on the phone for a watchable demo or doing a role-play will really see a return on that minor extra time investment.
Suggestion: Watch closely and take note of how your team members respond to different methods of instruction.
2. What Gets Your Sales Guys Out of Bed in the Morning?
Just like people learn differently, everybody is motivated differently and understanding what gets your salespeople out of bed in the morning is key to making sure their enthusiasm stays hot. Do they want money? Do they just want to be top salesperson and beat everyone? Are they more excited about free prize incentives? Discover how people tick and capitalize it.
Suggestion: If somebody’s competitive, encourage them to beat the competition and spend time praising the good work of others so they try and out-do their rivals.
3. Hold Salespeople Accountable for Results
If you’re a sales manager and you take a day off work only to come in the following morning and see a slump in sales activity, you know you’ve got a problem and it’s important not to let this go unmentioned. By failing to pull up the team on measurable shortfalls, you’re indirectly encouraging this kind of behaviour to be the norm. That said, engaging in a shouting session won’t help either. Approach situations like this with tact.
Suggestion: Ask what’s wrong to have caused the results and what you can do to help turn it around.
4. Always be a Coach and Not a Parent
It doesn’t matter how old we get, nothing grinds us like our parents telling us what to do. Why would you try to motivate a sales person with the same tactics? Avoid becoming a parent at all costs and instead become a coach.
Students of coaches aspire to impress them and make them look good to win their respect. A good coach helps a student by seeking out weak points to improve their game with positive encouragement. A student is not afraid to take a difficulty or problem to a coach who helps them like they might be to a parent who reprimands them.
Suggestion: Always avoid reprimanding someone like a scolding parent. Instead identify a mistake as an area which needs attention and then help and encourage.
5. A Great Working Relationship
To finish up, and as a summary and extension to the above, form a great relationship with your team members. Many sales managers around the world (usually the ones making a fraction of the money the company is capable of) believe instilling fear in and bullying the salespeople will get sales. This is a false economy. It’s a short term game and one which sees diminishing returns and, as any good investor will tell you, you must look at the long game.
Suggestion: Do everything you can to work on the relationship and avoid using fear as a motivator unless it’s a last resort.