Deciding to go into sales management is a very big step for a sales person. Recently, I received an offer to serve as a sales trainer or de-facto sales manager; based on my time in field sales and my blog.
What are a VP of Sales, Sales Director and Sales Manager?
Well they are leaders.
The first thing that a sales manager needs to do to be successful is to lead people and serve as an example. During my time in sales, especially during training, I went to these sales leaders when I had questions and needed help. (Before taking the position, you should make sure that you can believe in the product and that you can sell it yourself because when the sales team cannot do it they will look to you for help!)
The second thing that a sales leader needs to have to be successful is a successful track record as a sales person. Did you notice that I said successful and not a rock star? This will take us to the next thing a sales manager needs to have to be successful.
The third thing that a sales manager needs to have is empathy and patience. This comes into play when training new sales people. They may go into the field and get shot down or they might be developing slower than you would like. The easy thing to do would be to say deal with it. Another easy thing to do would be to fire them. This is the wrong thing to do. (At least the in the beginning.) The sales manager needs to support their sales people by debriefing with them and communicating with them. (Think, Babe Ruth was never a manager in baseball even though he was a star; he lacked the patience to do the job.)
The fourth thing that a sales manager needs to do is to go around with their sales people to meet customers. The sales manager needs to do this directly when possible. Delegating this task sends the wrong message to the new person. It says that the sales person is not important. If you must delegate this task, make sure the sales rep goes out with a seasoned sales rep that is successful so they can pick up their positive habits.
The sixth thing that a sales manager needs to do is to make sure that their sales people have knowledge of: the company’s products, how to provide customer service, how to keep customers paying on time, develop relationships with customers, how to up-sell and cross-sell, how to demonstrate value, not selling on price and how to handle difficult customers.
The eighth thing that the sales manager needs to do is to let the sales people to know its ok to ask for the order after they make their presentation. The sales manager also needs to teach the sales people the following: to generate leads, to convert these leads into sales, to follow-up on sales, earn referrals and testimonials and to make the quota. Only if the sales team makes their quota will the sales manager make theirs. The sales manager can motivate their team to sell with sales contests. This a great way to promote healthy competition among the sales team. (A side note, touch base with your team on a weekly basis. However, reduce the amount of sales meetings that you have. Especially if your team has to travel long distances to attend. The last thing that you want to do is take money away from yourself and your team by keeping them out of their territories. I would recommend one to two meetings team meetings a month. The rest of the meetings can be handled via conference call, email and co-traveling. Sites such as GoToMeeting can facilitate meetings.
The ninth thing to do is to assess your team’s strengths’ and weaknesses’; working with the team to correct them.
The tenth and last thing that a sales manager needs to be successful is be able to repeat steps one to nine multiple times as sales people are promoted, fired and leave to go work for another company. When firing someone make sure to meet with them face to face and explain the situation. No one likes to hear this news over the phone or via email. You will need to learn how to interview and recruit people as well.
These are the 10 things that a sales leader needs to do or have to be successful.