I recently added to my management duties the role of sales manager. However, I am not really sure what I should be doing. Can you help?
You arent alone. Most sales managers have no idea what their role really is. As sales manager, your primary responsibilities are (1) coaching; (2) motivating; and (3) holding your sales people accountable. Done right, you probably wont find another job more maddening or demanding.
The process of coaching sales people consists of an ongoing dialog that includes, but isnt limited to, pre-call strategizing and post-call debriefing with each sales person. Under ideal conditions, this should take place daily. This means helping your reps discover what they could do to improve, without being overly critical.
Motivating sales people is an ongoing process in which, on those days when a sales person isnt able to self start, you 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 are aware of what will uniquely motivate each sales person.
Start by helping your sales people get in touch with the dreams they have probably long forsaken. For you to be truly motivating, your reps personal goals must be derived from their dreams. If you take the time to get to know the people who work for you a little better, you not only will know how to motivate them, but they will be more responsive to your coaching.
If you really want to generate sales growth within your organization, this is an easy, yet powerful place to begin.
From there, you must help your reps realize that their goals can be achieved and help them construct a plan that will enable them to reach their goals. This should consist of activities and behavior which, if performed consistently, will manifest results youre seeking. Once constructed, its your job to hold your sales people accountable to their plan.
Holding sales people accountable is perhaps the most feared part of sales management. It requires clear, mutual expectations for each sales persons required activity on a daily basis.
Instead of holding your reps accountable for a certain sales volume on a monthly or quarterly basis, however, hold them accountable for the behavior they need to perform on a daily basis to achieve these results. When a sales person fails to perform the required behavior, meet with them, express disappointment and remind them that the performance was not acceptable.
Next, make it clear that the sales person must meet those expectations in the next period and impose a penalty for failure to perform as required in the future.
I personally believe you should use a three strikes and youre out philosophy. The most important part of this is following through. This is the part most managers fear, because it requires confrontation.
Although it may make you uncomfortable, its necessary. It also sends a powerful message to the whole staff that you no longer accept mediocrity.
Larry Lewis is president of Total Development Inc., a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm specializing in sales development and training. Send comments and questions via fax at (724) 933-9224 or e-mail at LTLewis@totaldevelopment.com. Reach him by phone at (724) 933-9110.