Sales managers frequently are the driving force behind all success in sales organizations. I would pick an incredible sales manager and a group of average sales reps any day of the week over a mediocre sales manager and a team of rock stars. It is only when you have a strong sales management team in place that you can truly reap the benefits of a great salesperson.
If you asked 100 different industry experts what the secret to being a successful sales manager is, you would probably get 100 different answers. I am certainly no expert, but in my opinion, a great sales manager needs to become an expert in communication and incorporate a simple M.E.A.L. plan.
Motivation is an integral part of sales performance. Sales representatives typically perform at their highest level only when adequately motivated, incentivized, and celebrated for their efforts. As a sales manager, it is your responsibility to understand your team and identify the best way to motivate your reps to ensure consistent, desirable results.
Inspiring motivation is about figuring out what makes your reps willing to go the extra mile. Sales reps who aren’t properly motivated will not necessarily morph into top-performers simply because you offer them a bunch of money. Take the time to identify the thing that makes your reps tick, and the team players who have the talent and self-discipline to work for a reward will quickly rise to the top.
It is imperative that great sales managers take the time to show gratitude both individually and collectively. Your team needs to know when they’ve done well and not only hear from you when you identify areas for improvement. Saying “thank you” can be the most natural and most effective way to make sales staff feel valued and appreciated. It is zero cost to your budget and is a proven driver of employee retention.
Create a culture of accountability which starts with setting clear expectations for your sales reps. Does your sales team truly understand the company objective? Do they have clear short-term and long-term goals?
Sales managers often believe they have clearly communicated and that everyone is on the same page while the sales reps don’t always get the message. This is probably because sales managers too often use ambiguous language or poorly written emails that are not specific enough to be understood and incorporated by the sales team.
Being a great coach is an aspect of accountability that is often overlooked by most managers but which can be one of the best sales management tools to drive sales performance. The objective of a good coach is to help each sales representative create good habits and help them reach their real potential. A sales manager with exceptional coaching skills will not only see improved sales performance but will also have better team member engagement, less turnover, and better job satisfaction.
No other activity exemplifies credibility as a sales manager leading by example. To keep a sales team hitting on all cylinders, a sales manager must show the team how things should be done. Leading by example will create a culture that facilitates confidence and success.
Too often, sales managers rely on deadlines and metrics to move the needle which will either turn into micro-management or be perceived as micro-management. Though metrics can be highly effective, great sales managers figure out how to mesh their back-office responsibilities with the front-line efforts.
There are countless best practices one can implement to be a great sales manager, but these tips are no doubt utilized by some of the greatest. You will be well on your way to becoming a great sales manager by remembering the M.E.A.L. plan: Motivation, Encouragement, Accountability, and Leadership.