Most people in sales management were promoted because they were high performing salespeople. They are highly skilled, extremely confident, and motivated to succeed.
After starting their new role, sales managers began doing what they assumed was the right way to drive their team’s performance. After all, “if it worked for me, it’ll work for my reps, too.”
But as our Business Efficacy consultants have learned from working with sales managers across the country in various industries and career levels, one thing is very clear: sales managers absolutely believe they have the required skills for their job, are taking the right actions, and are adding a great deal of value.
Yet performance paints a different picture.
At most sales organizations a common performance inhibiting trend continues. A small percentage of salespeople deliver the majority of sales. The “moveable middle”–the average performers who typically represent 60% of most sales organizations–are stuck at less-than-desirable levels of productivity.
‘If you don’t know what you don’t know, you will do what you’ve always done’
If the team’s top line sales goals are being met (probably by relying on a few high performers), sales managers believe all is well. It’s hard to move from “good” to “better” or “best” if you’re unaware there’s a need for change or clueless to what changes would be of value.
Step one in going from “good” to “best” is recognizing that “best” measure and attain success differently. “Best” strive to get a large percentage of their salespeople performing at high levels…consistently!
Leader, manager or coach?
Sales managers typically default to one of three distinct approaches: executing their role as either a leader, a manager or a coach. Step two in becoming “best” is recognizing the difference between the three and determining your tendencies, assessing your strengths and weaknesses.
- Passionate leaders strive to always present a compelling vision, direction or goal. Leaders provide energizing talks and conversations to pump up their sales staff.
- Disciplined managers set specific expectations and always inspect what they expect, and pay meticulous attention to tracking activities, pipelines, forecasts, and sales. They make sure their salespeople are clear on what needs to be done and are held accountable.
- Development coaches roll up their sleeves and spend time in the field modeling effective sales behavior. Joint calls follow pre-call planning and “role plays” as standard practice. Coaches work hard to develop their team’s skills so salespeople know what needs to happen and will do it well.
Most sales managers aren’t comfortable or effective with more than one of the three approaches. Yet all three are critically important to driving sales performance from each and every salesperson.
The Secret to ‘Best’
Best sales managers know the value of each discipline and challenge themselves to productively use all three. They recognize that impact can only be achieved when all three are done at the right time, in the right way and with the right focus–on sales activities that matter most.
Step three on the path from “good” to “better” to “best” entails acknowledging our strengths (one or two of the three), and then developing the skills associated with the others, and integrating the three as we interact with our salespeople.
Going for ‘Best’
Becoming “best” requires that sales managers believe their job is to impact each individual’s performance and measure their own impact based on that outcome. They stay focused and motivated to take each salesperson to optimal performance. “Best” know step four is about commitment and dedication to deliver excellence in all three disciplines every day with every salesperson. That is what truly differentiates the best from the rest.
Good, Better, or Best?
Want to know where you or your team stack up? Ask yourself how well you and your sales management team positively impact each salesperson’s performance. THEN ask yourself how well you or your sales managers:
- Motivate each salesperson to do what matters most (Lead)
- Develop each salesperson to effectively execute what matters most (Coach)
- Focus each salesperson, holding them accountable to what matters most (Manage)
To learn more about what’s required to become best using the three sales management disciplines, please give us a call for further insights and suggestions: 952.217.0416. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.