Working with sales managers, we’ve noticed that even the best intentioned managers get bogged down in the minutiae of their work: the paperwork that piles up, the high profile account that needs hand holding, the vendor relationships that need to be nurtured, etc. Although these managers struggle with busy work, they know that they need to focus their time on the critical essentials of their job.
By working with the best sales managers, we’ve identified four top priority areas that need to be worked on regularly, regardless of the industry you serve. Let’s not do busy work at the expense of the job you were hired to do: grow the sales!
As a salesperson, this is the hardest thing to do — to plan out your weeks, months and years. But as a sales manager, you are the strategic thinker for the sales team: playing down the chess board, planning out next year’s new products and services, how you will go to market, what trade shows to attend, what marketing materials will be needed, etc. Only the sales manager can do the Planning and Organizing for the sales team.
You know that you are only as good as your sales team. So you must have a regular system of meeting and interviewing new sales candidates. Even if you have a full complement of strong players, you should still spend a minimum of 5% of your time building your talent pool.
Nothing keeps your team working harder than knowing you can easily replace them. And nothing makes you look at your team with a keen eye more than having other good people who may produce well for you.
Working the numbers, reevaluating your pipeline, completely understanding where your prospects and customers come from… each sales manager really has to know the finances of the business. Accurate forecasting is the hallmark of truly professional sales managers. Nobody is closer to it than you.
Once you have an effective pipeline management system that delivers accurate sales forecasts, you need to effectively share this information. Upper management, production and service managers, and most importantly, your sales team needs this information to effectively do their jobs.
This is where the rubber meets the road. If the sales manager is only as good as his or her sales team, then only with clear coaching and development does the sales manager make an average team good or a good team great.
This is the primary role of the sales manager. Many managers easily spend more than 50% of their time working with their people — either individually or at sales meetings. Coaching and Development is an ongoing process, with each skill set learned, applied and becoming second nature before moving on to the next.
Each of these priority areas are investments in time; but like any investment, they provide a positive return. They are strategic in nature and yet deliver real tactical results. In combination, these four priority areas are what creates a great sales team that will deliver the numbers for you.