There are a lot of things that go into the making of a great sales manager. Last week we focused on the first eight of the Sixteen Principles of Sales Management. Here are the remaining eight Principles:
9) Catch them doing something right: Most all of us react better to positive reinforcement as opposed to always being criticized for what we did wrong. It is important for a sales manager to let their salespeople know when they have done something right. For every piece of negative feedback, there should be 10 pieces of positive feedback. It is also vital to separate the two; a coaching session should focus on what the salesperson needs to improve on. If you are providing positive feedback, do not include negative feedback in the same session. If you take the time to catch your salespeople doing good things, then chances are high that they will continue to do those things.
10) Your sales staff is either getting better or it is getting worse (nothing stands still): One of your primary jobs as a sales manager is to constantly push your staff and make sure they are getting better. Even if your staff is maintaining its level of productivity, if they are not improving on that level then they are getting worse. I promise you that your competitors are working hard to get better and if your staff is maintaining status quo, then you are falling behind. This is where effective training and coaching are vital.
11) You must know your people well enough to know how to move them individually: Everyone is motivated in different ways and a good sales manager knows how to get the best out of everyone on their team. Some people are motivated by money, some by paid time off, while others are motivated by pats on the back. It is your job to find out what motivates each of your salespeople and use that to get the best out of them.
12) Be firm but fair: If one salesperson is written up for a mistake then every salesperson must be written up for the same mistake. Sales management by exception does not work. Discipline is not the fun part of being a sales manager, but it is necessary at times, and it must be consistent. Remember that discipline is what you DO for someone not what you do TO someone. It is also important to remember that positive reinforcement must also be delivered firmly and fairly.
13) Give them quality time: As a sales manager, you have many responsibilities and many of those responsibilities do not always involve direct contact with your team. While those responsibilities are important, it is more important to make sure you are staying in touch with your team and making sure they have what they need to be successful. Whenever possible, get your operational tasks out of the way and focus your time on your people. If they know you care, they will repay you with their productivity.
14) Business is business: In order for you and your staff to be truly effective, you must maintain a business relationship at all times. Personal relationships have no place in business for an effective sales manager. If, by chance, you do have a personal relationship with someone on your staff then it is vital that you separate the two. Keep in mind that it should be rare to have a friend on your staff and it can really complicate things if you are not careful.
If you are friends with one or two of your salespeople but not with the rest of your team, then you run the risk of those other team members feeling like they are being treated differently. As we talked about before, be firm and fair. It is hard to do that if you are having dinner with one member of your staff but not the others.
15) Let them know what is expected of them: One of the most frustrating things for employees, regardless of the field, is when they do not know what is expected of them. If they do not know what is expected of them, then how can they possibly meet your expectations. That is why sale’s goals, customer service standards, policies and procedures need to be clear, so your team knows exactly what is expected of them.
16) Make it fun: Almost everyone is going to be more productive when they are having fun. It is up to you as the sales manager to create an environment that is fun to work in and leads to productivity. One of your goals should be that your salespeople wake up in the morning and look forward to coming into work. This can be accomplished through positive feedback, coaching and training, contests, games and knowing each of your people individually. People want and need to be successful; you owe it to them to give them everything you can for them to be successful. (Review Sales Management Principles 1-8 here)
The main theme through all of these principles is finding ways to put your salespeople in a position to be successful. While a sales manager has many duties, there is no duty that is more important than providing the necessary support to their sales staff. If your salespeople are successful, then you will be a success as a manager.
Take the necessary time to invest in each of your salespeople and find out what motivates each one of them. Find out who responds to a kick in the behind and who responds to a pat on the back, and then use that information to make each of them successful. A great sales manager is only great because of a great team!