Succeeding as a sales manager is no easy task. Not only do you have your own duties to handle, you also have an entire sales team to keep track of. With the success of your sales team largely depending on you, it can easily become overwhelming.
Yet, there are some sales managers that somehow make managing a sales team look like a seamless part of their day-to-day routines.
So how do they do it? They have mastered the art of becoming effective sales managers.
How to Become an Effective Sales Manager
1. Interview Salespeople Properly
The success of your sales team starts with building the right sales team.
Unfortunately, there are five common mistakes sales managers make during an interview that can make hiring the best salespeople very difficult.
The five sales hiring mistakes to avoid are:
- Unclear job requirements/responsibilities
- Asking hypothetical situation questions
- Treating the interview too much like an interview, and not enough like a conversation
- Failing to determine whether an interviewee has Drive
- Not listening
Rather than asking hypothetical questions, as stated in #2 above, here are some great questions to ask when interviewing a salesperson:
- “When was the last time you got into a competition?”
- “What kinds of sacrifices have you had to make to be successful?”
- “Think back to the last time you lost a sale. What did you do to recover?”
- “What are you enjoying in your life right now?”
- “We have a project right now that we need to speed up by a month. How would you tackle this?”
Questions such as these will help you to determine whether your candidate has Drive, which is what will ultimately lead your sales reps, and thus, your sales team to success.
2. Ask Your Sales Team for Input
The old adage “there is no ‘I’ in team” is one you have likely heard for years.
From team sports as a child, all the way up to your current position as sales manager, this saying rings just as true as ever.
Your company’s sales are not a success without your sales team working together for and with you.
And one of the best ways to keep your sales team working hard for you is to ask for their suggestions.
If you are in need of a new campaign, or new ideas to reinvigorate sales, gather your team and ask them for their ideas.
And of course, make sure that you show a genuine interest in their ideas.
Do not just ask for their input for the sake of asking − ask because you intend on putting some of their ideas to practice.
And if you are not having any luck in getting solid ideas from your team, explain to them why the ideas they are presenting do not seem like they are going to work out, but encourage them to continue thinking outside of the box.
Here are some great ways you can help your sales reps tap into their creativity and contribute even more to the team:
- Encourage daily growth
- Schedule brainstorm sessions out of the office
- Have sales reps record ideas in an “ideas notebook”
- Put up a brainstorming board for sales reps to add to
3. Be a Strong Coach/Mentor
According to a study, sales managers only spend 20% of their time helping their sales reps close deals. This statistic shows an alarming trend that sales managers are becoming increasingly removed from the day-to-day struggles their sales reps are dealing with.
New salespeople in particular need strong mentors in order to find the success that they (and you) seek.
If dropped in the middle of the sales ocean to fend for themselves, chances are your sales reps will sink to the bottom.
Do not allow that to happen.
Not only will it tarnish your relationship with your sales reps, it will also quickly reflect in your company’s sales, and may even jeopardize your position within the company if this becomes an ongoing issue.
Instead, make yourself available for questions, and schedule regular times to check in with individual sales reps to see how things are going for them.
Another great idea is to create a mentorship program where you do not have to serve as the only mentor for your reps. Pair your new sales reps with veteran reps who can inspire the new guys to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward.
4. Don’t Play Favorites
While it is obvious that any sales team will have sales reps that perform better than others, you do not want to get yourself into a pickle with playing favorites.
On the other end of the spectrum, you also do not want to end up focusing all of your time and energy on coaching the salespeople who are really struggling.
Try your best to spread your time evenly between all tiers of success on your sales team, and you will likely find that the differences between the groups become smaller and smaller, as the less successful sales reps get the right amount of coaching they need to join the top ranks.
5. Provide Positive Feedback
As you know, sales can be incredibly difficult.
One minute you have closed a huge deal and are feeling on top of the world, and the next, you cannot close a deal to save your life.
While the two main motivators for salespeople are money and recognition, you likely have limited ability to offer financial incentives, including what you can pay your sales reps and bonuses you are allowed to give.
But one thing that you are not limited by is recognition. Praising your sales reps for doing well will go much farther than you think.
And public recognition goes even further.
Make an effort to praise your sales reps in private as well as in front of the team. This will boost the morale of the overall team, and likely serve as a great motivator for those sales reps who are not finding the success they would like.
As you can see, being an effective sales manager is possible and does not necessarily require you to make substantial changes to your current daily tasks.
By interviewing properly, asking your team for input, being a strong mentor, not playing favorites, and providing positive feedback, you will be pleasantly surprised by the levels of success your sales team is able to reach.