August 4, 2015

As a sales manager, your leadership style is a major contributing factor to your team’s success.

sales-manager-facing-challengesIf you let your team down, you will likely see their results suffer.

On the other hand, if you practice effective management and leadership skills, you can inspire your team and strengthen their performance.

However, sales management can be challenging, especially if you are new to the role.

Below are the top challenges faced by sales managers and how you can overcome them to improve sales productivity, become a stronger leader and get better results from your team:

 

Top 6 Challenges for Sales Managers

1. Adjusting to the Role

The road to becoming a sales manager sometimes involves being a salesperson for a while and then receiving a promotion. If this has happened to you, chances are, you quickly realized that the skill set required for effective sales management is quite a bit different than the skill set required for being a salesperson.

For example, you have to learn how to manage a team and juggle all of their different personalities, skill sets and learning styles. It is no longer enough for you to only understand your own way of selling – as a manager, you have to be open to methods other than yours. Be accepting of the way your salespeople approach selling. There is more than one way to succeed; so if their way works well, let them do it and praise them for their achievements.

Being a manager also means that your relationship with the sales team changes. You are no longer their equal in the company’s hierarchy, so you may be faced with awkward situations if your co-workers still view you as more of a peer than a boss.

Being a manager does not mean you need to give your team the cold shoulder. However, you may need to create a bit of distance when it comes to socializing with them after work. Be caring and open, but focus on leading your team to success rather than socializing and being their friend.

 

2. Stress

frustrated-salesperson-at-computerThere is no question that being a sales manager can be stressful.

After all, you work long hours, have many responsibilities and rely on the performance of your sales team to meet quotas.

Plus, salespeople can be difficult to lead, so managing a whole team of them can be overwhelming, especially when you have to learn how to motivate, inspire and lead them while making sure they get results.

Take some simple actions to reduce stress throughout the day and improve your quality of life at work.

Here are a few ideas to help you when you are feeling a bit frazzled:

  • Review your successes – Dealing with failure can be tough, but looking back on your past successes in difficult moments will allow you to think positively and remember your worth as a sales manager.
  • Take deep breaths – Deep, deliberate breaths can work wonders when it comes to stress management. Take some time out of your day to do this, and your tension will be reduced.
  • Recharge as needed – Take breaks when you can, even if you are busy. While it seems counterintuitive, giving yourself a few moments to recover can actually be a great way to improve sales productivity, both as a manager and as a salesperson.

Remember, stress can ruin your health and your attitude about work if you let it, so it is important for you to keep it to an absolute minimum.

 

3. Hiring the Right Salespeople

Hiring the wrong person can damage your career, your team and the company. As a sales manager, you need to prioritize getting the hiring process right so you can recruit top talent.

It is often not enough to hire a new salesperson based on your perception of his/her personality and skills. Instead, consider using a sales personality test to take the guesswork out of hiring and check for Drive – the #1 trait of a salesperson who can produce top results.

 

4. Creating an Environment that Encourages Success

Being a sales manager means that you set the tone for how your department runs.

Wondering what the characteristics of a high performance sales culture are? Here are a few of them:

  • Transparency – An effective sales manager has nothing to hide and promotes honesty in his team, even when the truth is unpleasant.
  • Friendly competition – Creating a sales leaderboard and rewarding the highest-ranking reps is a good way to improve sales productivity while motivating the sales team.
  • A shared vision – All of your salespeople should buy in to the company vision and see that vision as motivation to achieve greatness.

It is your job to promote a positive culture so that your team is set up to succeed. A negative culture can lead to high employee turnover and diminished production.

 

5. Retaining Top Talent

It is not enough to hire top talent – once they are on your team, you need to make sure you can keep them around as well. Consider these top reasons salespeople quit their jobs:

  • Compensation changes – If a salesperson’s compensation structure changes significantly and he cannot make as much money, he will likely look for a different job where his income opportunities are less limited.
  • Poor management – When a salesperson has to deal with micromanagement and/or a manager who is unaccepting of his methods, he will likely become unhappy and resentful at work and consider quitting.
  • Lack of growth – A salesperson will often abhor stagnation and will need plenty of growth opportunities to remain loyal to one company. Without those opportunities present, he may end up looking for a different work situation where his career and skill set can expand.

How does your company treat salespeople, and how do you treat your team as a manager? Make sure you are nurturing top talent with effective management practices and policies.

 

6. Mentoring/Coaching

salesman-sharing-experience-with-inexperienced-sales-rep

If you do not think coaching is important, consider that studies have shown that well-coached salespeople perform significantly better than others. To maximize your team’s performance, use these coaching best practices:

  • Encourage independence – Help your sales team, but avoid coddling them so they will learn how to face challenges on their own.
  • Set a good example – Your team is affected by your attitude and actions. Exhibit all of the qualities that you would like to see in them.
  • Provide effective training – Make sure that your team participates in ongoing training, and give them feedback (praise and constructive criticism) to help them boost their sales skills.

Even if it feels like you are too busy to spend a lot of time coaching, it is important to make it a priority and do it as often as you can. It may occasionally seem like a waste of your time, but it will pay off when the time comes for your team to meet tough sales quotas.

Remember, your job is to serve the salespeople on your team and equip them with the tools, training and mentoring they need to succeed. Do this consistently, and you will be pleased with their results (and your own).