Sales managers typically have two key tasks. Personal Development of the Sales Professional, and being a Sales Escalation Point. I define a sales escalation point as being both an internal and external resource. Internally, if I need something approved or need to negotiate internally with the company about an issue for a client or prospect, I need my sales manager to be there for me. Externally if I need assistance closing a deal or handling a client that is at risk for leaving us, I would like to bring my sales manager in to help close out the deal. Picture bringing in the closer in baseball to save the game for the team.
Personal development of the sales professional also takes on two roles. These two roles are to develop the sales professional for career advancement and developing the skills of the sales professional. For today’s post, I want to focus on developing the skills of the sales professional. Every sales professional is different. So to maximize the effectiveness of a sales manager, I recommend the following 5 steps.
Step 1: Identify and Measure
You need to first identify the areas of the sales process that each individual rep is responsible for. These areas need to be something that you can measure. For example the number of cold calls they complete each week, the number of meetings, demos and wins/losses each week. You can only improve the things that you can measure.
Once you identify the areas and find a way to measure the activity, you then need to be able to compare your team. When comparing the team, we are not looking to see who is fastest or best…at least not yet. What we are looking for is a baseline. What is the average number of cold calls and meetings that a sales professional can perform on a given week?
After we obtain the team average, we can then move to the next step
Step 2: Drive the team
Now that we know the average productivity of the team, we need to drive the team toward obtaining these goals and exceeding them. You need to work with each rep individually to make sure you understand what makes them tick, what tasks in the sales process do they love, which ones do they hate and based on the averages, which ones are they struggling to complete each week. Once we know that we can start to develop individual goals for each rep.
Step 3: Write it down
Now that we have individual goals for each rep, we need to write them down. I want everyone on the team to know what everyone else is working on. I want each team member to see on a daily basis what they need to be working for and I hope to create some healthy competition and some competitive banter between the reps.
Step 4: Work on progressing to the goal
Here is where you earn your keep as a sales manager. You need to develop a development plan for each rep to help them attain their goals. Are there books they can read, training they can attend? Are you riding with your reps? Are we doing role plays to practice common objections we receive? The key to working on the progress is to focus on one key thing at a time. That way it stops you and your rep from getting distracted and off track of the ultimate goal.
Step 5: Reward
If you have done the first four steps and your rep has responded to your efforts, there will come a time that we reach our goals. In some situations, this may be a few days or weeks, in other cases it may be a multi-year project. You need to find time to reward your reps. You need to understand what types of rewards mean the most to your reports and deliver those rewards to them. It may be as simple as telling them to take a half day off and spend it with loved ones. It may be more personal and have them and their significant other join you and your significant other for dinner and drinks. Whatever those motivating actions are, know them and reward your team with them whenever possible.
One of my most favorite managers was very good at the reward step. I remember a time I traveled to another territory to fulfill some commitments we made but the rep had left the company and my manager needed someone to help out. He asked me to help him and I did. When I got home from the business trip, he called me and told me to take my wife out for dinner at The Melting Pot. Not only was it nice to get a free dinner from him but he showed that he listens because I had told him that it was my wife and my favorite special date night restaurant.
Follow these tasks and you will see improvements in your reps.