Sales Manager is one of the most difficult jobs out there. Your responsibilities span the entire organization. Along with the work you’re doing with your VP or Director of Sales, you’re working with colleagues in Product, Marketing, HR – the list goes on.
Most importantly, managers are responsible for the individual and collective success of their salespeople. Rallying reps to hit their quota is no easy task, especially when every team member is motivated by different things.
If you want to succeed in this role, you must adopt these three key habits to secure your status as an excellent sales manager.
As a sales manager, you have an infinite number of things you could be doing. However, you need to make time to shadow your reps every day.
Why is this so critical?
First of all, you can observe your top rep’s best practices, and then pass those on to your other reps. Your top-performing salespeople might not see exactly what they’re doing to be so successful. But since you’re spending time with everyone, you can pick up on the things that are working for them, and pass them along to the whole team.
Shadowing your reps also allows you to catch issues and bad behaviors immediately – rather than several weeks or months down the line when certain reps on your team fall short of their number. It’s important to catch those behaviors early, to secure the chances of your reps hitting their quotas.
While you at first might worry about spending your precious time on the floor, it’s important to note that this habit will actually save you an enormous amount of time in your pipeline reviews. You see, you won’t need the same amount of explanation or context when you sit down with your reps, and you can get to the numbers and details much quicker and more efficiently.
Finally, showing up and making your presence known to your reps as they are making their calls shows your sales team that your biggest priority is their deals. Your focus and determination for their success will earn you their loyalty, commitment, and respect.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting to recruit until you’ve got an open spot on your team. Usually, when this time comes, you won’t have quota relief – which means every day that position isn’t filled, you’re falling behind. As a result, many managers end up settling for someone mediocre because they don’t have the time to spend to find a great candidate.
To avoid this issue, spend an hour every day recruiting, no matter what your headcount is. Go to networking events, ask your contacts for referrals, interview salespeople, add connections on LinkedIn, and so forth. You’ll have a ready pipeline of potential reps when the time comes.
Consistently recruiting also encourages your current salespeople to keep working hard. After all, they’ll know they can be replaced if they stop getting results.
I don’t know a single sales director who wouldn’t hire a superstar even if you’ve got a full roster. If you find someone amazing, you can ask to hire her.
Time management is huge in this role. In fact, it’s something we focus on in our management training and many sales managers have to specifically spend time learning this skill, in order to be an effective sales manager.
Some of my top tips to help with this – Firstly, if you have an open-door policy, I’d get rid of it immediately. Schedule “office hours” instead: Two 60-minute blocks per week during which anyone can drop by your desk or shoot you an email and get a response.
For separate questions or requests, tell your reps to book time on your calendar. This will free up hours of your schedule. Rather than pestering you with every issue that comes up, your salespeople will only present the most important ones. They’ll figure out the minor questions on their own or wait until office hours.
I also recommend steering clear of Slack and other instant message platforms. These tools enforce LIFO: Last In, First Out. In other words, the most recent message tends to get the first reply. It’s unproductive and unfair.
If you currently use a chat tool, shut it off for one week. Then review how efficient you were. I guarantee you’ll have gotten more done.
Implement these three habits into your sales management routine, and you’ll see the difference in your team’s performance.
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