Sales managers are the linchpin of a sales team, the point of contact for salespeople looking for guidance, as well as the captain in charge of steering the sales process. They need to be analytical and data-minded, but also with a human touch. It is the same kind of delicate tightrope walk that all managers, regardless of department, must face.
But sales managers come at a slight disadvantage. Often promoted to the position because of sales prowess, a sales manager doesn’t necessarily have the managerial background (with some exceptions, of course) to handle that tightrope walk. That doesn’t mean they’re incapable, just that they lack the formal managerial education.
Great leadership, of the kind a winning sales manager must display, involves embodying a few key qualities.
Provided that you have hired coachable sales reps, one-on-one meetings are important in establishing both a clear path toward career success and trust. Team meetings, where every salesperson is looped into broader team goals, are equally important to the team’s culture.
Managing through intimidation might get you short-term results (might!), but it isn’t a sustainable form of management. Reps will burn out, turn against each other, or leave, costing your team significant lost revenue. It’s far better to nourish potential, applauding growth and hard work and constructively pointing out areas for improvement.
Don’t be afraid to be hands-on. Track your individual members’ performance and call activity metrics to try and determine what’s working and what isn’t. You don’t have to perch like a hawk near their computer monitors, however. Simply deploy lead sales tracking software to manage inside sales teams more proactively. It’s simple to use and gives you a real-time overview of your team’s performance.
On that note, don’t feel you should stop at your sales team. Leverage these sales insights to create a stronger line of communication with marketing; any information on the performance of different lead channels will prove helpful for inbound marketing efforts.
Unifying means bringing your sales team together to achieve common goals, but it also means aligning your team with the marketing team. As mentioned above, that starts with sharing insights from lead tracking software, but it can also include collaborating on targeted content. At the very least, don’t think of marketing as “passing off” leads to sales; rather, think of both teams as integral parts of the same pipeline.
As for your own team, try some teambuilding exercises. As hokey as they may sound (you won’t be doing trust falls, don’t worry) they can help foster an atmosphere of mutual support. Try team retreats that emphasize collaboration, like escape rooms or even a sales team cookout.
A background in management helps, but without one, you can still manage a winning sales team. You can proudly drink from that “World’s Best Boss” mug when you encourage your individual salespeople. Remain vigilant and proactive about their performance and unify sales and marketing to convert more leads.
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Founder Dinis Guarda
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