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Opinion: Sales managers juggle expectations, egos

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Being an effective sales manager is no easy feat.

It takes hard work, diligence and gumption. Sales management is probably one of the hardest types of management roles there is, because we have to manage expectations and egos.

What sales manager hasn’t come across a salesperson who is invincible? They are tough to manage because they do everything their own way, and their way is always the right way.

What sales manager hasn’t come across a salesperson who simply can’t sell? The few pieces of business they have closed are no thanks to skill but to divine intervention.

We’ve given them all the right tools, and they go to meeting after meeting, sales call after sales call and cannot close business. They have a pipeline full of prospects they will never be able to close.

Just maybe, we could have done more to prepare the salespeople. Here are five keys to being an effective and productive sales manager, who makes even the most dismal sales team grow.

1. Be strong, and hold your people accountable. Your team is looking up to you for guidance. Usually, if the leader is weak, so is the team. It is important to remain strong even in the face of adversity and to always hold teammates accountable for their goals.

Does this mean badger them? No. Does this mean micromanage them? Absolutely not. But it does mean you have to stay on top of them and constantly encourage and support them. It means you have to be meeting your goals and encouraging your team members to meet their goals.

2. Coach – with a pre-call strategy and post-call debriefing. When the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl last year, did they get together one time five minutes before the game to go over plays? No. They practiced constantly. They reviewed game tape to identify weaknesses and how to best defeat the opposing team.

The same mentality and planning is needed to be successful on a sales call. Taping and reviewing sales calls with your team is imperative to their success. Practicing what to say on a sales call and being prepared for the stalls and objections the prospect is going to throw their way will help them develop the skills they need.

After you prepare your team with the necessary tools to go out on sales calls, it is imperative to come back and debrief. Find out what worked and what didn’t. The goal is to equip your team members with the knowledge and confidence to close new business. Closing the business is winning the game.

3. Motivation. Motivation comes from within. It is important to hire individuals who already have a certain level of motivation and determination. It is a manager’s job to constantly support and continue to provide inspiration and encouragement to your team.

Even individuals with the most determination and motivation in the world can sometimes feel down when they are not closing business and the economy is down. Managers have to be a sounding board for employees to vent their frustrations and then turn around and offer sound advice to help them go back and try again.

4. Grow your team quicker, stronger, faster. Growing a sales team takes patience and, most importantly, skill. In order for your company to be the best at what you do, it takes the best team. It takes the best operations, administration, products and sales. If one component doesn’t work properly, the entire system doesn’t function at its best.

Sales training and constant reinforcement is the best way to grow your sales team. In order for your marketing, legal, accounting and product development teams to become great, they had to have some type of training, mostly from colleges, and many of them continue to train through various avenues. Why is your sales team any different?

5. Constantly recruit team members. In order to be the best, you have to recruit the best. No company should take lightly its efforts to search for the best team members. It is important to benchmark them against your current team, and assess their skills and how they relate to the type of sales they will be performing. There are many different assessment tools available to sales managers to help them recruit the best and the brightest team.

Now, try this. As a leader, rank yourself in each of the five points on a scale of one to 10.

If your number is not a 10 in any of the areas, determine what you need to do differently. Management coaching for leaders is imperative to growth. The Steelers and the Packers didn’t get to the Super bowl by accident. They got there through the guidance of mentors and coaches that paved the way.

Brett Baker is a managing partner for TrustPoint Management Group in Springfield. He can be reached at brett@trustpointllc.com.[[In-content Ad]]

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