Driving the top line growth of a company falls squarely on the shoulders of the sales management leadership. This is often not clearly communicated and sometimes it’s unsupported.
I remember the time when a sales acquaintance called to tell me that he had competed for a coveted sales management position and got it. Not in so many words I got the sense that he felt he could now relax and simply push the people on the team to achieve the success he wanted. It’s my belief that he applied and got the toughest job in the building.
Like any job, it can be executed with strategy, using proven skills to develop positive attitudes, and productive behaviours or it can be a haphazard approach where the focus is “get the money” and “I don’t care how you do it”. The latter thankfully isn’t the norm but neither is the former.
The role of the sales manager is complex and needs techniques and systematic processes. The sales management role is a completely different skill set than that of the salesperson and is more than simply managing the revenue scorecard. It would be great if it was simply telling people to hit their numbers and having it happen. Managing the numbers is part of the sales management gig and I don’t want to undermine the importance of hitting those numbers but it’s hardly within any one person’s control.
Developing business is a multifaceted discipline with many moving parts. Motivating and managing people are only part of the job. Here are a few questions for you to consider. Answer them honestly…
1) Do you get tired of “babysitting” and “holding hands”?
2) Are you constantly trying to figure out what motivates your salespeople?
3) Is much of your day spent putting out fires and helping develop presentations?
4) How often do you hire people that don’t work out?
5) Is it a struggle to get people to hit their monthly targets?
It is our job as a sales leader to help our people be successful. Telling them their numbers are excellent or that they seem to be struggling will confirm what we and they already know. That’s the supervision aspect of sales management. It doesn’t isolate the problem or address how to change the results. What are you doing to turn this around?
The reality is you cannot manage the numbers. You can only manage behaviour. Leadership must provide strategic and tactical systems that set standards. There must be a level of accountability that everyone on the team supports. Use the history to define the future. How many prospects were needed to develop the revenue you had last month? What behaviours led to success? If you have data like the average sale and the closing ratio, you can develop the formula for success.
What are you as the sales leader doing to teach and reinforce sales techniques on a continuous basis? Does every sales meeting include sales training? It’s our responsibility to develop the people who develop the sales. That’s our accountability.