By Marty D. Blake, Chief Operating Officer, Optimé International Inc.
A BROAD PERSPECTIVE
I am fortunate enough to work with sales organizations across a multitude of industries. This experience gives me a great opportunity to see the good, the bad and the ugly of sales management. I prefer to focus on the ‘good’, as these examples of greatness always drive results and opportunities for growth. As I mentioned in my last post, ‘The Management Dilemma‘, leaders are often thrust into their roles with little or no support. In many cases, they are left unprepared in a ‘sink-or-swim’ scenario. vs. being supported in their development to become highly effective people managers.
Just because you have been a top-producing sales person does not make you ready to lead, motivate, train, direct, grow and manage a sales team of individuals. In fact, many of the traits that drive top-producing sales people become an obstacle for highly effective sales managers, such as competitiveness, self-motivation and singularly focused.
COMMUNICATION IS A TWO-WAY STREET
Good sales leaders understand the value of constant communication with their team. Let me underline that communication, in this sense, is a two-way street, not a single downward monologue dictating goals. Instead, the best sales managers engage in regular, ongoing, productive discussions at both the team and the individual levels. This is done by establishing a prioritized approach to organize both work and meetings. Setting up routines and rituals with your team and its members is a strong foundation for your organization. Sustaining those touchpoints and mandating participation is critical to your success. You and your team must understand that these ‘rituals’ must take priority over anything else. When this discipline is built into your team’s culture, you will see the results in your productivity.
So, what is regular you may ask? To be effective, I recommend the following type of schedule:
BE EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT WITH YOUR TIME
Simply establishing routines and rituals will not drive performance. You must use that time effectively and efficiently. Meetings should be approached with a consistent agenda and direct reports should be tasked with completing prep work in advance. Characteristics of the best meetings are those that don’t only rely on information sharing and updating but have a focus on solving problems that will push the individual’s and team’s objectives forward.
This is where the great sales managers separate themselves from the pack. They understand the different approaches (direct, coach, teach, mentor, motivate, correct) and when and how to use each for optimum effectiveness, with each person, in each situation. When working with our clients, we use a simple decision-making tool called The Performance Equation™, which at a glance, assists in identifying the best approach for a manager to take. The ‘tool’ ceases to be a ‘tool’ when top sales managers embed its thinking into their approach and behavior on a consistent basis, thus creating sustainable change.
From my vantage point, the best sales managers are great communicators and not just from the front of the room. They build strong 1:1 relationships with their people and commit to developing those relationships on a regular basis, making them a priority. Committing to these fundamental practices is key to being a high-performing sales leader.
Good luck and Good selling!