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In the sales profession, managers have the opportunity to impact their organizations productivity, whose success is grounded in the approach they take to mentor and manage their sales team. It is very similar to being a captain on a sports team. There is a clear goal to win by reaching and exceeding goals, but getting there takes motivation, leadership and focus.
Becoming the sales manager your team needs requires continued vigilance as you handle and balance the strengths, weaknesses and personalities within your sales team.
Here are some areas sales managers can reflect on to evaluate if they are providing the type of management their team needs to succeed:
Do you have a clear example of sales success? Providing concrete examples of how deals were prospected, nurtured and closed helps your sales team see what works and how to approach new customers in the pipeline. Tell the story of success and make it easy for your team to understand what effective sales strategies look like. It will help them apply similar concepts to get results.
How is knowledge and best practices shared? With a diverse group of salespeople, each member of your sales team will have their own approach and preferences to training and development. Do you have a training or mentoring program in place to help newer or struggling salespeople get up to speed? Developing a system to expand and develop sales skills training will help those climbing the knowledge ladder reinforce their abilities and build confidence.
Is your pipeline and sales forecast real? It is important that you have the opportunity to gauge, predict and track what your sales forecast will look like over several quarters at a time. Your CRM system should be a tool to access this knowledge, so you can plan and take action on ensuring a healthy flow of revenue in the future. This means guiding your sales team to capture real opportunities. It also means reflecting on your past predictions and tuning your sales approach into a base for nurturing future revenue.
How can your salespeople become more productive? If your salespeople are spending more time focusing on office bureaucracy than building revenue, your sales are suffering. Identifying what is creating friction for your sales team is a continuous concern. You must remove barriers to make selling easier and more motivating. Identifying the key activities that lead to closing deals and minimizing what does not matter, will help your team stay focused.
Do you regularly celebrate success? A way to demotivate a team is to focus on their faults. In order to encourage and motivate your sales team, it is important to find specific and concrete examples of their successful moments and look at how they can build upon them. Be alert and praise your team for their accomplishments, so they know they are appreciated. Try honouring outstanding members of your sales team in front of their peers; it makes management more fulfilling.
Are you a good sales talent scout? A large variable in sales success lies within the talent of individual salespeople. If you have a rock star salesperson, find ways of recruiting new employees with similar traits. A key tool you can utilize is psychometric assessments, as they evaluate and compare candidates to key success benchmarks that you set. Like a good coach, it's your job to always be on the lookout for talent that will help your team succeed, not just when you need it.
There are many fronts to manage as a sales leader, especially when you are continually looking for ways to improve your sales team. Regularly reflecting on your own focus and management practices will help you build a world-class sales team that regularly produces revenue. Think about the long-term culture and system you are building, to create a selling machine. Teams need leadership and managers can make a large impact with strategic self-reflection on their own approach to the art of sales management.
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