A Few Habits of Street Smart Sales Managers

Do you ever feel like you’re working your butt off, but you’re not getting anywhere? Do you wake up in the morning already overwhelmed by all you need to do during the day? You’re not alone. That’s life for many sales managers, but it doesn’t have to be. A wise man once said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
Stop and evaluate your situation. Breathe. Take time out and assess where you are, what you’re doing and what you want to accomplish. The key word here is you. Not your boss, not your mother, not your significant other, not your kids, just you. This may seem selfish, but you will never succeed at anything if you spend most of your time trying to please others. If you fail, they’ll also suffer. 
Take a lesson from the airline pre-flight instructions that most people ignore: “In the event of the loss of cabin pressure, reach up and place the oxygen mask over your face before helping others. You can’t help your salespeople, or your company, if you’re dysfunctional.
Sales management is challenging when you have clearly defined goals. It’s almost impossible if you don’t know what you want to accomplish. Company goals and priorities can change with alarming frequency. The focus at different times can be on increasing sales, or on more market share, or more new accounts, or fewer but better-fit clients, on better margins, or new products, etc. The list is endless. 
Who knows what bug may infect the owner or management team at any given time? Sometimes they appear to be modeling themselves on the management style of Siegfried Farnon, the country veterinarian in James Herriot’s classic tale, All Creatures Great and Small. Regardless of what’s happening in your company, you need to stay focused. Here are a few tips from seasoned sales managers:

Habits of Street Smart Sales Managers

  • Have written goals and a plan to reach them, including a timeline.
  • Understand that your job is to generate sales through your sales team. You can’t do it alone.
  • Make sure you have the right salespeople on your team. This is critical.
  • Set clear expectations for results, activities and behaviors for each salesperson.
  • Track those expectations at least weekly … especially the activities.
  • Hold your salespeople individually accountable for their actions and their behaviors.
  • Provide ongoing training … sales, products or services and general business savvy.
  • Be a superior coach.
  • Know when to cut your losses. You can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.

If you follow the above steps you will be well on your way to becoming a successful sales manager.  One additional step differentiating the most successful sales managers from the others … they have a support system. Either a support group, or a good coach or mentor, to help them over the rough spots and keep them focused.

Look, sometimes you can do all the right things and still fail. Don’t let that slow you down. Consistent, effective behavior will get you the sales team you deserve. Start with what you’ve got right now and go for it.

I’m Oliver Connolly and I help sales management professionals create a sales force that consistently overachieves. Go here to grab some free tools to help you become a better sales manager.

Oliver Connolly