5 Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers
Between lengthening sales cycles and shrinking budgets, the average sales rep is facing some serious pressure to close the deal. As a sales manager, your job is to keep your sales reps motivated, encouraged and hungry for the next sale – while also holding your team accountable to sales goals and deadlines, despite the challenging economy. In the face of this pressure, the average sales manager could easily feel overwhelmed, uninspired and downright overworked. This is especially true if you have one or more sales reps who are starting to flounder and are failing to make their numbers.
1. Balance management with leadership
It’s easy to fall back on performance metrics as the sole indicator for your team’s success or failure. After all, reps that fail to hit their numbers aren’t bringing in the revenue the company needs to keep growing. Effective sales managers are able to find that delicate balance between managing a team by keeping a close eye on metrics and leading a team by inspiring sales reps on a personal level. By keeping a close eye on small changes in performance numbers, effective sales managers can spot when a team member is not performing as effectively as he could and provide the necessary leadership to correct this problem.
2. Inspire confidence
Highly effective sales managers inspire confidence by giving their sales reps exactly the amount of autonomy they need to go close the deal – while still providing sufficient structure to keep their reps focused on the mission at hand. Striking this balance between autonomy and structure isn’t easy, but it’s essential to keeping reps on track to hitting their numbers. Effective sales managers understand that a standardized schedule is important not only for good management, but also for eliminating unnecessary demands on a sales rep’s time that would otherwise not detract from revenue building activities.
3. Build a stronger sales team
Great technical skills will only take your sales reps so far; they need to have great interpersonal skills that will help them effectively connect with potential leads and also mesh well with your existing sales team members. When recruiting candidates for the sales team, successful managers recruit to fill an empty role, rather than just onboard another rep. For example, managers take the time to consider whether their sales team needs a “doer” or a “builder” and which existing team members have the most potential for upward growth at the company. This process helps sales managers better identify their team’s current strengths and weaknesses so they can recruit the right sales rep to fill the gaps and build a stronger team.
4. Keep the team moving forward despite multiple egos
Not everyone can hack it as a sales rep. It’s a tough job where individuals need to be prepared for a lot of rejection – and they also need to be incredibly confident and drive to keep pushing for the sale. In fact, one might say that the standard profile for a sales rep includes someone who is even slightly narcissistic. This personality trait that may be effective for closing deals, but it can be a huge challenge to manage. Effective sales managers are able to manage multiple touchy personalities so as to maximize performance while minimizing internal conflict.
5. Manage the sales process with the right sales technology
Effective sales managers understand that the best way to manage the sales process is through the use of sales technology. Marketing automation software has made managing the inbound sales pipeline much more efficient, thanks to streamlined data analysis and real-time updates. Marketing automation software brings agility, speed and adaptability to the sales team while improving efficiency, minimizing data entry, and providing full-integrated analysis of lead generation data. Furthermore, the centralized storage of marketing data, such as detailed information on lead interactions and behaviors, will improve the list segmentation and targeting process – ensuring your sales reps are spending their time on the most highly qualified leads that are ready to convert.
While there is no formula for the “perfect” sales manager, effective sales managers do exhibit clear behavior patterns and specific personality traits that help them build effective teams, keep these teams motivated, and drive performance.