Hey Sales Managers: what's your vision?
I have true empathy for anyone and everyone in sales management roles – at any level. The job is very hard. There’s a number on your head, and probably a target on your back. (…revenue isn’t going up and to the right: blame the sales manager!)
In the case where a sales manager slides into a new job and adopts a new team, it’s extra hard for obvious reasons.
It’d be great if you could always pick your team from scratch when taking over a new role, but that’s not reality.
What you do in the first two weeks as a sales manager with a new team sets the tone for your credibility as a leader throughout your tenure. Trust cements quickly and big doses are needed to galvanize the team and affect positive results.
Having said that, I was somewhat stunned when a participant in one of my recent workshops explained he was in month ten and he hadn’t yet explained - or better said – “sold” his vision to his team. He explained they hadn’t been actively managed in the past (prior to his appointment) which he knows makes his methods seem draconian. (Well of course they’re not buying-in! They don’t know what to “buy-in” TO!)
He asked, “what do I do?” To which I replied, “schedule 1:1s with each of them NOW and think hard about how you’re going to explain what you stand for!”
Then the shoe dropped.
“What do I stand for?” he murmured.
“Well, what do you think you should ‘stand for’ as a sales manager?” I replied.
The other shoe. More gulping and silence.
I gave him the answer: “there’s only one thing you stand for when you are a sales manager…well, two actually....you stand for helping your people perform better in all facets of their job,” I responded. (The other, of course, is driving revenue!)
Your job as a sales manager is to help your people become better. And the key rests with your power to communicate and explain how you're going to do that!"
YES, you have to drive revenue. YES, you have to keep the trains running on time. YES, you have to represent what the sales team needs to company leaders. YES, you are the “face” of the org in the marketplace. YES, you have to hire (and fire). YES, YES, YES. But those skills can almost be viewed as commodities amongst sales managers…those are table stakes, as they say. To excel as a manager and truly impact change, you have to be committed 1,000% to helping those on your team improve performance.
But mostly, the sales manager's job is to help people become better.
The key to all of this rests with your power to communicate and explain how you’re going to help each individual be better...perform better! And, you have to communicate your plan frequently. Because that’s what people need. They need constant reinforcement and repetition around what’s expected of them, and, how you’re able to help them achieve against those expectations. (Of course, in return, they're obligated to actually do the work and make the effort!)
As our conversation stretched over lunch, I observed to my new friend that he appeared more at ease and less anxious about his major problem. For the same reason, I explained, his team would feel less anxious about his “active counseling” when he articulates his vision for their growth to them. It’s all because they’ll come out from the dark and understand his plan! And because they will soon understand that he’s there to help each of them, harmony and positive results will follow. No more mysteries, no more vagueness, no more being in the dark.
Nailing this leadership thing is easier than you think. You – and my new buddy – just have to prioritize and focus around the development of your people. Most problems with sales momentum and revenue growth refer back to the manager’s lack of attention on helping each team member.
If you still are wanting more about how to develop the plan, how to sell the vision, and how to communicate with all kinds of sellers...well, that’s why I get paid the big bucks. Call me: 917 207 5183.
Peace out/gobble gobble.
Selling.2.YES is the monthly newsletter published by Core 6 Management Advisors to enlighten, motivate and stimulate all of us sellers and sales managers on topics that need our attention.
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