If your title is Sales Manager, or something similar, I’m writing to you. If you aren’t a sales manager but want to be, or even if you just want to be a more effective salesperson, I am writing to you too. My goal is to clarify the role of a Sales Manager.
Most would think of that job as managing sales, or making sure we do everything to make our numbers. And while, of course, we must focus on the sales numbers and the hundred activities that help make that happen, it still isn’t your whole job.
If you don’t agree with me, you will before you finish reading this article.
Your Rockstar Rep
You’ve got one, or maybe two. They know the product and the industry, they have great relationships with their Customers, they meet or beat the goals you give them. As a sales rep specifically, they are good. They know it, and have likely told you – “I know my stuff and am doing my job.”
After all, they make their numbers.
Yes, they are salespeople and, yes, you are a sales manager, but there is more than just contributing to the revenue goal that you want and need from them, right?
The Numbers Matter, But …
In my conversations with sales leaders (and listening to the conversations in my own head), they struggle with helping people see their full role. I’m betting you agree – while you want people to hit their sales goals, you also want them to:
Collaborate with the rest of the business. How is their communication with credit, and marketing and manufacturing? Do they share information, provide input and insight, and help when their help would be valuable? If not, are they really a rockstar?
Collaborate with other team members. Do they collaborate with the rest of the sales team? Do they assist and effectively communicate with the sales support team? Do they treat others as equals or as simply necessary to their “more important” work?
Mentor other sales reps. If they great sales reps, I bet you would like them to mentor others. Do they do that? Would they do that? Do they see the value in doing that?
See themselves as more than a lone wolf. Some “great” salespeople see themselves as a lone wolf, on their own, doing their own thing. Chances are, those that see themselves that way aren’t doing the other things on this list, and it is causing significant organizational and relational problems in the business. You want their entrepreneurial spirit, but you need them to see part of their job as being a part of the team too. Remember that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
And When They Work Remotely …
… it can be even worse. Studies continue to show that when people work remotely (salespeople and others), they are typically highly productive. They can get a lot done. And yet, some of the problems described above can be even likely when people work from their homes or far from the rest of the organization.
Productive, yes, but people become more insular and focused on their tasks – making collaboration a bit less likely, unless processes and leadership overcome those tendencies. These facts simply exacerbate the mindset that your sales team might already have.
Leading, Not Just Managing
You may be thinking I’m just describing the way the world is. And if you continue to think only as a sales manager, you may be right – if only the numbers matter, then there is really no reason to continue this conversation. But if what you have read resonates with you, or gives you a sharp pain in your stomach or the start of a headache, here are some things you can do to shift the story and improve your results.
Provide a Bigger Picture. Help people really see their role as a part of the larger organizational system. Remember how your perspective started to change as you moved into a management role and you started to see the world differently? Help your sales team to see that picture now. When they see their job as part of the larger organizational goal and objectives, and see the meaning those objectives can provide to others, you have a better chance to make the next suggestions work.
Change the Expectations. If the only thing that is discussed or rewarded is the numbers, you are telling people what you expect. If you want different levels of interaction, cooperation and collaboration, if you want them to mentor others, make sure they see that is part of the job expectation – and not just in a once a year performance review conversation.
Coach to Those Expectations. When you change their picture of what their job is, you must help them live up to those new expectations. This means you must make these new expectations part of your ongoing conversations and continue to reinforce the importance of these expectations.
Facilitate Relationship Building. Setting expectations is important, but when you facilitate ways for your sales team (especially if they are remote) to build better relationships with others, you change the dynamic. Once there is a relationship, your salespeople are more likely to want to help, collaborate and communicate – not because you are telling them it is their job, but because they want to help and support Joan or Jorge.