A Sales Manager's 5-Step Checklist

Posted: 29/06/2016




    By Brett Lyons

What is a sales manager really meant to be: a leader, manager, coach or sales person?

When we take time to pick apart the role of the sales manager, this can become unclear.  In some companies, sales managers are there to set strategy, manage performance, lead, manage, and coach their teams. In others, sales managers must also be sales people.

There’s no universal answer, because every company is different. But there are certain considerations that must be factored in to make sure a sales manager is performing the right role for your organisation.

For example, If a sales manager oversees a team of 8 salespeople, they’ll be responsible for managing performance, business analysis, field coaching, one-to-one meetings, team meetings and all the upward management usually involved with a sales management role. However, if the sales manager has a team of, say, three people, then it’s reasonable to expect that the role would carry some sales responsibility. But, other than team size, how do you know the difference?

Consider these 5 things:

  1. The Right Role

Does the sales manager really want to manage? Title and status can be seductive; but when faced with doing the job, the sales manager who prefers making sales to leading and developing the team is in the wrong job.

  1. Our Best Sales Person

A common mistake that can seriously damage careers. Too often I have heard the comment:

“We promoted X to sales manager because he was our best sales person.”

A decision based on the inaccurate assumption that the best sales people make the best sales managers.

  1. Strategic Thinking

A critical part of leadership and management is ensuring the future. If the sales manager is actively involved in sales, then it should be with high value customers where the manager’s involvement helps to retain and grow profitable business.

Equally, if the manager does not have personal customers there is still a responsibility to support the sales team in key relationships.

  1. Personal Development

Organisations will spend vast amounts of money on developing sales people, then assume that sales management skills just happen.

If you don’t provide a sales manager with the training and coaching to develop, the individual will struggle, and the result is lost confidence and a lack of self-belief. The consequence is that the individual will go back to a strength – selling!

  1. Lack of Trust

It only needs two things to happen for trust to be lost:

First: the sales manager does not believe the sales team have the capability to hit sales targets.

Second: the sales manager does not know how to lead, manage and develop the team.

The consequence is that the sales manager tries to make sales targets by contributing high levels of personal sales and the sales team feels neglected.

This is a short-term remedy that does not lead to a profitable future!

So, what can you do?

First, define the role. Do you want your sales manager to manage or to sell?

Second, profile the role. Use a psychometric assessment that will tell you if the individual is right for a sales management role.

Third, train and develop. Equip your sales manager with the skills and behaviours to build and lead a successful team.

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