As a sales manager, are you feared or possibly avoided by the field salespeople in your charge? Do your salespeople view you as an asset or liability? Are you actually an asset or a liability to them? Is it obvious that you are a company team player or rather that you appear to seek corporate approval at all costs? How do you view your responsibilities?
As a self-test, do you regularly engage in any of the following?
1. Demand an itinerary from each salesperson for each week?
2. Demand detailed call reports?
3. Demand that all field decisions be approved by you?
4. Regularly travel with your salespeople?
5. When in the field, do take charge of the sales calls or allow your salespeople to lead?
6. Question all strategies and judgments of your salespeople?
7. Squelch your salespeople's creativity?
8. Place all salespeople in a one-size-fits-all mold of expectation?
9. Micro-manage each of your salespeople's territory?
10. Attempt to limit the income of your salespeople?
Have you assembled a team of inexperienced people to generate sales or do you have experienced, capable professionals out in the field? Frankly, if you are applying any of the above referenced management techniques on a team of experienced professionals, you will likely lose their respect, successful efforts and possibly their employ as they will surely feel confined and unable to exhibit the successful selling skills that they have garnered. Successful, experienced salespeople cannot thrive in such an environment.
If your team is comprised of novices, several of the above techniques may be necessary for a finite time as your field salespeople mature, acquiring relevant experience. While developing novices, never squelch their creativity, micro-manage or usurp control of their aily activities. You must instead groom them. Teach them. Inspire them.
There are no naturally-born salespeople, only well-trained and educated sales professionals. Successful salespeople are trained, motivated and cultivated, the same as you would expect from any other professional field. The need for and fulfillment of ongoing sales skill development is directly proportional to one's sales success. Companies must provide access to professional sales training schools and materials to ensure the professional development of their salespeople. However, when it comes right down to the point where the "rubber meets the road," the individual salesperson must be totally responsible for their own training and development. Most accept this requirement as a realistic expectation and a critical precedent for sales success. Professional salespeople are prepared, educated and excited about opportunities to provide sales solutions in the field. They do not require hand-holding.
A sharp sales manager encourages an individual's responsibility for their own success and development. A great sales manager creates an environment where sales professionals can thrive and continuously develop. A great sales manager inspires greatness. He nows that skilled salespeople will continue to deliver superior sales results, even in a down economy. Superior salespeople will always find a way to generate sales success in their marketplace.
The outstanding sales manager that desires to catch the "eye" of corporate management knows that it is solely the bottom-line sales and profitability figures that will be noticed. He or she must be a team player, a resource and advocate for the successful salesperson. A superior sales manager encourages the growth and comfort zone expansion of their sales force without seeking individual credit for it. They inspire creative approaches in the field. The successful sales manager has assembled a team of inspired, motivated, fulfilled and high-income-earning salespeople. It is the results generated by this exceptional team that will denote them as a winner.
Sales managers that operate in this manner will experience less stress, greater productivity and consistently growing sales, making them a keeper in the eyes of corporate management. This translates into increased earnings and job fulfillment for both the sales manager and his team. Everybody wins.