Think about new sales managers you’ve known. Were they promoted for their sales management expertise – or for their sales success? Often it’s for their sales success. So what happens after the sales manager assumes the role and responsibilities of their new position? Even after some initial guidance most new sales managers find themselves trying to figure out how to balance the requirements of the position.
Often “paperwork” like CRM systems, HR concerns, and other administrative requirements take precedence. Additionally many new sales managers are inundated by their sales team with fires to put out. Few new sales managers find themselves “ahead of the curve” – proactively coaching their sales team.
These institutional obstacles are difficult for an individual sales manager to avoid because they don’t go away – so the answer centers on time management not prevention. On the other hand, there are some self-imposed pitfalls that can be avoided. Let’s take a look at three:
1. Because their sales success has led to the promotion, most new sales managers believe the way they sell works well – so the inclination is their sales team should use similar strategies. So, when a sales person wants to pursue a sales strategy that differs from how the new sales manager would attack the account, tension often arises because each thinks their strategy is better. For argument’s sake, let’s say the sales manager’s strategy is better. But the key question is: Does the sales person have the experience and skills to execute it successfully? Just because a sales strategy or sales technique works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for another. And in the end … if the sales person “gives in” to the sales manager and isn’t successful, there is resentment and lost revenue.
An alternative approach is for the sales manager to spend time up-front understanding each sales person’s strengths and weaknesses and coaching then on an approach that fits each individual. It takes more time, but the long-term payoff is substantial.
2. New sales managers often hold the reins a bit too tight. It’s impossible to script and/or approve every interaction between a sales person and a customer. If sales people have to go back to their sales manager to get an answer to every customer request – no matter how small it is – the sales person becomes frustrated, and looks “small” in the customer’s eyes since now only the sales manager has the answers. And the new sales manager? He/she is inundated with emails, voice mails, and texts containing issues needing to be addressed. In these cases the new sales manager becomes a bottleneck – resulting in declining customer satisfaction and even revenue declines!
3. The most effective sales managers have told us that they’re a “filter, not a funnel”. Simply put, they filter the unnecessary information “coming down” from the division or central office and only funnel to their sales team the information the sales person needs to succeed. As they explain, we’re “eliminating the clutter and freeing up more time for the sales person to spend on selling.” Unfortunately too many new sales managers don’t eliminate the clutter and their sales teams spend a disproportionate amount of time playing with “paperwork” rather than calling on customers. This can be difficult for a new sales manager but the sooner it happens the better.
Today it is more important to have a superior sales force. It is safe to say that it is near impossible to have a superior sales force without having a great group of front-line sales managers – front-line sales managers are the pivotal job for driving sales excellence.
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©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC