Sales managers – assess your performance last year and adapt!

High Performing Sales Manager Puzzle

Sales managers are starting the new year, making plans to meet (and hopefully exceed) sales goals and reviewing their territory for sales opportunities. While these activities definitely are necessary, top performing sales managers share there’s an additional piece to the top performing sales manager puzzle.

Sales managers must take a look at their past performance to determine what did and didn’t work – and why. As mentioned in a HBR blog,  “All of us fall into unproductive habits, sometimes unconsciously. Good managers are always asking themselves and others about what they could do better or differently. Finding the right time and approach for asking these questions in a way that invites constructive and candid responses is critical.”

Applying to sales … it’s important for sales managers to take an assessment of their performance last year and consider what worked, what didn’t and what they will do differently this year. This can be done anytime, but it is especially pertinent at the beginning of a new year. Yet, under the banner of getting off to a quick start, action often takes precedents over a few moments of self-assessment.

This is short-sighted. Sales managers should take a few moments to assess how they will manage their sales teams during the coming year. A good starting point is to reflect on their performance as a sales manager.  In addition sales managers need to realistically assess the composition and capacity of their sales team.

Here’s a starter list of 10 questions to get started on that self-assessment of the sales team.

  1. With whom on my sales team should I be spending the most time coaching? least time?
  2. What skill sets does my sales team as a whole need to develop further in order to succeed this year?
  3. How can I conduct sales strategy review sessions more efficiently – more effective than the ones held last year?
  4. How can I improve the quality of feedback I share with my sales team?
  5. How can I help my sales team leverage institutional resources?
  6. Under what conditions should I participant in sales calls – how does that differ by the individual team member?
  7. What can I do specifically for top performers?  Low performers?
  8. How can I increase the percentage of time my team spends selling to customers?  What is the major time sink?
  9. What can I do to increase the over all excitement and motivation of the team?
  10. What is one innovative idea I should try to increase the sales productivity of the team?

As I mentioned, we’ve written a lot about sales management and sales management coaching in the Sales Training Connection. Some of our most popular posts are:

Sales management – pitfalls and perils of power

Sales coaching – who to and not to coach

Sales coaching feedback – don’t forget the positive

Sales performance management – what is it really?

Three self-imposed pitfalls facing new sales managers

Eleven questions for sales coaches

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2012 Sales Horizons, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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