It is difficult to overstate the importance of the front-line sales manager. Front-line management is the pivotal job for creating a great sales team. It is also a job that is increasingly complex and demanding.
Ask most sales managers and they’d say that it is a time-balancing act. Requests come from all directions: from folks who want to know about revenue targets, to tough complains from key customers, to requests for better communications from other departments and of course, for responses to those ever-present e-mails from corporate.
So in all that clutter, it is sometimes difficult to think and act about things that everyone knows are important but are less immediate. One such item is – devoting time to develop trust. Doing things that build a real trust relationship with your sales team.
As a sales manager your ability to elicit your team’s best efforts depends on their trust in you – their confidence that they can count on their sales manager to do the right thing at the right time.
Trust is a foundational requirement in the sales manager-sales team relationship. The more a sales team trust its manager to do the right thing, the more likely it is that the sales team will be willing to be influenced by that sales manager. Why does it matter? Well, managers can demand compliance, but they must earn commitment – which requires trust.
Believing that trust will just happen doesn’t work. Managers must make a conscious effort, devoting time and energy to developing trust. In that regard there are no universal best practices – there are however some actions that are worth exploring. Let’s take a look at a short list.
- Be a filter not a funnel. Protect the sales team from all those requests from all those sources that take the team away from selling – versus just covering your back by passing everything along to the sales team.
- Share why. Share the reasons behind decisions as much as possible.
- Don’t fall into the trap of not understanding the business. Devote time and effort to making sure you are up to speed with the state of the business.
- Help. Go out on sales calls with your reps when the assistance from a sales manager is truly needed to move the sales cycle forward.
- Coach. Take coaching seriously – get good at it and make time to do it.
Getting a sales team to “go that extra mile” every day, all the time doesn’t happen automatically. A part of the equation for making that happen rests in laying a foundation of trust.
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©2012 Sales Horizons, LLC