Leading a team and doing it well is a tall order, and even taller when it comes to sales.
You've probably seen it before. In a discipline that has long prized top performers, the best individuals often get tapped for management roles and are at a loss of how to manage effectively.
It's like having your quarterback try to coach the entire team. Just because an individual is a top performer doesn't mean they'll be able to get the best out of others.
However, being a good manager is a skill that can be learned, and like a muscle, that skill gets stronger the more you work at it. So how do you go about learning to be a great sales manager? The road is a long one, but we've assembled advice from 5 sales experts to help you on your way. Take a look.
“GET HELP! And get it fast. Ask for coaching. Find a mentor. Read books on leadership. Stay humble. Be courageous.”
-Dan Waldschmidt, Managing Partner at Waldschmidt Partners
As Dan suggests, it’s ok to ask for help. Learning any new skill is a difficult challenge and using all the resources available to you is the surest way to success.
“Be a scientist. The more objective you can make everything, the better. Try to map out your sales process and break down how you were able to be so successful so you can replicate it. If you try to turn everyone into an artist, it is going to be frustrating and won’t be scalable.”
-John Barrows, Sales Trainer
Before you can help others, it’s important to understand what made you a successful sales rep in the first place.
“Learn to listen. The role of sales managers has changed. It’s no longer about being a taskmaster; it’s about enablement and support. Hierarchical, prescriptive management is dead, don’t try to control everything. Communicate a vision instead; let people try to figure out how they are going to get there on their own.”
-Jim Keenan, Founder & Partner of A Sales Guy Consulting
Management is no longer about being a fearless leader. It’s about pointing your team in the right direction and letting them find their own way. This will help them to continue to grow and improve with every challenge.
“The best advice I have for a new sales manager is to help them understand that they will only be as successful as their team. As such they will need to coach their team on a daily basis to help them plan their selling activities to provide the maximum value and impact to their prospects.”
-Andy Paul, Sales Process Expert, Speaker, & Author
A manager can no longer call the shots from on high. It’s important to be on a level with your team and be available to help when a need arises.
“In the wise words of Grand Master Flash from the ‘80’s song ‘White Lines’: ‘Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t do it, do it, do it!’ Take a hard look. What makes you great as a salesperson will almost never translate to management”
- Dianna Smith, Founder of Irreverent Sales Girl
While sales leadership is a skill that can be learned, you need to make sure this is a position that you really want to hold. Your passion and excitement for the role is what inspires great teams. Without that drive, you may just be setting yourself up for failure.
What other advice would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
For even more expert advice, download your free copy of the new e-book “Sales Experts Answer Your Toughest Sales Management Questions.”