As the profession of sales evolves, new younger employees are welcomed in the sales force, the sales managers need to evolve with the change as well. Here are some skills that set certain sales managers apart from all others.
Skills that separate the best sales managers from others:
1. Tech savvy:
With more and more millennials entering the sales force, they bring with them the expectation of leveraging technology in everything that they want to do. If as a sales manager, you are not able to keep pace with them, you could potentially lose respect in their eyes. In addition, it is a fact that good sales managers will use and leverage everything at their disposal to increase the effectiveness of their leadership and their team’s ability to bring in new business. So, being tech savvy is becoming more and more important if one wants to do well as a sales professional, more so, if one is a sales manager.
2. Focus on Quadrant 2 activities:
One of the important thing that almost everyone around me seems to want more and more of and is loosing more and more of is their ability to focus on a single topic for a length of time (a few hours, if needed). As a sales manager, if one is able to show develop and exhibit this kind of focus, it earns not only respect among peers and team members but also helps one achieve a lot more done. Add to it if the focus is on the quadrant 2 activities (as defined by Steven Covey in his seminal book – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), the impact of this focus is multi-fold. This also shows one’s team the importance of focusing on Q2 activities. We can see this all around us that people acquire habits of their managers, whether it is certain slangs that they use or çertain behaviors that they exhibit. By showcasing great Q2 focus, a sales manager encourages his team to do the same, which when the team does, leads to spectacular results.
3. Team First:
Most sales managers that I have seen use competition among their team members to motivate and push them to get better results. This works for some time and then doesn’t work. This also creates a culture where no one helps anyone else. On the contrary great sales managers foster a team spirit among their teams. They encourage the team members to help each other out, not only in mundane and unimportant things but also in critical sales situations by either covering for a teammate or helping create a proposal or even brainstorm on how to approach or tackle a tough prospect. They compete not with the team but work as a team to compete in the competition. They will stand by their team no matter what. They are loyal to their team to a fault and thereby generate the same kind of loyalty from their teams as well. Creating such a culture sets a sales manager apart from all other sales managers.
4. Hiring & Firing:
Great sales managers are very good at hiring great sales professionals. They clearly know what kind of skillets are required to do well in their organisation and are able to find ways to separate the potential candidates with the relevant skillsets. They are also constantly on the lookout for good candidates, irrespective of whether they have a headcount or not. They identify potential hires before the need for them arise. Similarly, they only fire people on their team for attitude, culture fit and lack of effort or intention. They are able to train or coach others to become better. If that doesn’t work, they prefer to help them move to a different team rather than fire them.
5. Remove roadblocks:
If you ask sales professionals what frustrates them the most, they are more likely to share that the struggle that they face internally, within their organisation to close deals frustrates them the most. This happens due to a host of reasons, that the MD or COO needs to address. While they are being addressed, great sales managers work internally within their organisations to align with other departments and forge strong bonds, so that they are able to remove roadblocks for their team members when it comes to closing out transactions. They also shield their team members from all the office politics or teach them how to navigate the same so that they can do what is the right thing to do for their customers and the organisation,
These are some of the most critical traits that almost all great sales leaders possess and display. The question now is, do you possess these attributes. If not, what are you doing to acquire them? One other quality that all of them share is their passion for continuous improvement. They constantly learn either by reading books, learn from others, listen to podcasts or attend sales conferences or training. You can do as well. Some of these are character traits that you need to inculcate in your self and others are skills that one can learn if one has the yearning to learn and improve.
Do you want to develop these traits? What are you willing to do to gain them?