Sales managers can and should be playing a very key role within your sales organization. In fact, they may be having a much bigger impact on your bottom line than you realize. But somehow, the sales manager role often becomes overlooked, underutilized, or both.
Here are five ways to manage, train and inspire future performance from these key players within your organization.
1. A good salesperson won’t necessarily be a good manager.
The skills necessary to manage and coach sales professionals are much different than those required to close sales, and very few individuals are instinctually equipped to do both.
Before automatically promoting your top sales professional to sales manager, take the time to determine where they really are in terms of skillset, and provide the right level of support. Although they may be able to create connections with their new sales reps; making connections and effectively coaching are two different things.
2. Their values should align with your organization’s values.
Keep in mind, that your sales manager is truly a middleman. More often than not, they are tasked with being a communication liaison between leadership and salespeople. This means they have the ear of the sales team so it’s important that they are communicating the appropriate messages.
And, as most messaging comes from the top down, it’s vital that leadership is setting the right example. If not, and your sales managers don’t communicate in a way that upholds company values, it can become an issue for everyone involved.
3. Their responsibility mix affects their performance.
When you’re assessing the performance of a sales manager, take into consideration their range of responsibilities. Are they free to devote all of their time to the coaching and development of their reps, or are they expected to divide time between managing and performing sales in some capacity? There are actually pros and cons to both situations.
If a manager is free to focus on sales coaching and development, they can drill down to determine the true strengths and weaknesses of each of their reps. They can also take the time to work together with reps in strategically moving toward solutions for those weaknesses or challenges.
On the other hand, when a manager maintains at least a small amount of actual sales responsibilities, it can serve to help them keep their finger on the pulse. Once they get too far removed from firsthand sales interactions it can be harder to relate to what their reps are experiencing.
4. Sales managers should never stop being developed.
There is plenty of buzz around executive training and sales rep training and development, but what about the further development of sales managers?
Coaching and managing are unique skillsets that need their own brand of training and reinforcement. Where sales reps benefit from enhanced selling skills, managers benefit from coaching skills and increased business acumen. Remember, these individuals are placed right in the middle because they’re expected to have the knowledge to deal with executives and the resources to relate to their sales team.
5. They should be identified and developed as early as possible.
Sometimes there are sales reps (regardless of whether they are exceptional or they fall in the middle of the pack) that exemplify or embody the attributes of a great manager. Perhaps they have a knack for giving advice or delivering constructive criticism to their peers. Maybe you’ve observed peers asking them for help with particular sales challenges.
Whatever form it takes, managerial promise tends to surface early on in a sales career. Even if it’s too early to think about promoting these individuals, don’t lose sight of their development. Do whatever you can to nurture and improve their skills. The sooner you can put them on the path to becoming a great sales manager, the better.