There’s an interesting proverb that says, “An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. Sales managers that get more sales are like those lions. Hopefully your team of salespeople are more than just metaphorical sheep. Here’s what a lion leading a successful sales team looks like to ensure your sales team’s success.
Find the spark that you can develop.
All the salespeople you’ve hired have potential. Isn’t that why you hired them? Your job is to develop that potential into performance. Some salespeople don’t realize what their strengths are. Your job is to find those strengths and point them out. Then do what you can to remove any obstacles that get in the way of executing those strengths.
A salesperson who is successful closing business with new prospects might be helped with an inside salesperson who can focus on setting appointments. Having someone else setting appointments puts the salesperson in front of more prospects to potentially close more business. Selling to new prospects is better use of his time instead of making telephone calls.
Regularly get feedback to get more sales.
Mayor Koch, the late three-term Mayor of New York City was known for walking around the city and greeting everyone he met. His effusive greeting was, “How am I doing?” You should be asking your salespeople regularly, “How am I doing?” in a sincere way to get honest feedback. Just remember, it might be difficult for them to tell you where you need improvement. You might find it hard to listen to criticism.
Make it easier to get honest feedback. Be specific about what information you want to gather. You can ask, “Am I sending too many, too few or just about the right amount of emails?” Then gauge the nonverbal communication you get with the answer. Any hesitation means the person might not feel comfortable telling you what they really think.
Some more assertive people will have no trouble giving some tough feedback. Avoid getting defensive. Simply ask, instead of trying to explain yourself, “What specifically can I do better?”
Psychologists say that the lack of clear social norms now flies against our desire for certainty. You may doubt that need for certainty. Think about your comfort shaking hands in a post-vaccinated Covid world. Should you shake hands? Do you want to shake hands? Can you avoid shaking hands? Each thought has probably entered your mind and your unease. We like certainty.
People want clarity to know where they stand with their manager. Politics in business complicates this clarity with your manager. The lack of clarity is a problem with employees and especially salespeople.
The lack of clarity is a problem for salespeople because so much of their work requires special approvals where favoritism could demotivate a team. There are always price requests to management for discounted pricing with specific clients. Emergency deliveries often need special attention and management’s approval. What happens when a manager turns down more requests from some team members than others? The requests often stop coming and sales start to go down.
Your job as a manager is to be aware of who is easier for you to work with and who presents more challenges for you in your working relationship. Your work is to treat everyone so they perceive you are being fair and not showing favorites. Look over your recent business approvals. Would your decisions be perceived as being fair? That’s the clarity sales teams need to see so sales managers gets more sales.
There are many descriptions of what sales leadership is and should be. I think Eleanor Roosevelt got it right about the lion leading sheep when she said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”