Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Most Sales Managers Fail

I take a lot of heat for saying that very few “Top Dog” sales people make good managers, but it is true.  The difference between being a successful Sales Manager and a Top Dog sales person is that you are responsible for other people’s results. A sales manager’s career and paycheck are dependent upon how hard others are willing to work for him.  A first line sales manager is responsible for attending meetings and helping others succeed.  Succeeding and keeping your job requires a mastery of leadership, motivation and sales process. 
Creating a desire in others to listen to and learn from you is the most difficult and satisfying part of any young sales manager’s job.  A Sales Rep’s willingness to listen to you or follow  your lead is based on his having the confidence that you have the ability and desire to help him.   If you are managing members of your former team, chances are that you seldom, if ever took time to help them.
A great sales manager possesses an understanding of how to motivate individuals.  This requires excellent coaching skills combined with a recognition that each individual is motivated quite differently.  To gain their confidence, you need to display confidence in their abilities.  You can achieve this by helping and listening to them, not by micromanaging or intimidating them.  I’m not saying that fear is an ineffective motivator.  Fear is very effective in motivating your top performers to work for someone else.  Those who have choices will exercise them. 
One of the biggest mistakes a new sales manager makes is assuming that his team is motivated in the same way he is.  Reps will have varying degrees of ability and talent.  Some members of your team will be more successful than others, and they will need you to tailor your leadership and assistance to their particular abilities.  Consider of a football team:  Not every player will be the high scorer, but you can’t have a winning team without some charismatic leaders, moderate scorers, and punters.  It is the job of the sales manager to highlight each team member’s role, recognize their contributions, and maximize their results.
The sales manager’s role is to help other people sell, not to do the selling for them.  Taking over sales calls or relationships will not help anyone on your team.  This will humiliate, anger and frustrate even the most talented reps.  Sales managers with the best overall performance are excellent coaches and motivators.  An NFL coach cannot run out onto the field and kick a field goal or catch a ball for his team.  His own performance is based on how other people perform.  Every sales manager goes into a training class believing that he could teach the information better than the trainer.  That is because they are seldom listening.  They are either doing all the talking or spending time or their laptops managing spread sheets. 
A good coach attends practice and is a good listener.  Can you imagine if the QB calls a time out to ask for his coach’s opinion and finds out that the Coach was on his blackberry the entire time?  A coach cannot improve his players’ performance if he didn’t see them practice.  It will be difficult to convince your team that you care if you cannot take the time to help them or listen to them without interruptions on your phone and blackberry. 
There is no sales manager in the world good enough to do his own job and sell enough to meet the entire team’s quota.  It is imperative that you realize early on that you need every Rep selling at his individual best quickly.   Adults learn by practicing, by reviewing their mistakes, and by creating and owning a plan for improvement.  You cannot hold your Reps accountable for their failures if you are taking credit for their successes.
An inspired sales person will multiply the motivation, excitement and inspiration of others, making the sales manager’s job much easier.  Ask yourself:  Am I inspiring others to do better or trying to do it for them?  Do I revel in their success or am I attempting to take the credit? As a sales person would I have been inspired by my actions or humiliated by them?  Aspire to be the sales manager you always wanted.