This blog contains content from Chapter 4 of our eBook - Coaching the Coaches: Five Lessons for Training Front-Line Sales Managers. Start from the beginning here.
“Someone is sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett
Great sales managers understand the difference between their number one goal and their number one job. While their number one goal may be to make the revenue number, their number one job is to develop people. To truly develop a team of people, managers have to be great at performing four distinct elements of a sales management role:
A great sales manager is a partner who builds up a team and builds trust within the team. Partnering means offering help when needed and asking of others only what you would ask of yourself. It means being willing to do the job with the team, not for the team. And if there is an aspect of the work that you as the manager are not an expert in, it means identifying the expert who can help the team.
A great sales manager serves the team collectively and individually. It means giving credit for deals to the appropriate team members, rather than claiming that victory yourself. It also means meeting people where they are. For example, if you tell a sales rep they are really good at closing deals, you don’t send them to a workshop on how to close deals. Maybe they need help negotiating better deals, so you find an opportunity that addresses developing that particular skill.
A great manager coaches and mentors team members. This is probably the biggest weakness in managers and undoubtedly the biggest opportunity for greatness. Some managers will forgo coaching because they don’t know how or don’t think they have the time. And they will instead rely on the rock star sellers. Perhaps they see a bit of themselves in these go-getters.
CONSIDER THIS EXAMPLE: A manager has five sales reps, including one overachiever and one who is falling well short of his monthly or quarterly quota. To ensure that the entire team – and the manager – make quota, the sales manager takes a deal from the underachiever and assigns it to the overachiever, saying, “Hey, close this deal. I need it now.”
This is short-sighted. For starters, you might be sacrificing what could have been a bigger deal if longer negotiations had been allowed. More importantly, you are giving up the opportunity to coach a seller, who could apply your training to each and every future deal.
Great managers are great coaches. They’re taking the long view. They understand the team is the strongest when everyone is playing their best game. One disappointing quarter can provide the motivation to train everyone to do better the next quarter and the next one after that. Great managers know every team member can be better with some coaching. They might just end up coaching the next great sales managers, too.