“Hit the numbers!” is how most people respond.
While this is true, it really doesn’t answer the question. Hitting the numbers is the net effect of what the sales manager does.
Most employees arrive in the sales manager role by continuously being a top revenue producing salesperson. To successfully make the transition from salesperson to sales manager, you have to switch your thinking. A salesperson creates revenue and a sales manager drives revenue.
In order to drive revenue, the sales manager must know what to drive, and how to do it. The problem is that no one ever explains how to do that when transitioning from salesperson to sales manager. The sales manager at that point usually flounders until they figure out that the revenue generation tactics used as a salesperson fail miserably as a sales manager.
Here is what an effective sales manager should be doing:
Coaching: This includes pre-call strategizing and post-call debriefing.
Motivating: The sales manager has to shake their salespeople out of bed in the morning, and make sure their head is on straight. After the day is done, they need to tuck them in at night and reassure them that tomorrow will be a better day.
Accountability: Actions and behaviors come before revenue, but it’s most likely that the sales people are assigned to and focused only on a revenue goal. The sales manager needs to hold them accountable to daily behaviors. This is exceptionally important because those behaviors are the activities that generate revenue.
Direction: Where is the sales team headed? Why are they headed there? How will they know when they reach the final destination? What resources are needed to get to the final destination? Who do we sell to, and how do we sell it? These are just some of the questions salespeople need to ask, or the sales manager needs to tell them.
Hiring “A” Players: Identify, find, screen, and recruit stronger sales players than you have right now. Do this by tracking and reporting leading and lagging indicators.
Communication: Have the salespeople report what is going on within the department. Leaders do not want surprises! Reporting down from the sales manager is also important to keep all staff informed on the state of the company. Salespeople need confidence in the company, its products/services, the industry, and marketplace – daily.
Mentoring: This entails figuring out what the salespeople want to get out of their careers, other than a paycheck. Once this is identified, help them map out their steps to get there.
Consistency: Sales can be an emotional roller coaster. The high point is making a sale, and then the low point is losing one. The high point is getting thanks from a customer, and then the low point is having a co-worker misfire on the delivery. Because of this emotional roller-coaster, the sales manager has to be the most consistent, even-tempered person in the salesperson’s work life.
Team Advocate: The sales manager has to go to bat for the salespeople and communicate what they need from other departments within the company. They have to figure out how their department functions efficiently with other departments, and break down barriers leading to inefficiencies.
Find a sales manager that can execute consistently in these areas, and you’ll not only have a sales department, but a sales force.