This question was posed over at the small business question and answer forum Focus.com yesterday;
What are the essentials to become a great sales manager?
The answers ranged from being a good communicator, to moving from getting results yourself to getting results through others, to accountability, to providing support and setting high expectations. The answers to the questions were good but to be expected.
Here are a few excerpts from the some of the answers:
A great sales manager understands that her salespeople are unique individuals. They have their own way of gaining clients. They should be nurtured as well as held accountable. A mistake sales managers make is trying to force a process on their sales people; a process they can’t do effectively. -Dianne
Great managers make sure they equip their people with the right strategies, processes, systems, tools, training, and resources to succeed. -Dave
When one of the sales people is having trouble, the sales manager steps in to assist and steer the person in the right direction and must take corrective action if necessary – so one of the traits needed is to have the ability needed to confront a subordinate who is not meeting the goals and objectives in a constructive way. — Bob
Equally important, the sales manager also needs to be able to analyze your position in a sales opportunity and guide you through the next step. — Todd
To be a great sales manager, he himself should be a great and super sales man. As many other replies, a great sales manager to be a good coach, motivator and super communicator. — Raj
These are all good descriptions of good sales managers. However, I don’t think they are what make great sales managers. Great sales managers have a very unique skill that is almost impossible to find and more importantly impossible to teach. It’s the ability to get more out of people than people can get out of themselves.
We all have our own motivations. Each of us strive to achieve. Some of us set the bar high, others low. Regardless of where we set the bar and how hard we work, individually we are unable to maximize our abilities alone. To reach our peak, to be the best we can be, requires help — a coach. Great sales managers recognize this and don’t just look to support or communicate or hold their people accountable, they look to grow and expand them. Great sales managers have the ability to see deeper into people, than people can see in into themselves. Great sales managers use the power of objective insight to empower, direct, motivate and get more out of people than they get out of themselves.
All people have a blind spot. Each one of us. This blind spot is called Johari‘s window. Our blind spot is that part of us that we don’t see, that everyone else does. We are blind to certain things we don’t like or are inconsistent with our own definition of self. Although we can’t see it, everyone else can. These blind spots cost us, as we are unaware of our actions. The blind spots are also the personal positive assets that we could be benefitting from yet, we are unaware. Identifying and embracing our blindspots is critical to growth and success. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to shed light on blindspots without the help of others. This is where GREAT sales managers come in.
Great sales managers go beyond communication, support, accountability, direction, process, etc. Great sales managers work with our blind spots. Great sales leaders have amazing vision and insight into their people and know how to leverage that insight to get more from them than people can get from themselves. Great sales managers know how to push people past their own preconceived limits without breaking them. They know how to get people to take risks they wouldn’t normally take. They are able to get people to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Great sales managers take people to higher-levels of achievement.
Great sales managers are the opposite of poor sales managers. Poor sales managers drive under-performance. When poor sales management is in place, teams underperform. Not only are their people not stretched, they’re not achieving what they are easily capable of. Poor sales management creates an environment where people dont’ meet their baseline capabilities, they under achieve.
Good sales managers are able to get people to do what they know they are capable of and do it consistently. Good sales managers are the top of the bell curve. There are lots of them. Good sales manager are plentiful and can run a good sales organziation. They will keep the satus quo. They will get people to meet their baseline capabilities. Good sales managers won’t hurt their people, but they won’t take them to the next level.
Great sales managers get people and teams to outperform themselves. Great sales managers take people and teams to the next level. Great sales managers can see in people what they can’t see in themselves and then know how to tease it out of them in a productive, non-threatening way. Great sales managers create more value than would be present if they weren’t there.
Finding great sales managers is almost impossible. Few sales managers have the insight and skill to accomplish this. It can’t be taught. It’s innate. That’s why there are so many good managers, yet so few great. Great managers are like Jedi Knights, it’s just in them. If you find one, snap him or her up. They are as invaluable as they are rare. If you are ever lucky enough to work for a great sales manager, thank them! Because, you wouldn’t be where you are today without them.
Are you a great sales manager?
Have you ever worked for a great sales manager?
What’s it like to work for a great sales manager, a good sales manager and a poor sales manager?
BTW: This goes for all GREAT Leaders!