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The Coveted Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 11, 2019

Becoming, and staying, a sales manager is hard work.  Becoming an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, and consistent activity and patience.

In this article, we highlight some of common habits (good and bad) of salespeople and sales managers' working today. 

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The sales management activities that we are performing today are creating the results we are achieving tomorrow.  What activities are you doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?  It is up to us as sales leaders to set higher standards for sales behaviors and hold people accountable, so that we get better results.

It is a given that successful sales management requires contributions on many levels:  skill, time, effort, effective execution, systems and processes to support coaching, performance management and recruiting.

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To help understand what makes a successful sales manager, it is helpful to review the Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople. I recently asked the participants of a workshop to identify and share those habits that they believed contributed to the success of their best salespeople. 

Below are some of the common habits identified:

  • Develops great relationships
  • Networks regularly
  • Good time management
  • Gets to decision makers
  • Is selective in prospecting
  • Provides exceptional customer service

Then I asked them to talk about the flip-side of the list – those habits that inhibited or hurt a salesperson’s ability to close more business. 

Below are some of the habits they identified:

  • Sells on price
  • Inconsistent prospecting
  • Procrastinates
  • Presents to the wrong people
  • Sells to anyone that fogs a mirror
  • Poor prioritization
  • Is too comfortable

How about you and your habits?  What are those habits that you can point to that you KNOW have a positive impact on your team’s sales behaviors and results? 

Here are some that I observe and hear about:

  • Coaches in-the-moment to get a deal closed
  • Reports sales results
  • Makes joint calls
  • Sets goals
  • Conducts regular sales meetings
  • Reviews and reports pipeline

This is a good list and with some additions, it can become a great list when we identify the skills of a great Coachone of the most critical roles of an effective sales leader. 

To examine what else you might want to consider, take a look at the following list of elements necessary for successful coaching:

It’s not enough to just have the skill.  In order for managers to be successful at having a sales team built for growth, the manager must be in the habit of using those skills.

Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, and consistent activity and patience. 

Like the coach of a winning team or a conductor of an extraordinary symphony, you have the ability to positively affect the success and lives of your salespeople and company.   Are you taking the right steps to do so?

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Topics: sales management secrets, sales management responsibility, Sales Manager, responsibilities of sales manager, effective sales management

What is the Most Powerful Management Question Ever?

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 19, 2018

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While driving into work earlier this year, I heard an incredibly powerful performance question while listening to the Dan LeBetard with Stugatz ESPN radio show. An ardent Michigan State Football beat writer asked this question during the Big 10 media day.

“You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

I immediately thought about all the sales managers we’ve worked with over the last 25 years and the challenges they faced getting their salespeople to perform as expected. Let me explain for just a minute:

  • New hires are not hired hoping/expecting that they will be average
  • Hiring managers search for, find, interview, screen, and contract new producers thinking/expecting them to be great
  • According to Geoff Smart in his book Topgrading – 75% of new hires are no better and often perform worse then the people the replaced.

In most companies we find that the bottom 40% of producers are responsible for less than 20% of the total sales production (in many cases less than 10% of new business- even when we take out new hires with less than 2 years of service). So the question must be asked– did you hire them this way or make them this way?

So let’s look again at this reporter's brilliant question:

Reporter's Question: “You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

Your Question: “You came into ABC company with high expectations and a strong track record of success that we thought you would continue here. Here we are two years later and in our stack ranking for new business you have finished 9th and 10th. And your pipeline is consistently 66% of what it is supposed to be and your average size sales is $10,000 instead of the anticipated $15,000. What do you have to do over the next 120 days to demonstrate to yourself and to the company that you are on the path to achieving what we hired you to achieve?”

This is the question you should be asking your non-performing people NOW!

This question should have been asked of an under performer within 6 months of the end of the expected ramp-up period. In other words, if your ramp-up period is 18 months and Jamie is at 12 months and not projecting to meet and exceed expected performance, this conversation needs to take place.

Be brave, ask the tough questions about performance, improve your coaching and get better results.

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Topics: managing sales people, Sales Effort, sales management responsibility, successful sales teams, sales advice

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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