Are your salespeople maximizing all of the selling opportunities available in your markets?
How are you, as their sales manager, contributing to their selling success and profitability? What “management style”do you utilize to lead your sales team? There are two basic managerial styles or philosophies of leading a sales team. You can manage and lead as a “Doing” Manager or as a “Managing Manager.”
Are You A “Doing” Manager?
The majority of sales managers only function as “Doing”managers. A “Doing” sales manager is a manager who has multiple responsibilities other than managing and leading a sales team. There are three major categories of “Doing”sales managers:
- A Selling Sales Manager - This is someone who splits their time between functioning as a salesperson and acting as a sales manager to other salespeople. A “Selling Sales Manager” spends part of their time selling their own customers and the rest supporting the salespeople reporting to them. A “Selling Sales Manager” normally handles the largest (or most important) accounts and is the busiest member of the sales team. This is the most common type of “Doing” Manager within most “business to business” distribution companies.
- A Full Time “Take Over” Sales Manager - This sales manager sees themselves as a full time manager and leader but in reality is only functioning as the “Lead Doer.” Instead of coaching others on how to do things they would rather just do it themselves because they then know it will be done right. A “Take Over” Sales Manager on a sales call will take a sales call away from their sales rep and will do all the selling “because this account is just too important.” When coaching a salesperson, a “Take Over” Manager will just tell the rep exactly what to do instead of coaching the rep so they discover the best answer on their own.
- A Working Sales Manager - This position is normally only present in small companies where everyone handles a variety of jobs and responsibilities. These are the sales managers who split their time between managing their salespeople and working at some other task such as running a piece of equipment or running the entire company.
Do any of these “Doing” Manager profiles describe you and your management style?
Though each management approach has a different set of problems, they all share the significant challenge of shifting their focus between successfully coaching and leading a sales team and handling another radically different responsibility of just feeling they should do everything themselves.
It’s hard to work for a “Doing” Manager. They tend to offer very little coaching or discussions of how to handle situations but instead jump in and take over what the salesperson is doing. If you ask a “Doing” Manager how to un-jam the office copier they’ll most likely just do it for you.
Have You Ever Been Trained as a Sales Manager?
The main reason most sales managers act as “Doing Managers” is they’ve never been formally trained in how to lead salespeople. Over 90% of all the sales managers I see in my programs have never attended even a full day of sales management training.
How did you become a sales manager? Most started off as salespeople and either out-sold or out-lasted the others to finally get promoted to sales manager. And why were you so successful as a salesperson? Most likely it was because you were a “Super-Doer.” A “Super-Doer” is a sales rep who has learned it’s easier to just do everything themselves than it is to go through all the time and hassle to ask others for help. They survived under the maxim “If you want it done right, you might as well do it yourself.”
So now we take these successful “Super-Doers” and promote them to sales management but give them no training and very little coaching. So the first time one of your new reports brings you a problem how do you solve it? Well as a “Super-Doer” or “Take Over” Sales Manager of course and you just do it yourself.
It takes training to understand how to coach others on how to do something instead of just doing it for them. How much sales management training have you had on how to coach and lead others?
The Goal Is To Become a Stronger “Managing Manager”
The solution to this “doing” manager problem is to become more of a coach and leader than the “lead doer.” The goal is to become a stronger “Managing Manager” where you understand your greatest value to your company and your sales team is your ability to help others become more effective and successful, not by being the “lead doer” but instead becoming the coach and strategist. A successful “Managing Manager” also realizes they’re least effective or productive when they try to actually “Do” things for their sales reps that the reps should be doing on their own.
A sales team needs to be coached and led. You cannot build a successful sales force by just fixing problems and doing things for them. The goal of sales management is to significantly grow a sales force, not just maintain your current performance level. And that means you need to coach and teach each member of your team how they can improve their performance and income.
How much effort have you invested in helping each member of your team understand how they can improve and strengthen their skills, structures and philosophies of selling?
How to Become a Stronger “Managing Manager”
Becoming a stronger “Managing Manager” means realizing your strength is in your wisdom, awareness and the ability to help others see further than they do now.
The majority of problems facing your experienced salespeople do not focus on productivity or functional implementation issues. An experienced sales rep usually has those skills under control. Growing the sales volumes and profitability of an experienced salesperson requires you, as their sales manager, to help change their focus, approach, messaging or persuasive style. These kinds of changes involve more than just “fixing”problems but instead require your coaching and guidance to help your rep realize they need to redirect and refocus their efforts.
When most sales managers find one of their reps mentally banging their head against the wall they’ll ask them what they are doing. The rep, while still banging their head against the wall responds, “I’m trying to find the door to leave this room.” Your rep is working hard and trying their best but just lack direction and focus. As their sales manager, your job is not to do their job for them, but to gently grab their shoulders moving them over a few feet and then watching them leave the room through the open doorway. How are you redirecting and refocusing each of your salespeople?
Strategically Redirecting and Refocusing Each member of Your Sales Team
Consider maintaining a coaching focus with your sales team by asking their opinion before giving them the correct answer. The best coaches ask the most questions understanding that a salesperson discovering an answer on their own (but with your coaching guidance) will retain and believe in the idea much longer than if it’s just handed to them. As you work with your people consider continually asking questions like:
- “And then what do you think you should do?”
- “How do you think your customer’s going to react to this and how will you handle it?”
- “What have you seen happen before that might give us an idea of the best actions to take?”
- “What else can you be doing with them that can increase your selling value and uniqueness?”
Becoming a stronger “Managing Manager” means increasing your focus and emphasis on asking questions and coaching advice.
Your job as a sales manager is to help each individual achieve more than they would have without your involvement. How are you helping each of your people understand and work toward increasing their selling skills and financial success?
As the manager of your sales team we know you’re good, now the question is, are you good enough and committed enough to strengthen your questioning and coaching skills so you can become an even stronger “Managing Manager” to your team?