5 Essential Skills for Sales Managers

There are a myriad of skills essential for sales management but here are 5 of the most important… and easiest to improve

David

CMO - September 14, 2017

Sales management has changed over the past few decades from a job of micro-managing, watching your reps like a dog, and ensuring that they are putting out calls. Nowadays, it’s a much more hands-off approach that focuses on empowerment of employees, motivating in a way that aligns with their values, and explaining how we help a customer solve problems. We’ve learned that good employees work best when given trust, transparency and the right tools.

1. Track, analyze, and make use of data

In today’s competitive landscape, it is imperative that sales managers understand how to set effective KPIs, measure performance on targets, analyze the results and then use the data to make effective changes.

Simply put, your data is a goldmine and the tools you use to leverage leverage it is the equivalent of your pick-axe and shovel. Understanding how to dig into the data, find patterns and understand in real-time what drives sales in your organization is perhaps the most important change to business in the 21st century.

Whether you use a CRM, dialers, or other sales enablement tools, it’s important that you pick the one that aligns best with your way of doing business and the one that you understand well enough to make educated strategic decisions.

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2. Communicate clearly what needs done and how

The key to management is communication: what are we doing, how, when, why, and with what resources?

In terms of initiative, sales reps generally run the full range from autonomous and not needing any supervision to literally won’t do any work without someone explaining to them exactly what to do and how. Both types can be VERY effective in getting stuff done, but you’ll need to understand what it takes to get your reps on task and keep them on task.

In order to do this, you need to have individual conversations with each rep. Explain what their quota is, how they can reach it, and what is in it for THEM when they get it done. Don’t forget, a huge part of communication is about understanding what motivates the person you are communicating to.

3. Mentor and coach effectively

Your employees want a personal touch. Sure, tech and data and numbers are great, but the heart of ANY type of management will always be in taking care of your people, ensuring they understand they tasks set for them, and giving them the proper tools to achieve success.

The best sales managers are the ones who are in the trenches, day in and day out, helping their teams where needed and ensuring that high-quality leads are coming in. Sales is a constantly changing and fluid profession, which means that there’s a constant need for coaching, mentorship and professional development.

ASK what your people need, then listen and ensure they have it. If you take care of your teams, they will take care of you. Whether it’s simple check-ins, 5 minute strategy meetings or even just a pat on the back… the human factor goes a loooooonnnng way in this digitized world.

4. Motivate employees to attain or exceed targets

The definition of manager is a person responsible for supervising and motivating employees and for directing the progress of an organization. Simply put, you need to not just tell people what needs done in a clear and effective manner, but also MOTIVATE them so that they are eager to get it accomplished.

Motivation itself comes in two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. In other words, external motivators such as money or rewards are short-lived but internal motivations such as deep sense of purpose are long lasting. The best way to build internal motivation in organizations is by creating great culture.

“Culture refers to the environment in which employees work. Company culture includes a variety of elements, including work environment, company mission, value, ethics, expectations, and goals.”

In order to build great culture and motivate people effectively, you need to understand them from a 1–1 relationship perspective and you need to invest in their success.

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5. Consistently recognize and incentivize performance

People who work hard want to be recognized for their contributions. This holds true anywhere in the world and perhaps especially in sales.

Recogition is proven to be one of the most powerful workplace motivators. It’s been proven by study after study that companies that regularly recognize their employees have higher profits (a 28 percent increase in earnings per share over a 12-month period, according to a global workforce study).

The problem, however, is that consistently recognizing achievements quickly becomes a gargantuan task. Let’s say you have only 20 employees and you want to positively encourage them each time they reach a goal. Over the course of a week, with so many other things to do, this becomes nearly impossible and in an effort to not seem biased, you stop congratulating employees on performance. Shortly after, morale drops. It happens regularly in companies all around the globe.

Gamification, or employee engagement software, is one solution that makes it easy for employees to understand each others’ performance, celebrate together and build momentum around success. It’s already in use in over 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies and BambooHR recently did a “Workplace Deal Breakers” study that shows a key factor of employees quitting their jobs was lack of recognition.

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