Five Considerations in Selecting a GREAT Sales Manager
Companies need great sales managers. To find them, Sales VPs and business owners need to (1) know, in advance, the sales goals their managers will work to achieve. Sales managers assume responsibility for sales team goal achievement. And, it’s important to investigate their background for team achievement levels and to set clear expectations for them at the beginning of their employment. Typical expectations are set for team performance, individual product sales, territory expansion, and retention.
As a coach, sales managers guide salespeople into prospecting and sales activity levels necessary to produce enough quotes and sales for goal achievement. They create an inspiring environment in which salespeople want to motivate themselves to achieve sales goals. To accomplish the goals of a sales manager’s position, a person must be able to do certain activities. They must show a competency to handle certain duties. We will call these duties (2) sales manager competencies.
Know the competency requirements for top sales managers in your industry. Examples found in a cross section of industries and sales manager positions include:
1. Recruiting salespeople
2. Planning sales goal achievement
3. Coaching and teaching in three areas: sales planning, activity (funnel) management, face-to-face skills
4. Confronting mavericks and poor performers
5. Building teams
6. Inspiring others to motivate themselves
7. Monitoring individual and team performance (sales goal achievement)
(Note: In some industries, a high ability to sell or close deals is necessary, while in others a moderate ability to sell is required along with greater competency in the areas shown above. Group presentation skills are required in some industries and not in others.)
As you can see the competencies are the things that great sales managers can do and do well. To consistently do these tasks over a long period of time, a sales manager usually possesses certain (3) personality traits. Just as in athletics, certain traits produce speed and an ability to catch a ball. In sales management, certain personality traits allow sales managers to more naturally do the competencies shown above. Those personality traits are ....
• High social confidence and ability to ask, tell, present, persuade, and confront
• Lower social drive and need for recognition and thus a greater tendency to praise others
• A moderated goal drive with a respect and knowledge of sales systems: processes, tools, and skills
• A moderated detail-orientation to allow for analysis within a big picture orientation
• A moderated need to nurture - ability to hear an individual’s needs and yet keep time management a priority
• Willingness to understand and adapt communication and coaching to different personality styles
• Out of the box thinker and creative problem solver - personal flexibility
While the goals, competencies, and personality traits combine to show what a sales manager must do, (4) attitudes and beliefs make up the philosophy that drives the system. They also define the sales team environment and whether it will be an inspiring one. And, certain attitudes and beliefs must be present to exist comfortably within a company’s values. The follow list contains attitudes and beliefs most commonly found in great sales managers. Before recruiting a sales manager, it will be important for you to see which you agree with and what attitudes and beliefs you will add to the list.
- Honest: with money, time, and promises
- Hard work ethic: the amount of hours doesn’t matter
- Personal responsibility: it’s their ship, their watch, their people, their goals
- Servant hearted: it’s all about contribution and service
- Positive: meets challenges with a ‘can do’ attitude
Finally, the (5) cognitive strength of the sales managers is important. It determines how fast they will learn and how quickly they grasp complex information - the need for which varies from industry to industry.
When selecting great sales managers, build a matching sheet of +‘s and -‘s and keep score during a best practice recruiting system. Screen, profile, and then do structured interviews. Focus on deciding if the candidate can accomplish the goals and if they will be competent in the areas shown above. And, most importantly, for retention and for sales organization health, decide if the candidate will do these things naturally and in a way that will keep both sales team morale and production at high levels. Now, take the information in this article and do a better job in selecting your new sales manager. You can. Lance.