August 29, 2017
The article was originally published on Inc by Larry Alton.Here are three of the most important things a sales manager does to drive performance improvements and achieve sales targets.
Sales managers have a long list of responsibilities. However, some responsibilities are more important than others because they direct the potential for success of all sales reps on the team. Here are three of the most important things a sales manager does to drive performance improvements and achieve sales targets:
Coaching your sales team is one of the most important things you can do as a sales manager; you're putting your leadership skills to work to assist sales reps so they can raise the bar on their sales results. A strong sales coaching culture illustrates that your organization recognizes the value of ensuring that personal and professional development is incorporated into the work environment. The ability to grow and develop is one area that most employees note as a reason for staying with an organization; therefore, this can help you retain top talent that provides a competitive advantage.
A strong sales coaching culture involves meeting with sales reps on an individual basis, once a week, to discuss an area of improvement. This might include a plan on how to hone a skill or strengthen an area of weakness. During these coaching sessions, it's important to get feedback from sales reps on how they feel the coaching is going and what might help them better address these areas of improvement.
Despite its integral role in your sales management role, coaching does take a considerable amount of time. The larger your sales team, the more time it takes a sales manager to get through these weekly sessions. This is when it helps to use tools and platforms that can create greater efficiencies for delivering the necessary sales coaching.
For example, Chorus.ai is an AI-enabled sales platform that can handle some of the coaching for you. Not only does it record and transcribe the sales conversations, providing you with identifiable patterns and corresponding results, but it also gets the best sales approaches and strategies to your sales reps quickly. Your job as a sales coach becomes that much easier when the key sales performance metrics and content have been collected and organized for you.
A similar, helpful tool can be found in People.ai. "It collects sales activity information to see where sales teams spend their time and then uses that information to identify stagnant deals, gives early warning alerts about deals that are slowing down, and creates an activity-based success road map for every opportunity. PeopleAI uses this access to information to provide AI-driven sales coaching to help sales reps decode why deals are stuck and what to do next, enables them to benchmark themselves against top performers, and identify what makes top performers great."
A sales manager, while clearly in a leadership position, can also show the team that they are just as willing to roll up their sleeves and help out. When the rest of the sales team sees the sales manager jumping in to provide additional assistance, it's a motivating and welcome sight for everyone else. It sends the message that the sales manager is not above certain tasks and wants to do whatever possible to help the sales team succeed.
There may be situations where the sales team is struggling to close a deal or is not sure how to approach certain prospects. Even if the sales reps do not directly ask for help, reviewing the sales pipeline can show a sales manager where they can pitch in and offer some much-needed assistance. This is another place where technology like Chorus.ai can help by automatically alerting you of deals that would benefit from your attention.
By applying past experience or leveraging a contact from their network, a sales manager can help gain that account and provide a real-world example of how to handle these situations. In this way, the sales manager is also training through doing, which delivers multiple benefits for the company.
A sales manager who pitches in and helps may learn some new skills or use these moments as an opportunity to have a better context for why the sales team does things a certain way. This hands-on context helps a sales manager to better assess why a deal went a certain direction more than just hearing about it from other people.
In order to coach the sales team and know where to pitch in, it's critical that a sales manager observe the team in action. This involves walking around the sales floor, participating in field calls, and listening in on sales. Observation provides a way to collect information about what's working, what may need adjustment in the sales process, and how sales reps deliver their pitch. Besides just sales actions, this is an opportune time to also note how your team spends their time and how they work together.
Writing down the good things and the areas of improvement provide the basis for one-on-one and team meetings later on. It's important to point out the wins because this encourages sales reps and motivates them. The observation of things that need to be done better can also be addressed in a way that delivers the coaching and tactics that can improve those areas. This also provides more of an incentive rather than just listing off any bad things you observed.
As you can see, just these three top-level sales manager responsibilities take considerable time and attention from what is a complex role. However, combining technology and a personal touch can maximize what you can do in a limited time while still giving you the opportunity to take care of other sales manager tasks.