How does the “armchair” management style take root? It’s ineffective in sales teams more than in any other department. Yet, sales managers rely on CRM, activity metrics, and other data points to tell them the story of what’s happening in their teams. Then they blast their producers with emails. Does this look like leadership to you? It’s no wonder teams aren’t hitting their mark. In a tough market, active and engaged sales leaders can push teams to achieve results ahead of their competition.
Too often, the people in sales leadership roles never learned from a sales leadership mentor. Many managers of sales teams worked for people who lacked leadership skills because leadership development in sales isn’t as widely focused on as some other arms of the organization. Sales managers often arrive at their first management position because they are successful producers. But a successful producer doesn’t inherently know how to lead a group of people to produce a result.
A new sales manager might assume they know what they’re doing because they have stellar sales numbers in their previous position. Even as they face new hurdles while managing a team of producers, they can push off leadership development as a lower priority. That’s because sales leaders don’t always realize the amount of brain space they occupy in the minds of their direct reports. If they did, they would work to be better.
What and how a sales manager communicates to their team members influences the way they feel about their job and themselves and, ultimately, how they perform for the company. Sales managers even influence the salesperson’s family members because they live with the employee who is home (or not home) at night, and they suffer or thrive in concert together.
Data Can't Make Up For Active Management
There’s a growing problem with sales managers around data and the tendency for sales managers to busy themselves with pouring over the gobs of data they track. Technology has given companies and leaders of teams vast amounts of information in a way that’s never been possible before. In some ways, data access has benefited teams. It has sharpened processes and cut waste. Data has brought about more innovative, streamlined products and services that customers want But sales managers that rely solely on data access to manage teams are failing them. As attractive as it can be for new and underdeveloped sales managers to hide behind the computer screen, in the end, they’re not getting the best work from their salespeople and more salespeople leave.
Sales leaders that turn to manage people from a distance using CRM and email and who live by the data abandon the personal element. Since they already have what they consider the best information available, they don’t take the time to talk directly with their people. They don’t get out in the field with their subordinates to see, touch, and feel their environment with them. They don’t nurture a relationship with them that says, “Hey, I understand what you’re going through, and I’m here to help you. I care about your success.”
Great Sales Managers Connect In The Field
Instead of sending emails out demanding to see data or gather explanations about pipelines, sales managers need to have conversations. Conversations should not just be about performance. Sales managers should learn about their people and get to know them. They can understand their team’s home life and what they do in their off time because salespeople respond to managers that know them as individuals.
It’s still possible for sales managers to develop good relationships with subordinates in remote teams as much as in person. Phone calls and video conferences offer channels for rich communication to happen. Sales managers can conveniently drop a note to the Warriors fan on their team just to say “great game” or ask the parent of a new baby how the sleep is going.
Sales managers need to have sales discussions in real-time, not by email. Their line of questioning and communication tactics are far more effective when they’re happening within a live conversation by phone, in person, or by teleconference. Sales leadership coaches can help sales managers get good at asking great questions and directing sales conversations to achieve results.
With the economic climate declining, the sales landscape is getting more difficult. It’s more important than ever that Sales Managers link arms with their team members. Let your people know they’re on your mind and show them you’re in their corner because you are certainly on their minds. If your salespeople know they matter to you and they’re more than a number on a page, you will get a lot more out of them, even in a down market.
TaskHuman can’t do the work for you to develop great leadership and great relationships with your team. That’s your job. But our coaching platform can support you on the path to becoming the great sales leader you wished you’d had for yourself.
The sales leadership coaches available through the TaskHuman platform can work with you to skillfully navigate the priorities of your job as a sales manager and move low-reward activities off your plate. Sales managers get pulled into other corporate details that reduce their effectiveness. Wouldn’t it be nice to win your case for bowing out?
Sales organizations can still be highly results-driven and use data where it matters. Still, sales managers need relationships, which is critical to maintaining profitable sales teams. If your organization’s sales manager's job has devolved into a desk-centered role where all managers do is monitor CRM, then TaskHuman can help. Let us assist you with strengthening the sales leadership and sales culture for the benefit of all.
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