What makes a sales team manager “great”? There are certain characteristics and attributes that are vital to the position, many of which run parallel with those of a professional football coach. These 8 characteristics can determine if a sales team will win or lose. Do you possess them?
A manager is battle-hardened and experienced, which is why they are followed and looked up to. This role is earned on a sales team; one cannot simply hold the position without working their way up, learning from past experiences, and then implementing them in the rest of his or her team. You’ll rarely, if ever, see an NFL head coach who hasn’t worked his way up from a college coaching or coordinator position. The same experience is necessary in sales; it’s what allows teams and organizations to trust their leaders.
2) Leads by example
Respect and trust are easy words to say, but much harder to earn. Great leaders will practice what they preach; they inspire those who matter to them and to whom they matter through example. A great manager will give as much of himself or herself to help their employees succeed, as opposed to making themselves look good. A great leader is willing to sacrifice their time and efforts in order to help their reps, making sure they have every tool they need to succeed.
3) Able to coach
A successful manager must look to build on the strengths of those under them and improve their weaknesses. To steal another example from the NFL, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson are two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The head coaches of the Patriots and Seahawks can’t depend on the same style to work with both players – they first needed to learn their player, then implement and coach offense that matches their QB’s style. While both players have their weaknesses (check out Brady’s NFL draft combine video for a good laugh), Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll helped turn them into Super Bowl champions by exploiting their strengths in each of their respective offenses. Much like coaching a successful NFL franchise, great sales managers are mentors and advisors to their teams, and are able to develop their talents and abilities.
To be great, it takes more than a consistent sales team that routinely hits quota. A sales manager that is strategic-minded and continuously finds ways to take their company to new heights achieves greatness. There is no better feeling than growing your business and expanding your quota and team into realms that were previously unheard of. In practice, this consists of optimized automation, sales tools and procedures. Continuously bolstering your technology and tools with a detailed sales management process that is the key to growth. Along with this, incorporating new metrics and incentive systems to reward high-performing reps is another way a great manager will expand their teams quota.
5) Has integrity
Say what you mean and do what you say. There is no better way to earn respect than through character and making the right choices. How a manager acts and carries himself or herself often reflects on the rest of the team. More often than not, sales reps will act and perform in the same manner as his or her manager. Great managers realize that they are constantly being assessed and looked to for guidance, and don’t take advantage of their leadership position. They perform every day to the best of their ability and expect the same out of their reps.
If a company is experiencing a major downturn or slow quarter, employees look up to managers for answers. A great sales manager will judge the situation, remain calm and confident, and be the example they need to be for their sales team. When a sales manager shows panic or distress, that attitude immediately reflects onto his or her reps. Remaining calm, cool and collected during these times will not only reduce tension in the workplace, but inspire others to act accordingly.
It is important for a sales team manager to always think about how to get the best out of their teams not just collectively, but individually as well. If something isn’t working in the sales process, a great manager can’t look to others to solve the issue but must determine ways to achieve success on their own. Looking ahead and solving these problems before they occur is a key to success. There isn’t a quarterback in the NFL whose weaknesses haven’t been exploited at one point or another. But the ones who win are those working on turning those weaknesses into strengths during the offseason. Great sales managers should do the same by constantly assessing his or her team objectively and looking for better ways to sell.
A sales manager should not only be approachable and have the answers to guide team members on the right path, but must also motivate them to take that right path. This is done by preaching hard work, helping to develop the skills necessary for success, and offering feedback. In practice, this can be as simple as emailing your team and urging them to give even more. A great manager realizes that encouragement goes a long way, and isn’t afraid to constantly push the rest of his or her team to seek greatness as well.