The Selling Sales Manager’s Dilemma: To Sell or Not to Sell

The Selling Sales Manger – they wear the hats of team leader and cheerleader, salesperson and sales manager, confidant and coach.

They are adept at finding problems and crafting solutions, making calls and fetching coffee. They are constantly in motion – selling, strategizing, listening, inspiring, typing, calling – constantly fulfilling the gaps on a sales team with whatever is needed. But what exactly is the role of a selling sales manager (SSM)?

This is an important question to answer in creating effective leadership for a sales team. Like any well-trained dancer, SSMs can two-step most any situation within a sales team but also must toe a very fine line.

To all the selling Sales Managers responsible for driving a team quota and carrying an individual quota, here are a few helpful tips to refine your dancing skills and keep the team strong!

DEFINING THE ROLE OF THE SELLING SALES MANAGER

TIME MANAGEMENT

As a selling sales manager, knowing what to do and when to do it is crucial. This staves off burnout and creates continuity within the team. Selling sales managers must block out time each day for “selling” activities and “managing” activities.

For example, mornings should be dedicated to generating new business. After a brief meeting with the team, SSMs should focus on new calls and client follow-ups, as the percentage of calls that lead to a sale are highest before noon.

Mid-mornings can be used for client demonstrations, brief conversations with team members, and any light administrative work. After lunch, the next two or three hours should be dedicated to the team – monitoring calls, conducting live coaching, performing impromptu training discussions.

If the selling environment is more consultative (not a huge focus on sales activity metrics, more attention given to quality), even more emphasis can be placed on impromptu training exercises during client meetings.

DO THE VALUE-ADDS

Even the most effective time management plan is of little importance if the work is not valuable. Since an SSM’s time is limited, all activities should be reduced to selling and managing activities, with a particular focus on building value.

Individual quotas, team support, and building revenue are always in flux. The questions SSMs should concern themselves with include:

  • Is this activity creating value?
  • How does the activity add value?
  • Is the value short term or long-term?
  • Can this activity be delegated?
  • Is the activity a priority?
  • Can the activity wait?

In my experience, managing tedious emails, cleaning up CRM, and creating dozens of reports does not always seem to add much value. Not to mention endless meetings, which can lack clear direction.

Some tasks, such as meetings, can be refocused, putting particular emphasis on timing, clarity, and concise targets.

Think of a coach’s locker-room during halftime. There is a strict time limit. The coach quickly goes through targets in an effort to increase individual productivity and building team consciousness toward producing a win. Meetings should be held as such.

MANAGING ON THE SPOT

Managing on the spot can be very effective.

This is the art of taking on-the-spot examples and using them as mentoring and training opportunities. A traditional manager may use conference rooms and periodic one-on-one meetings to give feedback, often at a predetermined time.

The selling manager needs to be more nimble in his or her reaction to the team. SSMs must pay attention to their team, shifting direction and responding to organic changes as they occur.

This includes working with team members during live client meetings, monitoring phone conversations, creating impromptu call scenarios or conducting brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming sessions are vital team-building exercises. During these sessions the whole team is engaged in problem solving and sharing insights.

As an SSM, the ability to synthesize team feedback to improve individual and team effectiveness is priceless.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

The reason many teams have a team lead or selling manager is because winning teams need to be led by example.

Leadership provides a blueprint for replication of a set model. Managers are usually the individuals who consistently foster optimism, overcoming the most difficult objections (personally and professionally) in an effort to close deals.

It is very important for the SSM to be the most knowledgeable and the highest-skilled, to be the most confident and, perhaps most importantly, a highly trusted member of the team.

SSMs are energized by the challenges of their call log and their team, and utilize a fundamental principle for guidance: If there is no set leadership, there is no clear pathway for success.

DO NOT COMPETE AGAINST SALES REPS…COMPETE WITH THEM

To ensure team morale, the selling sales manager must not compete with their team members. Although, daily targets, spiffs, and other healthy forms of competition are encouraged, unhealthy competition is characterized by fear and greed.

An SSM should not take all the best leads or the most promising territories, or fail to give full attention to team members that may have outperformed them at a particular task. A counterproductive culture often materializes when team members feel their leader wants all the recognition for team success, highlighting their individual success over that of the team.

What is best for the SSM (and the team) is to compete with every team member toward a unified goal. The leader sets clear goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The leader constantly reinforces and amends those goals, as needed. The team finds comfort in the clear expectations set by managers, and the manager finds comfort in their meaningful contribution to every milestone, goal and metric experienced by the team.

These are just a few tips that can help Selling Sales Managers and their sales teams reach their highest potential. So pull your team together and turn up the good vibes, then ask them, are you ready to dance?