Instead of focusing on territories and doing whatever it takes to make sales, many salespeople spend a lot of their time doing paperwork or creating content. As a sales manager, you must help your direct reports make good use of their time, teach them how to prioritize their work and plan with them to make as many sales as possible. Here are several ways to help members of your sales team succeed in their roles.
Targeting is one of your most important jobs as a sales manager because it helps team members use their time effectively. It's a waste of time for a salesperson to spend an hour giving a pitch to someone who has no real purchasing authority. Targeting the right prospects is a good way to ensure salespeople never waste their time making presentations when there is very little chance of making a sale. Work with executives and top-tier salespeople in your organization to come up with a targeting system that identifies the best prospects.
As a sales manager, you should also be telling your team members how to spend their time. In the past, salespeople usually had assigned territories, but they didn't have a lot of oversight. If a salesperson didn't set the right number of meetings with the right prospects, there were no real consequences. This is no longer acceptable in the sales industry. You must encourage each person on your team to approach sales strategically.
Some salespeople need help defining their priorities. As a sales manager, it is your responsibility to provide this type of assistance when necessary. You must tell your team members about new opportunities and help people decide how much time they should spend on an opportunity. A salesperson might want to keep pursuing an opportunity when you can see that it is not worth her time and effort.
One of the biggest challenges for sales managers is securing the resources necessary to land big accounts. If your organization has a limited amount of resources, the sales team might have to compete with the marketing department or research and development department for the use of those resources. If salespeople don't have the resources they need, they are less likely to make high-dollar sales. As a department manager, you must convince executives that your team needs certain resources to continue generating revenue for the company.
Coaching is also a major responsibility for sales managers. Many managers don't coach their salespeople because they are focused on making sales. Failing to coach your team members is a big mistake. Without the right level of coaching, salespeople are likely to struggle with making strategic decisions or setting priorities.
The sales industry is constantly evolving, so you have to be prepared to change the way you lead people if you want to continue generating sales. If you currently lead a team of salespeople, help them by working out with them how to target the right customers, and by providing guidance during the sales process.
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