9 years ago
January 5, 2015

Sales Managers: 3 Ways to Manage Your Sales Team Better

Even a sales manager with a highly performing team wants to know how to improve his or her approach.

Rhys Metler

manage your sales team betterEven a sales manager with a highly performing team wants to know how to improve his or her approach. The drive to continuously improve is one of the hallmark characteristics of a great sales manager, but the way to better sales management isn’t always clear. These three tried and true methods of becoming a better sales manager can help you improve team responsiveness, morale, and most importantly, sales – and in less time than you probably think.

Tackle Your Own Schedule First

A sales manager is always busy. You have meetings with your managers, meetings with clients, site visits, and tasks at the office that simply can’t be done by anyone else. But the worst thing that can happen to a sales manager is not having enough time for his or own team. A sales team that consistently finds their sales manager unavailable will start to fragment, disconnect, and eventually start looking for careers elsewhere. 

To make sure that your sales team knows that your support is always on the table, write time into your schedule for the team throughout each day. By doing this you’ll guarantee that when the team has issues you have time to address them, and requests for one on one meetings will rarely need to be put off until the next week.

Add “Team Coach” to Your Resume

The characteristics that make sales people great can also make them resistant to micromanaging, but that does not mean that sales people don’t need your help and support to do better. Although the terms coaching and managing are often used interchangeably, there are differences between the two approaches that are visible to highly charged sales people. The best sales managers develop a feel for when each approach is warranted. As a sales manager, you set the goals, the rhythm, and the tone for your sales department, and address any issues that arise. As a sales coach, you help your sales people learn how to improve their own approach to sales and solve problems independently. This involves:

  • Leading sales people through problems and asking questions that allow them to discover the answer on their own, rather than telling them the answer outright.
  • Recognizing sales people for what they have done right, consistently and enthusiastically, reserving appropriate times for addressing things that did not run as smoothly.
  • Encouraging the sales team’s strengths, including creativity and independence.

Motivate, Counsel, Replace

Even the best sales manager will encounter sales people that just can’t perform to standard during his or her career. In order for a sales manager’s efforts to improve an employee’s performance to be successful, that employee must also want to improve. If not, no amount of effort will turn a third level candidate into a star performer, or even an average one. The sales manager needs to act quickly and decisively at the first sign of an underperforming sales person, or a highly performing salesperson who starts to backslide.

  • Motivate the sales person to do better by setting up progress markers and helping him or her overcome any identifiable obstacles.
  • If motivation does not lead to improvement within a reasonable time period, move to counsel the individual. Let the sales person know how far behind expectations he or she is, how this impacts compensation, and what needs to happen for improvement.
  • Should counseling and motivating fail, it might be time to replace the sales person.

Substandard performance by one or more sales people can be devastating to the entire sales team. Top performers are disappointed when the team fails to meet quarterly goals, and average performers might begin to wonder why they try to improve while others don’t bother. This is why recruiting is one of the most important jobs that sales managers do; it goes hand in hand with motivating, coaching, and leading existing staff. Should counseling and motivating fail, it might be time to replace the sales person.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.