What is the #1 strategy to drive sales performance? Of the numerous strategies available to reps (quality of manager, skills training, compensation, development program, tools, product training, mentoring, recruiting and retention initiatives), which has the largest effect on a sales team? According to a survey by STAR Results, most professionals believe the quality of a sales manager trumps all other factors. So what makes a manager effective? Below are some of the key traits exhibited by successful managers.
Benefits of a Good Sales Manager
- Great sales management will reinforce and imprint the culture of a company on those that work under them.
- They will keep the sales team focused and on one path, ensuring the execution of the sales plan.
- An effective sales manager will provide the right tools to help their team succeed, whether it may be sales automation software, a prospecting system, or perhaps a training program.
- Probably the most important thing that a quality manager brings to the table is better sales performance, which leads to better financial performance for the company. According to research from Star Results, effective coaching from sales management can boost sales performance by 19%.
- Good management produces loyalty. Reps reporting to a good manager report high levels of job satisfaction and deliver 4 times the revenue as those working for ineffective managers.
Traits of Great Sales Managers
A great sales manager can have an immense role in the performance of a sales team, but managers are frequently promoted based on their performance as a sales rep rather than their ability to coach and lead. As much as good sales management can drive performance, ineffective leadership can have a negative impact on a team. Some of the most important traits exhibited by great sales managers are:
- Ability to handle change: Sales is a rapidly changing environment, and a good manager must be able to keep a level head while facing the chaos that comes with change. Managers must not be an impediment to positive transformations, and instead be the guide.
- Coaching adaptability: Great managers realize there is no one-size-fits-all approach to coaching. Instead, they understand how to tailor their style to each rep in their team. They do not use a blanketed management approach, but an individuated, continual coaching effort that adapts to each learning style. They understand how to utilize sales enablement strategies to ensure that their team is equipped with everything they need to be able to close deals. Further, they understand the importance of proper pipeline management training for their reps.
- Maintain discipline on processes: For a sales process to function correctly, the entire team must buy into it. Managers must be able to enforce the adoption of the process, be it the CRM, KPIs, reporting techniques, etc., while avoiding controlling daily activities.
- Fosters loyalty: 70% of top performers leave due to their relationship with their sales manager. A good manager can keep the top performers onboard and allow his or her team to grow as a unit.
- Develops enthusiasm for selling: The ability to create enthusiasm within the team is another trait that differentiates sales management. Creating competition, or getting involved in deals can have a large impact on a team’s performance.
Questions Going Forward
At the end of the day, a successful sales manager is a strong differentiator for top sales teams. Sales management, however, is never a one and done endeavor. In the ever-changing sales environment, companies are forced to continually reevaluate their teams and look for opportunities for improvement. How well are your new sales initiatives going? How well are sales managers driving performance? How well are you developing your sales managers? How effective are your current training efforts? Answering these questions will keep your sales teams on a path toward success.
Patrick Wolf is a content marketing specialist for Apttus, with expertise in sales, content creation, and SEO. He previously worked in the Risk Management department at the Inter-America Development Bank and was a Production Assistant for Electric Entertainment, a movie and TV production company. Patrick is a graduate of University of California, at Berkeley.