Sales Management – Do Sales Managers Actually Manage?

Sales Management is the most important job in sales, but how many sales managers actually manage?

Too large a proportion of sales managers are no more than senior salespeople with better titles, rather than being managers of sales performance.

Where Sales Managers Have Come From

Most sales managers started out being salespeople and there is nothing wrong with that. They have also been star performers in sales and there is nothing wrong with that either. However, there is something wrong in thinking that someone who has been a star salesperson will automatically become a star sales manager. The two jobs are entirely different.

The Role of Sales Management

Sales management is responsible for creating outstanding sales performance through the actions of the sales team. Sales management is about creating the supportive environment within which salespeople will flourish and give of their best. Unfortunately, sales managers spend too much of their time selling to their own customers and do not devote enough time into managing the performance of others.

How Sales Managers Spend their Time

If you ask how sales managers spend their time, they will normally tell you the following: they spend most of their time actually selling with the remainder of their time either spent in internal meetings or doing administration. When you ask them how much time they spend observing their sales people, coaching their skills or discussing their account strategy for their most important customers, they go all quiet. The unfortunate truth is that the average sales manager spends very little time on those activities that are most responsible for the sales performance of their sales team.

Identifying “Means” as well as “Ends”

Sales managers are normally pretty sharp at monitoring sales results. They know who is achieving target and who is not. What they are less good at however is knowing the reasons why some salespeople do much better than others. Sales managers are good at monitoring the Ends – the results, but they are less good at managing the Means – how these results are created.

Identifying the Secrets of the Best Salespeople

The only way to identify the key elements of sales performance is to spend some time with the best salespeople and identify what they do: How they engage with customers, how they create credibility and confidence and how they present what they have to offer.

Then spend some time with average salespeople and compare the difference. This simple analysis will identify some of the key skills and techniques that the best salespeople use that differentiates them from the average performers.

Turning Average Sales Performers into Stars

The next job of sales management is to transfer those key skills found in the star performers to everyone in the sales team. This will not be possible in every case, but even small improvements in every salesperson’s performance will make a big difference to overall team performance. These simple steps have identified the key factors of sales performance and have created an outline development plan for each member of the sales team – quite a good start for being a sales manager.

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