On Being A Great Sales Manager

The position of sales manager is the most important and yet most underrated position in the company. Just to be straight here by the term” sales manager”, I mean the top sales person in the company, the one who is responsible for managing, measuring and motivating the sales team; the person who is responsible for their success and most of all the person who is ultimately responsible for bringing in enough of the right business for the company to run profitably.

So then what makes a great sales manager? Here are five things that a sales manager has to do to be great:

  1. She has to be able to see the future; she has to create a vision for the company to follow. She has to be the chief strategist for the company then she has to convey that strategy by developing the company’s story and then implement that strategy both inside and most importantly outside the company through the marketing. Yes lest we forget the title for the position is normally sales and marketing manager although in most cases this manager spends most of her time on sales and very little of her time on marketing, something that is changing drastically as we speak.
  2. She has to build a great team and yes I said build the team. Sure she can find some people who are great sales people but the most important factor in their hiring will be how they  fit in with the team, how they improve the team and how they make the team successful. She also has to be able to create great sales people because we have come to the point in our industry where because of attrition due to age we need to bring in younger people, unfortunately there are not that many young people who are interested in printed circuit board sales, nobody went to college to be a printed circuit board sales person. But there are plenty of young people who are interested in sales,  there are great natural born sales people and those are the young people we have to find and hire. Hire for passion, you can teach technology but you can’t teach passion.
  3. She has to work with each one of her sales people individually, pushing the right buttons and finding the way to get them even more motivated than they already are. She has to develop a compensation package that will motivate the sales person to success while being great for the company. One of the ideas I like to use is to find out what a sales person’s dream is and then show that person how that dream can be achieved as a tangible result of successfully bringing the right amount of business for the company. For example of the person’s dream is to buy a lake house figure out how much that will cost and then explain to him how he can get that house  by making his numbers for three years and thus taking full advantage of his compensation package. Think about that, it’s pretty powerful stuff!
  4. She has to be firm but tough with her sales people. Sales people even good ones are mavericks by nature, and many of them are kind of free spirits who just don’t like to do more mundane tasks like writing weekly reports and doing account plans and forecasts. The sales manager has to stand firm. She has to make sure that they will do these things and get them in on time every single week. She can never bend the rules of she will lose control over her band of potential business  anarchists.
  5. A good sales manager has to create excitement. She has to make the whole sales effort as dramatic and exciting as if it were a movie. She has to show her sales people that what they are doing is not only important but also challenging to the point of epic. She has to create an adventure in which she and her sales team are all characters all striving to get that certain thing which in this case is winning the business. There is a lot of competition in sales, in the end it is a zero sum game where somebody wins and somebody loses, the sales manager has to turn that around and use it for as much dramatic impetus as she can create.

And the sixth way to be a great sales manager, yes there is one more, remember I always under promise and over deliver, is this:

A great sales manager has to know when to hold em and when to fold em when it comes to sales people. Look there are the out and out bums, the ones who just don’t fit in, the ones who are so ill-fit for a job in sales that it’s easy to send them packing, actually you’re doing them a favor. But then there are the ones who are almost good. The ones who can talk a good game but never quote perform; the ones who make you think are fixable; the ones who lead you to believe that if you were a better sales manager you could fix them. These are the ones who are hard to fire because a sales manager might look at this situation as their fault for not being a good enough sales manager, I say nonsense. The solution us very simple, figure out how much time you are spending on that person and you’ll soon realize the truth…which is that you agree spending most of your valuable time on what in the end is a losing proposition so cut your losses, fire the guy and move on. The fact that you’ll feel a lot better the next day will be proof that you did the right thing.

If you consistently do these six things and do them with vigor and passion, you will do a great job and you will be a great sales manager, it’s only common sense

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