Sales managers have the power to inspire their team to top performance and help reps achieve their career goals. It’s therefore no coincidence that many of the world’s most successful sales organizations have both recruited top sales leaders and provided them with the tools they need to coach their team to success.
We scoured the web in search of highly actionable sales management tips from some of the world’s preeminent sales leaders. This recently updated list of excerpts reveal the power of role specialization, the vitality of 1:1 sales meetings the importance of a defined sales process and more.
We’ve linked back to the original sources of these quotes and definitely recommend reading more from each of these transformative sales leaders.
Far too many sales leaders don’t invest enough time in sales coaching. According to Sales Pro Insider’s Nancy Bleeke, “Research shows 50% of a manager’s time should be spent coaching their salespeople. Another study notes sales goals exceeded by 7%, revenue by 25%, and close rates by 70% when each rep received at least three hours of coaching per month. Three hours a month per rep or 50% of a manager’s time sounds like a lot of time, doesn’t it? But, that’s what it takes to keep your people engaged, performing at peak, sales growing, and your company moving forward.”
Vantage Point Performance’s Founding Partner Michelle Vazzana views the role of sales managers a lot like a GPS system. According to Vazzana, “There are lots of ways to get from A to B. A good GPS system knows that simply mapping out the shortest or most obvious route is not always the smartest way to travel. It can be more efficient to get to B by avoiding toll roads and road closures or steering clear of small towns with a lot of stop lights. Accounting for all this, the system will chart the best path to a destination. Managers must do the same for their reps. They must consider each seller’s starting point, their end goal (quota) and then evaluate which route – which products, which types of customers, which sales strategy – is most likely to enable the rep to attain quota.”
Mike Weinberg, The New Sales Coach, believes that regular, formal, scheduled, 1:1 meeting between the sales manager and every salesperson is a best practice with the power to transform any sales culture. According to Weinberg, “I had no idea that most sales managers were not having regular 1:1 meetings with their salespeople. I mistakenly assumed that every manager was laser-focused on goals and results, and made it a point to meet individually with the people on their teams. As a consultant, I’ve been shocked to discover that this type of meeting is more the exception than the rule.”
Ralph Barsi is one of the most inspiring sales leaders I’ve ever encountered. I got the opportunity to ask him to reveal some tips for inspiring sales reps. Here are just some of the ways Ralph Barsi inspiries reps on his team to succeed:
Jim Keenan, President and CEO of A Sales Guy Consulting and Recruiting, believes that sales managers are perhaps the most undervalued players in a sales organization. According to Keenan, “Sales managers are the key to a humming sales organization. They spend more time with your sales people than anyone else in the company. They perform the coaching sessions. They lead the pipeline review meetings. They create the personal development plans … They distribute the quotas. They manage to the quotas. They influence the deal strategies. They resolve territory disputes. They sit next to, talk with and are closer to the sales people than any other person (role) in the company. Sales managers are the lynchpins to success in sales organizations.”Keenan’s quote eloquently summarizes the value of a sales manager and demonstrates why your company should take the time and invest the resources in hiring great sales managers.
S. Anthony Iannarino
Sales managers are only as good as their sales process. Virtually any sales process is better than following no process at all. According to S. Anthony Iannarino, “Your sales process isn’t perfect. But it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye. Your salespeople skip whole stages of your sales process, and by doing so they don’t create value for your prospects or gain the commitments they need. You need to sell them on the process. Then you need to coach to the process. You need to follow the process.”
Without really observing reps and listening to recordings of sales calls, managers may be able to identify when reps aren’t hitting their targets, but they won’t know why. Keith Rosen points out that “managers think they already know what their people’s developmental gaps are, simply by looking at the person’s activity, results and a spreadsheet. You can’t manage from a spreadsheet. Data only tells you what is going on … It doesn’t provide insight into the quality of their activity and how effective and skilled they really are at performing a certain function, task, facilitating a conversation or their true selling acumen.”
Hubspot’s Chief Revenue Officer Mark Roberge points out the importance of specializing sales reps early. This is key because some reps are great at selling to enterprise while others are better at targeting SMBs. When managers can figure out which prospects and industry verticals that reps are best at selling into, it can be a powerful revenue-driver. According to Roberge, “I had some sales people who were like, ‘Man, I hate these Fortune 5000 guys, I can never get them on the phone, but I love those plumbers, they pick up. I know they don’t have a lot of money, but I can get them to make a decision in an hour and be done.’ And other reps were like, ‘I hate these plumbers, they don’t have any money. I’m a strategic seller and I just want to deal with people who have better business acumen, and who will spend a little bit more.'”
Expert sales trainer Jonathan Farrington points out that one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is not investing in adequate training for sales managers. Farrington points out that the vast majority of sales managers are appointed to their position because they were a top performer as a sales rep. However, he rightly points out that being a great sales manager requires a skill set that goes beyond simply crushing quota.According to Farrington, “You’re going from being responsible purely for yourself to being responsible for the future, success, and well-being of a whole team of people. It’s not an experience you can attain simply from watching other people – you’ve got to be properly trained. I would estimate that more than 90% of sales managers working in all industries have never had formal sales management training. And even those that have were trained after they had problems in their new management position that required that training to solve.”