Our Client Development Director, Adrian Atwood, provides his 7 Secrets of Successful Sales Management.
1. Treat your time as a precious asset
Look after it. As a senior sales manager you only have two levers to grow you business, time and money. Put simply, you can’t buy time, so time is more precious than money.
Successful sales managers manage their time efficiently. They make conscious choices about how to spend their time efficiently, while they make conscious choices about how to spend their time effectively – both at work and on a personal basis – to achieve all round success.
2. Have a mission statement
With everything that the job entails in a senior sales role, it is easy to get distracted and be constantly bombarded with demands for your attention. It is therefore vital that you have a personal mantra or mission statements that helps you to remain focused.
A mission statement that I like and have used myself in previous roles is Make sure that I am being the most productive that I can be at all times. What is your mission statement?
3. Recruit very carefully
It is paramount that you hire the best possible talent that you can afford. Indeed, it is essential that you do this in order to be able to implement the next step of your successful sales management plan.
4. Be a manager, coach and leader
Hold regular reviews with your people and separate the time allocated to these functions. As a manager, performance manage your people, understand and challenge their forecasts and review their plans and strategies.
As a coach, agree goals for the next session, any corrective actions required, what success will look like and any measures to report on for progress. But remember, coaching means that you can only use questions and you can’t direct them. It has to come from them if they are going to truly own the outcomes and actions.
As a leader, when they really get stuck (and only then) give them direction i.e. tell them what you want and get their agreement to the direction. Then immediately drop back to coaching and ask them how they can (and will) assure their success in following the direction you have just given. Delegation of ownership and responsibility for thinking and action (and that’s what this is) is critical. There’s no use hiring good talent if you are not going to manage, lead and coach them to deliver outstanding results.
5. Provide adequate support
On the same basis that an army marches on its stomach, likewise you need to ensure that your people have everything that they need to deliver those outstanding results. This includes fighting your corner in the budget discussions to ring-fence sufficient funds to keep your troops fighting fit.
Keep them fresh with sales training and coaching to maintain the right attitude and behaviour and keep them abreast of the latest sales tools and techniques.
6. Think ahead
When you have completed steps 3, 4 and 5, you can then (and only then) undertake this step to achieve sales success. This is because, having completed these steps, you should have created the most important asset that money cannot buy: thinking time.
Thinking time gives you opportunity to reflect upon where you are, where you need to get to, and what needs to happen next. It also gives you time to think about future ‘what if’ scenarios and devise appropriate courses of action. This step is often overlooked, but it is vital to achieve success at the end of the fiscal year.
7. Create urgency, demand success and have an eye for details
As well as looking at the big picture, a successful sales leader needs to have an eye for detail and accelerate actions that will deliver success. Make sure your people have a credible plan to achieve their targets (including the mitigation of all risks). Make sure their plans start with the required outcomes and work backwards to show the key milestones and critical success factors.
Demand success at every milestone and check progress along the way without micro-managing. Understand the details of the progress and coach your people to get back on track whenever you spot a risk or slippage in their plans.
Written by: Adrian Atwood, Client Development Director at Sterling Chase