Time to continue the conversation from Part 1 of this topic.
There are enormous differences between a great salesperson and a great sales manager. To be successful selling on a consistent basis, facing the negatives, the turn downs, the no’s salespeople face on a daily basis requires a thick skin, the ability to bounce right back up when knocked down, a positive can do attitude, a strong work ethic, a polished professional presentation, the ability to read people, prospecting skills, and certainly, closing skills.
Some of the best salespeople have what I describe as an inwardly driven ego. That ego says, “I’m the best, I’m better than the rest and no matter how many times people tell me NO I will prevail. Self preservation requires a great salesperson feel that way to counter the daily negatives he or she faces. However, that inwardly driven ego is not a recipe for sales management success.
Conversely, a successful sales manager most often has an outwardly driven ego which is just the opposite from a great salesperson. While a great salesperson takes pride and satisfaction from his or her own skills and personal achievement, a sales manager takes prides in the achievements of the salespeople he or she is responsible for. He or she knows that much of the success his salespeople are experiencing is as a result of good sales management. However, he or she doesn’t need to be told that. The sales manager just knows that the salesperson’s success was partly, if not entirely, due to his or her guidance and is satisfied knowing it.
A great sales manager is a recruiter, a trainer, a coach, a motivator, and a leader who has an outwardly driven ego. He or she can lead by example, taking new hires and existing salespeople into the field and then demonstrating how it is done. He can observe a sales presentation and provide good constructive feed back to the salesperson to help improve sales ability.
Great sales managers remain focused on corporate goals always remembering that his or her job is hinged on achieving the goals set by the company, not by making excuses why it could not be done. A great sales manager’s job is to grow sales.
So given all that, we’re back to the question how do we find a good/great sales manager?
We now know that part of the answer is identifying someone with an outwardly driven ego. In my experience when I’ve had sales departments I was responsible for I could almost always spot the salespeople within the company who had an outwardly driven ego. That was the salesperson who was always trying to help another of his team members that were lagging behind in training or whose sales were below expectations or quota.
In the field, the salesperson with the outwardly driven ego wouldn’t think twice about helping another salesperson on the team close a sale, or make a presentation. When I discovered a salesperson exhibiting that type ego I did everything I could to encourage it. As soon as possible I would promote that person to a team leader position which included a bonus, commission or override for helping team members. That way I could monitor his or her progress to determine if I had a “sales manager” in waiting.
Just as I believe salespeople, no matter how long they’ve been in sales or how good they are, still need on-going training, I believe sales managers need training as well. They need to improve their coaching skills, their training skills, and their ability to critique sales performance without discouraging the salesperson or stifling his or her spirit.
A great sales manager is like the head coach of a football team. We’ve all seen how big a difference a change in a coach can make to a football team even when the team was pretty much the same as the year before the new coach took over. The same is true with sales management. A strong, goal driven, outwardly driven ego sales manager can turn around a failing sales force almost over night.
So to find a good sales manager first look within your organization for a candidate that posses the qualities I’ve mentioned above. If you can’t find a candidate within your organization, don’t give up and don’t settle for just anyone who happens to be around, look outside your company. You can bet that there are would be sales managers working in your area or willing to relocate to your area who haven’t been presented with the opportunity to lead a team and are looking for a chance for advancement as a sales manager with another company; perhaps your company.
Lou Sepulveda has more than 35 years of electronic security experience. He has been a leader in sales techniques and dealer development for companies such as ADT, ITI and Security Associates Int’l (SAI). Sepulveda, who is also a published author of well-known security sales method books, presently offers consulting and training to help companies achieve their sales growth goals. In the 1990s, he was a regular contributor to Security Sales magazine with his “Top Notch Sales” column. Listen to him in his “Security Speaking” podcast appearance.