Advice for Sales Managers in Trying Times

The electronic security industry has proven it is not entirely immune to the more than year-long recession. With good leads and sales harder to come by in some sectors, the pressure can be stressful on salespeople. Russ Ackerman, an industry veteran and respected sales professional, lends some fundamental advice to sales managers.

In a tough economy, what can a sales manager do to help the sales team stay positive?

There is nothing much worse that can happen to a sales team than for negativity to creep in. It will spread like wildfire. An effective sales manager must first recognize and deal with it immediately. It must be dealt with on a one-on-one basis behind closed doors. But first, the sales manager must make sure he or she is always positive in front of the team. Keep up that “can-do attitude.

How can sales managers run a more effective meeting?

Well this sort of bridges off the last question. As I see it there are three things a professional manager should do to have an effective sales meeting. Train, motivate and recognize achievement. The sales meeting is not the place to “beat up” your sales team. Keep it exciting and positive. Always start your meeting on time and be well prepared. Remember, you, as the sales manager, are the leader. Your sales team will not be more excited or professional than you are.

What are the basic principles a sales manager needs to keep in mind when leading a team of salespeople?

Well the answer to this question could fill this entire publication, but to sum it up in four words, the basic fundamentals of sales management, as I see it, are: plan, organize, direct and control. I have suggested to new sales managers, or sales managers who are struggling, that they post those words in a prominent place in their office and read them every day. The sales manager has a tremendous responsibility to his or her team. The sales manager who does not follow those four fundamentals is likely to have salespeople who lack direction and ultimately will fail.

What can sales managers do better to motivate their sales team?

We have all heard for years the phrase “compensation drives behavior.” Well that is very true. However, it is not just the financial rewards that motivate a great sales team. I believe that the emotional rewards can be extremely motivational. By that I am referring to the pats on the back, the public recognition in front of the sales team, and personal congratulations from the manager. We actually place an 8X10 photo of our consultant of the month in the lobby of our office for everyone to see. Below the photo is a very large gold sign that says “Top Producer of the Month.” We also have a reserved private parking space that can only be used by our top producer.

It is said that enthusiasm plays a large role in sales. What are your thoughts?

Enthusiasm is extremely important. Anyone can be enthusiastic. It is just an attitude. Your prospect will never get more excited about your product than you will. Enthusiasm is contagious and it shows the prospect that the sales consultant knows what he or she is talking about. Every sales consultant should know their presentation and product so well that they can get excited about all of its features and benefits. Everyone wants to be around an enthusiastic winner. Enthusiasm Sells. This all starts with a motivated sales manager.

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