Your responsibility as sales manager is to help your sales team increase their capacity to perform and improve the outcomes of their performance through solid, visionary leadership.
But what do you do to improve the outcomes of your performance when you’re conducting sales meetings, providing coaching and delivering training? In other words, what do you do to become a better sales team leader? Is your answer, “Not much”?
So, what can you do to improve your performance? In clearer terms, be a better leader to your team. Here are six suggestions:
- Analyze your attitude. How you approach your work not only reveals how you feel about your job, but it also establishes a baseline outlook from which your salespeople develop their attitudes about work and, ultimately, their work ethic. Are you enthusiastic, or do you view your work as an imposition? When facing challenges, do you look for – and find – possibilities, or do you only point out limitations to overcome? It’s difficult for your people to perform at their best and go the extra distance when they perceive that your only goal is to get through another day.
- Adapt your behavior. You and each of your sales team members have a unique personality – a unique preference for interacting with others, looking at things, analyzing data and making decisions. Each team member has different strengths he or she brings to the job. You need to recognize and appreciate those differences; then, adjust your behavior. Your role is to make those differences become building blocks to communications, cooperation and productivity – not roadblocks.
- Acknowledge your limitations. Your primary function as a leader is to guide your people to perform at their best; not be a “know-it-all” who tells them what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Let your salespeople know that you don’t have all the answers (even if you think you do). Include them in the process when you’re setting goals, developing strategies and addressing challenges. Encourage them to offer ideas and input. Their participation, with your leadership, gives them greater ownership in the processes and eventual outcomes.
- Delegate responsibilities. Most likely, some routine activities you regularly perform can be assigned to sales team members. Delegating responsibilities not only frees up your time to invest in more pressing activities, but it also gives your team members greater ownership, which encourages them to perform at their best. Delegating responsibilities facilitates your team members’ personal and professional growth.
- Be a resource. As the team leader, you must be available to listen to the sales people, answer their questions and provide guidance when needed. Let your people know that they can come to you whenever necessary to discuss relevant issues. And when they do, pay attention. Really pay attention. Encouraging interaction and then not paying attention is worse than not encouraging the interaction in the first place.
- Follow up. When you enable your sales team to more fully engage in department operations, it is imperative that you follow up. Let them know how they’re doing; give them timely feedback. Doing so enables you to manage their activities in “real time” rather than after the fact, keep them on track and correct mistakes more quickly.
Use these six suggestions to examine your attitudes and actions. You are sure to find new ways of interacting with your salespeople – ways that will help them improve their performance.
DAVE HARMAN is an associate with Sandler Training. He has over 30 years’ experience in sales and sales management with Fortune 500 companies as well as small, family-owned organizations. He’s held positions from sales to senior management with companies such as Conoco/Vista, Amresco and Ohio Awning, and owns his own business. He earned his MBA with a concentration in Marketing from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. You can reach him at
or (888) 448-2030.