Great Sales Managers leave clues as to why they have successful sales teams. When coaching salespeople one-on-one, there are consistent practices that emerge to give us insight as to what really works. I've assembled seven of them here that top performing Sales Managers do over and over again.
1. They identify their salesperson's selling skills
Assess the selling skills in each step of the sales process. How would rate your sales rep's abilities in the Lead Generation step? How we do they build lists, establish credibility, select their words, respond to objections, gain access to decision-makers? What about the other steps of the sales process? Take time to list their skills and and assign a rating to each one.
2. They identify their salesperson's personal skills
Personal skills relate to a sales rep's personality style, communication style and core motivators. In addition, they also relate to their cognitive abilities such as: ability to handle rejection, self-confidence, empathy, emotional control, persistence, and many others. An in-depth sales assessment is an excellent way to uncover the personal skills of your salespeople to identify their strengths and areas of development.
3. They create and follow a custom development plan for each sales rep
Regardless of the strength of the sales process, each sales rep will have a different set of selling skills and personal skills to develop. Great Sales Managers take the time to observe and assess each member of their sales team to create a priority list of developmental areas. They stick to it, take the time to develop each one and rarely attempt to develop more than one skill at a time.
4. They ask a lot of questions.
When a Sales Manager does all the talking, they create dependence and minimize the sales rep's opportunity to develop self-awareness and independence. Asking questions gets your sales reps thinking about their quality of execution in order to self-evaluate their performance. When a sales rep uses critical thinking to reflect on their sales performance (instead of you just telling them what they did right or wrong), their level of self-awareness grows and their level of buy-in to develop a certain skill is much higher.
5. They differentiate between a "knowledge gap" and a "thinking gap".
Sometimes sales reps don't know what to do in a certain selling situation. They may lack product knowledge or the specific tasks in a certain step of the sales process. Those are knowledge gaps that require the Sales Manager to explain what to do. In many cases, however, the sales rep has a thinking gap--they are not fully engaging their brain to examine the possibilities that led to a particular outcome (i.e. they fail to fully qualify buyers so they don't get contracts signed). This is where great Sales Managers ask questions to get the sales rep to think through the problem themselves. This helps them own the solution once the Sales Manger leads them to it through good questioning.
6. They role-play... a lot.
Role play is much like practice on an athletic team. The more you run the plays, the higher the confidence, the better the execution and the better the results. Great Sales Managers demonstrate to their sales reps what good execution of a particular skill looks like and then help them to replicate it. They break down the steps of the sales process into individual tasks and the skills required to be successful. Then they run the plays over and over again to develop proficiency, and ultimately, mastery.
7. The track their sales reps progress
Tracking a sales reps progress is exciting for both you and your sales rep. They feel a sense of accomplishment when they improve on a skill and experience the payoff on a sales call. Identify what "success" looks like for any particular skill and then start with where your sales rep is. As you coach them through their development, you'll see them become more astute at identifying their weaknesses and how to improve. When your sales rep masters a particular skill, celebrate their success and then move on to the next skill. Great Sales Managers are in a perpetual state of developing skills across their sales team.
Follow these 7 guidelines and watch your sales team member become more confident, more proficient and more successful.