Sales Management Tips: 8 Ways the Best Sales Managers Stand Out

Learn sales management tips that will allow you to emulate the tactics used by the most effective sales managers.

August 3, 2014

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If you're a sales manager, you don’t need me to tell you that managing a team of reps - all with various skills, motivations and egos - can be a complicated, challenging role.

So how do some sales managers steadily lead a team of driven, goal-oriented sales reps while others encounter constant struggles and roadblocks?

Here are 8 ways the best sales managers make life easier and exceed sales goals:

1. They do less managing and more leading

Sales metrics are important, but effective sales managers know that micro-managing subpar stats is like using chewing gum to fix a leaky pipe. There’s a bigger issue that needs to be addressed to ensure the pipe(line) remains healthy.

Star sales managers find ways to work with team members, not over their shoulder. They’re big brothers in a good way – a caring mentor who aims to understand so that they can tweak motivation and reward tactics to align with individual preferences.

2. They establish a culture of success

Winning sales teams have a winning vibe. If that doesn’t sound scientific, that’s because it’s not. It’s on the sales manager to lead by example and establish a social setting that facilitates confidence and cohesion.

When the sales team buys into the pillars of culture and vision, adhering to the details of the sales methodology becomes second nature.

3. They pick their team carefully

Hiring the best means a bigger initial investment in talent, but it’s almost always worth it. It only makes sense that sales managers who spend less time hiring and training are poised for greater success. Sales managers who can find the right team members and retain them have more time to find and capitalize on opportunities while other sales managers get mired in a cyclical recruiting-hiring-training rut.

Picking the team carefully means knowing how, and when, to harness high-performing mavericks and being decisive about whether to coach up or part ways with stragglers. Being a good leader and establishing a culture of success makes it much easier to acquire not only the best talent, but the best talent for your team.

4. They stick to their KPIs

The best sales managers strive for as few rules as possible. And the rules they do have are crystal clear. Sales teams work best when they know exactly what is expected of them, and when. They should know exactly what will happen when they meet expectations and they know what to expect when they miss.

The KPI’s that matter vary by company, but what should remain consistent from company to company is the consistent emphasis on – and work toward – achieving those KPI’s. Many of today’s sales managers choose to focus on “effort KPI’s” because as long as the effort is consistent, the rest can be coached.

The LinkedIn Sales Navigator Usage Reporting dashboard has become a go-to tool among sales managers for real-time insights into the sales activities that matter.

5. They strike the right balance with processes

Sales methodologies range from the stunningly simple to the ridiculously complicated. Regardless of where the sales methodology falls on the complexity continuum, every team needs one.

Great sales managers create sales methodologies that are as complex as they need to be and not a bit more. This is easier said than done as we all know what’s best for our teams, but sales managers must trust their ability to manage “unwritten” rules. Sometimes rare exceptions create wins. Sometimes team members find off-the-wall tactics that work. These things don’t happen with a rigid methodology.

6. They coach in the moment

The goal of coaching is to make people better. Awesome sales managers recognize when reps don’t need, or don’t want, to be coached and they leave them alone to do their high-priority tasks. But they also don’t hesitate to drop everything and take advantage of opportunities to help sales reps solve problems the very moment they are faced with them.

Real-time learning works best for most things, including sales strategies. Coaching in the moment provides sales reps with the confidence needed to conquer similar problems down the road.

7. They have a keen eye for negative patterns and they nip them in the bud

Savvy sales managers keep their finger on the pulse of sales team morale. Building a culture of success where team members believe in the vision is critical.

Sometimes difficult conversations are necessary. Great sales managers don’t dive into these conversations without thought, but they don’t delay them either.

8. They find ways to make it fun

Sales managers who genuinely care about their team’s happiness tend to get more from their reps. Celebrate your wins and celebrate them often. Allow your trusted team members to goof off without consequence. Let them celebrate without the boss around.

Making work fun boosts productivity by helping your team better deal with the constant pressures that come with sales.

Even the best sales managers aren’t perfect. We know this. But as long as you lead by example, genuinely care for your team and hold yourself to a higher standard, you can become an elite sales manager who reps love to work for.

Request your free demo of the new LinkedIn Sales Navigator and see how better insights lead to better sales management.

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