Managing a sales team can pose many challenges. It’s easy to neglect the personal side of job when the focus is heavily placed on generating revenue. It’s not an easy job, but a successful sales manager must strike a balance between getting results and developing their team.
In this article, we look at how a sales manager can get the most out of their staff, keep them motivated & happy, and aid their professional development.
Manage your working relationships
As a manager it can be difficult to strike a balance between being a boss and being a friend. A manager may struggle to gain respect from the full work force if they are seen as having favourites amongst the sales team, which could occasionally result in them being given special treatment.
If you have been promoted to manager and have made friends at the company over the years, then try to be as professional as possible and maintain these relationships outside of working hours to avoid it impacting your managerial duties.
You must be versatile and not assume the same solution will work in every scenario. Good salespeople can have strong personalities and must be managed on an individual basis. A highly competitive workplace can pose many problems and result in rifts between staff.
Sometimes a soft approach may be the best way of dealing with a disgruntled employee, while other situations may require you to stamp your authority, or strict discipline may be the most effective solution.
Be a good listener
In order to be an effective listener, a manager must be attentive and responsive. If an employee is talking to you, give them your full attention and ignore any distractions. It’s easy for a person to feel devalued if they think their boss doesn’t care about what they have to say.
Talk to your staff one-on-one
Speaking to employees directly can build rapport and help you have a better understanding of how the sales team are performing. Being approachable can improve trust levels between you and your employees, and you may find things out that you might have missed if you had been less personable.
Try to let the employee lead the conversation so they can get their point across and how they would like it to be addressed.
Try to delegate
Put your time and effort into things that are important – trying to do a bit of everything means things you won’t be giving your full attention to essential tasks. Focus on the tasks that have the most value and delegate other jobs to reliable employees. Placing extra responsibility on staff will show that you trust them, while allowing you to use your energy and resources more efficiently.
Encourage a happy work/life balance
Employees are most productive when they are allowed to balance their working life and personal life comfortably. Employees who go home dreading an email late at night or first thing in the morning are likely to get frustrated. Give your staff some freedom and establish a cut off of correspondence so people can enjoy their free time.
Respect your staff
Employees like to feel appreciated and respected by their boss – why should they treat you with respect if it is not reciprocated? If one of your sales team has a personal problem, then show compassion and work with them to find a solution that helps.
Showing empathy will help build strong relationships and employees are more likely to give their all for a manager who cares. If part of the sales force seems stressed, then take them to one side and try and ease the pressure. Show a genuine interest in their personal life and treat them as a valued individual.
Team members who don’t feel appreciated are also more likely to slack off or avoid work if their manager doesn’t treat them well.
Feedback is key
Praise your sales team when they hit targets or go beyond what is expected of them. People are not only driven by financial reward, they also want to feel like they are making a difference in their job and that it is being acknowledged by their manager. Performance levels can easily drop if staff feel you are not paying attention to their good work.
The same can be said for staff who fail to hit targets – if this is the case, then simply ask them why they think they didn’t achieve their goals last month and work with them to identify any issues that could be tackled in the following month, so they can achieve them. As a manager, you have to guide your employees to success, so while it’s important to hear their views and suggestions, ultimately you have to be able to lead them towards the correct path.
Do not wait for appraisals or scheduled reviews to offer feedback. Delayed praise serves no purpose – if a person achieves record sales then let them know how pleased you are immediately.
It is also important to set clear goals to monitor performance – if your team don’t have a target to aim for then they may find it difficult to push themselves. Establish standards and ask questions when a person drops below the levels that are expected of them.
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