3 Future focused skills a Sales Manager should have to maintain high sales performance
When we think about the skills a sales manager should have, we tend to automatically think about job-specific talents. As a sales manager the type of skills that you strive to build and develop may be related to persuasion, to storytelling, to relationship nurturing, and so on. These skills are imperative for the future of sales management as they directly influence the sales activities themselves. But what about maintaining high sales performance? What skills should a sales manager have then?
The skills a sales manager should have for maintaining high sales performance are a little different. In order to maintain what you’ve already worked to build through your job-specific talents for the future, you’ll need to possess a broader skill set that is less industry related, and more aligned with widespread management and leadership.
Vital skills for tomorrow’s leaders
As a sales leader, you probably don’t see many similarities between what you do, and what a military leader does. Or a church leader. Or a leader in manufacturing. Or in private equity. But despite the vastly different environments, there is something that all leaders have in common: the need to ensure that those they are leading are supporting the overarching organisation’s mission and goals.
The turning point that many businesses across the world are at right now affords an opportunity to step back from the role-specific duties of management, and take a closer look at what a leader is at its very core. It’s an opportunity to identify, build, and develop the essential foundational leadership skills that are necessary today and to keep adjusting them to stay relevant for the future. It’s a chance to use these skills to drive future successes, deliver in the landscape of tomorrow, and maintain high sales performance, no matter what the landscape might look like.
So what future focused skills should a sales manager have to maintain hybrid and remote team performance?
Despite the industry, or sector, or working environment, a leader must always be able to achieve three distinct things. They must create alignment between the business and its people, they must drive the execution of processes, and they must also drive renewal. This ensures that the business is capable of adapting to both internal and external change.
Let’s take a closer look at these three critical management skills:1. Creating alignment
The way that businesses operate at their core is changing. Organisations have needed to adapt to the shifting business landscape. This means that sales teams that continue to work in exactly the same way as before will start to notice an ever-widening gap between what they’re doing, and what’s actually needed to deliver on the sales strategy.
This is where sales managers need to step in with the ability to create better alignment between the business and its people. Having the skill needed to create alignment is an opportunity for managers to redesign and redefine the existing sales strategy - to co-create, communicate, and implement the right market focus - to drive excellence.
Creating alignment means that everyone - not just the team, but every team across the organisation, and the stakeholders themselves - are on the same page. They all share the same vision, and the same idea of how to get there. Everyone is clear on exactly what role they play, making it easy to work in a way that maintains high performance while also ensuring diversity and inclusion in sales.2. Driving execution
Designing a new sales strategy that creates better alignment is one thing. Actually executing this strategy and knowing how to build a sales pipeline is quite another. Managers must have the skills needed to drive execution. They must also be able to identify ways to implement the strategy in an effective and efficient manner that not only maintains performance, but also monitors and improves on it.
For example, to maintain high levels of performance, sales managers should ensure that the strategy is executed across the right client segments. That means focusing on segments that are in the market to convert and buy, while also understanding that these segments may be different to what they were. The right sales process must also be implemented, at the right time.
Ultimately, the skill to drive execution means having the ability to not only see and understand intent, but also to ensure that this intent is actually carried out. With accurate tracking and monitoring, sales managers have an opportunity to make tweaks to the execution to reduce sales dips and maintain optimum performance levels.3. Driving renewal
Businesses have been presented with a number of new opportunities in recent months. The shift to remote working, for example, has broken down one of the primary obstacles standing in the way of globalisation. As a result of these opportunities, organisations are changing. Managers must have the skill needed to see these changes, and adapt accordingly.
With an ability to keep track of organisation-wide shifts, sales managers can drive constant, ongoing renewal amongst their teams to keep the business and the team operating side-by-side during periods of growth and development. They can ensure that the organisational set up and external environment - trends, clients etc. - remain aligned.
A good manager is one that isn’t afraid to renew approaches, renew processes, and renew tried-and-tested ways of working to derive greater value from them. For example, by adapting customer segmentation, the systems and IT landscape, and the strategy as a whole to ensure the team is having the biggest impact on performance.