Sales Management Best Practices: How a Shift in Attitude Can Ensure Excellence
If you’re here, you’re probably striving for excellence.
Anyone in sales who’s comfortable with mediocrity won’t get far, especially in today’s rapidly evolving, competitive market.
If you’re happy enough being an okay sales manager, then you might want to move along – or consider a career change!
But, let’s assume you want to be successful. No. More than successful.
Let’s assume your goal is to be one of the greatest sales managers of all time.
And why wouldn’t you want to be? Of the sales reps who exceed their annual quota, 69% rate their sales manager as excellent or above average.
So how do you become a successful sales manager? That all depends on how you define success.
How do you define sales management success?
Sales management – the process by which a company drives revenue by meeting its goals, targets, and objectives – is the most important function in a business.
What was once a fairly simple job has evolved along with the industry and become a multi-faceted role with much higher stakes.
How does it feel to know that as a sales manager, you play a uniquely critical part in the success of your company?
This is the part where you might expect us to launch into an exhaustive list of best practices from The Most Successful Sales Managers Ever.
But don’t you think we should take a step back and first, talk about the actual meaning of success?
Success is defined by the Oxford dictionary as:
The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
Let’s take a further step back. As a sales manager, what is your aim or purpose?
A good sales manager might answer:
“My goal is to drive sales and boost revenue by any means necessary. I get results from my team every time!”
A great sales manager might say:
“I enable and empower my team to not just meet their goals and targets, but to exceed them. I do this by coaching and motivating my sales reps, nurturing their personal development through ongoing training, and leading by example.”
Being a capable sales manager requires a combination of:
- the necessary skills,
- the right characteristics,
- and the relevant work experience required for the role.
But there’s one thing that makes the difference between existing as a good manager and succeeding as an excellent one: your attitude.
Does that mean you should scrap every list of best practices you’ve ever come across? Of course not. These resources – let’s call them ‘practical best practices’– are always handy tools to have in your managerial toolbox.
What are the top 5 practical sales management best practices?
Pretend you’re building the Sales Management Headquarters. Before you wow the world with your dazzling penthouse, you need a strong base on which to build. Think of the following ‘practical best practices’ as laying the foundation.
1. Hone your hiring skills
Developing a well-thought-out recruitment and hiring strategy will be your key to finding the best of the best – a team of sales reps who are:
- Out-of-the-box thinkers
2. Choose the right sales methodology
A sales methodology is a set of principles that outlines how your company approaches each phase of the sales process. These principles will help you:
- Clarify your sales process
- Make it easier to track and manage across the whole company
With some being more suited to certain stages of the sales process than others, you’ll want to mix and match.
3. Make friends with metrics
Sales reporting is the most essential component of sales management.
By consistently monitoring and analyzing your KPIs, you’ll have data to act upon when it comes to fine-tuning your sales strategy, instead of using trial and error!
A systematic approach to reporting lets you accurately forecast future sales revenue and lets your salesforce know:
- How they’re being measured
- How they’re progressing
- How they can improve
4. Adhere to a process
A sales management process is a series of steps that allows you to achieve your goals. These steps include strategy, sales forecasting, goal-setting, and the writing and execution of your sales plan.
Your sales management process will help your team run like a well-oiled machine, ensuring they:
- Stay aligned
- Work towards the same goal
- Meet their targets
- Increase revenue
5. Prioritize planning
As a sales manager, you need a water-tight sales strategy – a documented plan for positioning and selling your product that’s made up of a series of tasks.
To set the vision and strategy for your salesforce, you’ll need to determine targets based on your company’s objectives. This requires planning, and plenty of it.
But it’ll be worth it.
When implemented correctly, these practical best practices will serve your business and your bottom line. As we said, there’s nothing wrong with them.
But what we’re focusing on today are the best practices that will best serve your team.
Because here’s the thing – if you serve your team first, you will create a ripple effect. And this won’t only affect your bottom line. It will make your team stronger, happier, and more productive.
Implementing Customer-centric best practices will take you from being a good sales manager to one of the greats.
What are the top 5 customer-centric sales management best practices?
It’s time to build our penthouse – the pièce de résistance of Sales Management HQ.
1. Be a coach, not a boss
Being a good coach is crucial to your success as a sales manager. How crucial? Over 60% of sales reps are more likely to leave their job if their manager is a poor coach.
The best coaches don’t tell their sales reps where they’re falling short and how they need to improve. They show them by acting as a mirror and reflecting what they couldn’t see before.
Imagine a friend has come to you with a problem. He’s not sure if the relationship he’s in is right for him.
Do you take this opportunity to tell him that actually, you agree, and here’s why you can’t stand his girlfriend? You could, but that approach might come back to bite you, especially if your friend disagrees.
Or do you ask him questions that will lead him to the choice he needs to make? Questions like:
- Do you feel you share the same values?
- Do you see yourself growing old with her?
- In what ways are you settling?
- Does she make you a better person?
You don’t give your sales reps the answers. You show them the answers.
2. Lead with respect, not fear
Power tripping might make you feel important for a hot minute, but if you’re a decent person you’ll feel bad about it later. Besides, it’s a pretty backward way to act if your goal is to build a good reputation and earn respect from your team!
Have you ever heard a parent say to a disobedient child:
“If I’d done that as a kid, I’d have gotten a slap!”
What they’re really saying is:
“As a child, I feared my parents and was scared into behaving.”
Most modern parents don’t want their children to behave out of fear. And most modern managers don’t want to intimidate their team into performing.
It doesn’t matter if your end goal is a cooperative child or a high-performing salesforce. It’s trust and mutual respect that will garner long-lasting results.
This leads us to the crux of your job as a manager: encouraging and inspiring sustainable behavior.
3. EQ over IQ
Did you know that leaders with high emotional intelligence create more connected and motivated teams? Academic achievements can get you far, but emotional intelligence is the real key to being a great manager.
Being emotionally intelligent means you’re able to:
- Analyze and identify your own emotions
- Gauge the emotions of others
- Communicate your feelings effectively
- Admit when you’re wrong
- Show vulnerability
Like Brené Brown said,
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”
Having the courage to be vulnerable in front of your team members, will help them to look inwards, and in turn, develop their EQ.
Emotional intelligence will help you succeed in every step of the management process from recruiting the right individuals to one-on-one coaching.
4. Welcome change
If you’ve been in sales for a while, you’ll have already witnessed substantial change.
And to stay in the game as a competitive player, you need to expect more change – and lots of it! But tolerating it and welcoming it are two different things altogether. You can choose to:
- Accept it, albeit begrudgingly
- Roll your eyes at new-fangled ways of working
- Lament that you preferred things the way they were
Or, you can choose to:
- Look at every change as an opportunity for growth and transformation
- Keep your finger on the pulse so you can predict change before it happens
- Be excited about what the future of sales holds
Positive attitudes are contagious. Embracing change with an optimistic outlook will inspire your team to do the same, which results in an agile and hungry salesforce who’s ready to take the future by storm.
5. Get better – together
Speaking of embracing change, Did you know that training and education can make the difference between staying competitive or losing your edge?
Not to mention that individuals whose employers invest in training are 83% more likely to feel happier in their job. And happier employees are more likely to be:
- Team players
But, it’s not enough to create a culture of continuous training and development for your team. You need to invest in your development too. Doing so will enable you to manage and lead your team to success.
How do you set yourself up for success – today?
It’s all well and good to want to shift your attitude. But how do you go about putting the above people-centric best practices into, well, practice?
If you desire to change your behavior for the better, you’re already starting strong.
Here’s what else you can do:
- Set aside time for coaching your staff. This week. Today. If you don’t think you have time for coaching, then reevaluate your schedule. Make time.
- Work on improving your emotional intelligence. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There are many ways to boost your EQ.
- Prioritize your professional development. Tell yourself you are worth investing in. Krauthammer training programs bring out the best in you, which is the only way you can bring out the best in your team.
Sales managers who complete our leadership and management programs feel rejuvenated and ready for the future. Because they leave with the most important tool they need to be great coaches and managers – a shift in their attitude.