There are thousands of different leadership styles.
They are the subject of college coursework, unlimited journal articles, and countless books. Supervisors, managers, and executives all develop unique leadership styles, whether they’re on factory floors, in I.T., H.R., or marketing and sales.
Great leaders are essential for the success of any business, but let’s face it: revenue is mostly generated by sales. And sales success is dependent on those sales reps who find leads, nurture them, and ultimately seal the deal. To do this, they rely on their own skill sets, but also on the training, direction, coaching, and support of their sales managers.
If you are a sales manager, no matter what your leadership style is, there are seven characteristics that all great sales managers should have:
1. Clear Communication
Clear communication is an essential trait of all managers. These are some tips that will help you improve your communication with your team:
- Words are important, so play close attention to your word choice. It plays a key role on the message you're trying to convey, as so does voice, tone, and style, especially in writing.
- Avoid sarcasm, and try to provide suggestions instead of simple criticism.
- One half of communication is listening. Be an active listener to really understand your team’s needs and concerns.
- Focus on feedback from your salespeople and acknowledge that you hear and understand them. When you do this, your team members feel respected and valued.
It’s difficult to be a great sales leader without enthusiasm for your job.
Most sales managers were highly enthusiastic, successful salespeople who rose through the ranks before getting their promotion to management. Don’t lose that enthusiasm just because you’re no longer in the field!
Show your team how much you appreciate the job they do every day. Let them know how much faith you have in their abilities to get the job done.
Enthusiasm is contagious. If you have it, everything will fall into place.
3. Recruitment Skills
If you have been a successful salesperson yourself, you already know what it takes to grow in this career. Make a list of the characteristics and qualities that made you and others like you great in outside sales. Develop interview questions with that list in mind, to help uncover those traits in interviewees.
Some skills can be taught; others can’t. Know the difference and be wary of lacking areas.
In addition to this, involve your team members in the hiring process. It will help ensure the new hire is a good fit.
A sales manager that doesn’t personally know and understand each of their team members will never be successful.
Your team is composed of individuals with their own personal lives, successes, failures, and challenges. Celebrate those successes, offer a listening ear and help when they are troubled.
In order to build trust with your team members, take an empathetic approach to knowing some aspects of your team’s personal lives.
Hal Rankin, an employment manager for WowGrade, puts it this way: “When the productivity of a writer falls off, that department manager needs to know why. When the right level of trust has been established, that writer will be willing to explain the situation and the supervisor can provide whatever help he can. This is part of our culture – when employees know you care, they are open and ultimately more productive.”
5. Creation of Positive Work Culture
There are several aspects to a positive work culture – here are the most important:
- Be open and honest when things are good, and bad. Team members will appreciate your candidness.
- Find ways to boost morale. Happy hours, surprise food, family gatherings, tickets to sporting events or concerts - all tell your team that you value them. Celebrate sales milestones publicly and give credit to those responsible.
- Delegate as much as possible, and don’t micromanage. Your team members need to know you trust them to get results, and handle difficult clients. If you do, they will be open with you in addressing their own issues and concerns.
6. Streamline as Much as Possible
The days of salespeople filling out paper and pencil sales and expense reports are over. The days of daily sales meetings are fast disappearing too. Why? Because sales managers have realized that technology can streamline much of the sales process.
Apps that combine route planning with CRM data, like Badger Maps, are a must for field sales teams. Similarly, most sales teams use apps to track their customers’ progress through the sales funnel.
Delegating is also a great idea. For example, sales managers can find a suitable payroll company to manage their recordkeeping and regulations for each employee so they don't have to spend time on admin tasks.
7. Commit to Training and Development
The field of sales is constantly evolving. Customers have different needs than they did only a few years ago.
Your sales team needs cutting edge professional development to stay ahead of the curve.
Put in place a training program that caters to their strengths, weaknesses and learning styles, and you’ll get a higher performing team.
You might be a good sales manager, but being a great leader is even more important.
Engage and actively support your team members. Get to know them personally. Coach, encourage and celebrate them.
Be a leader first, and a manager second.
Author Bio: Dorian Martin is a Content Marketing specialist for Studicus and a freelance writer on all things business-related. He is a frequent contributor to many business blogs and is in the process of writing a book on marketing for the 21st century.