Columnists Brad Huisken Sales Manager - the toughest job!

Sales Manager - the toughest job!

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I really believe that the job of sales manager is one of the toughest, if not the toughest job in retail. Too often a person is made the sales manager simply because they were one of the best salespeople. Too many times the sales manager is given the job without any formal training or guidance and they are expected to get salespeople to perform. Hopefully this article will shed a little bit of light on the expectations and the strategies necessary to be a successful sales manager.

Here is what I find happening in many retail jewelry organizations. The salespeople are given the job, not knowing if they are any good, then no one checks, and then nothing is done to help them improve. On the other hand salespeople take a job and reach a level of competency or incompetence depending on how you look at it, and then they let their knowledge and education stop.

In your sales management career there are three basic types of salespeople that you will encounter. Each type is uniquely different and requiring uniquely different sales management strategies and techniques.

The three types of salespeople are:

  1. Under-Achievers
  2. Safe-Zoners
  3. Over-Achievers

Of these three types of salespeople: 10% are Under-Achievers; 80% are Safe-Zoners; and 10% are Over-Achievers.

Your responsibility as a sales manager is:

  1. To move the under-achievers to the next level or replace them.
  2. To increase the productivity of the safe-zoner.
  3. To keep the over-achiever operating at a high level of peak performance.

I Believe: Your success as a sales manager is measured by the percentage of your salespeople that reach their individual sales goals.

If 100% of your salespeople reach their goals, you are an effective sales manager. If only 50% of your salespeople reach their goals and yet your store reaches its goal, you are missing a tremendous opportunity to be a quota buster. If the store isn’t reaching its goal then you are looked down upon as not being an effective sales manager. Get all your people hitting and/or exceeding their individual goals and then the store goal will be shattered.

In order to fulfill your responsibilities as a sales manager you must: Provide the leadership, knowledge, training, incentives and consequences to recruit, hire, develop and maintain successful salespeople.Your company and your people are looking to you to be the leader in your workplace.

Adhere to the following sixteen principles of sales management and I know you will be well on your way to being a successful sales manager.

The Sixteen Principles of

Successful Sales Management

1) Manage your people individually. In order to be a successful sales manager you cannot manage your people in groups, they must be managed individually. It is perfectly all right to give praise and accolades in a group environment, as a matter of fact I would encourage you to do so. In any situation where you are training, giving constructive criticism, taking disciplinary action, or having a coaching session it must be one-on-one in a private setting.

2) Lead by example. Your people are looking to you to provide a positive example. One of the reasons that managers lack the respect of their staffs is that they are guilty of the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do”. In sales management you must follow all the policies, procedures and standards of your company. You cannot be an effective leader without the respect of your staff. You have to be self-disciplined in order to be a leader.

3) Instill discipline in your organization. The way to gain respect is through instilling discipline in your organization. People want to live and work in an environment that has justified rules and regulations.

4) The Golden Rule of Sales Management. Treat others as you want to be treated. If you treat people like children you will have nothing but children working for you. If you treat people as adults then you will have adults working for you. You want a professional, mature staff. The only way this will happen is when you treat them as mature human beings.

5) Manage on objective information. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinions, however, there is no place in sales management for opinions. Your coaching, training, and discipline must be based on fact and not fiction. You can not manage on subjective information, it must be objective. People will improve what you inspect not what you expect.

6) Be goal oriented. As a sales manager you have to establish goals and then be insistent upon achieving them. Through talking numbers and goals you will be able to instill and maintain a goal oriented operation.

7) Get on the floor. The only way to be an effective sales manager is to be involved in the sales process. If you are in a store situation you have to be on the floor listening in on your salespeople’s presentations.

8) Be direct and to the point. When giving your salespeople coaching or training it is essential that you be direct and to the point. People need to know exactly where they stand. Through your direct and to the point conversations they will get the message that you are conveying to them.

9) Catch them doing something right. The most dominate reason that salespeople leave their position is due to their inability to be or feel successful. It is up to you to let your salespeople know what they are doing right. Your positive feedback must be 10 to 1 over any negative feedback. Don’t give both positive and negative feedback in the same session. You need to either have a positive session or a constructive session.

10) Your sales force is either getting better or worse. Nothing ever stands still. If your sales staff is maintaining their performance level, then they are, in fact, getting worse. This is due to the fact that everyone around them is working to improve. You have to have the mind set that your people can always make both higher quality sales and a higher quantity of sales.

11) You must know your people well enough to know how to move them individually. In order to manage your salespeople effectively and individually you must know what moves your people individually. People are inspired and motivated by different factors. Some work for money, others for personal time, etc. It is your job to find out what moves each of them and what it is that will inspire them to reach for higher levels of performance.

12) Be firm but fair. Sales management by exception does not work with the vast majority of people. To be effective you must treat people equally and fairly. Your disciplinary measures must be delivered firmly and fairly just as your positive measures must be delivered in an equal and fair manner.

13) Give them quality time. One of the biggest reasons that sales managers aren’t as successful as they could be is that they are too busy doing all the other functions of their jobs and end up ignoring their salespeople. Effective sales managers have to be able to both delegate duties and responsibilities and manage their time well enough to allow for quality time with their salespeople. My suggestion is that you have individual weekly scheduled meetings that last for 10 – 15 minutes in addition to your regular sales meetings

14) Business is Business. Personal relationships have no place in business for an effective sales manager. You have to be able to maintain a professional business relationship with your sales staff. Your people work for you; they are not your friends. If in fact you do have a personal relationship with someone or all of your sales staff you have to keep the two relationships separate during business hours.

15) Let them know what is expected of them. Just as people want to know how they are doing they also want to know exactly what is expected of them. If they don’t know what you expect them to do how could they possibly meet your expectations? In all areas of their position you have to let them know what you expect of them.

16) Make it fun. Your salespeople also want to enjoy and have fun at their profession. As the leader of your organization, it is up to you to make it enjoyable and fun for your sales staff. Through your positive feedback, training, coaching, contests, games and knowing each of your people individually you can make it fun for them.

A successful sales staff is: completely trained, working toward objectives, held accountable for performance, and rewarded based on results.

Visit www.iastraining.com to subscribe to Brad Huisken’s free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight,” or for any of his training programs. To contact IAS Training directly call 800-248-7703 or fax 303-936-9581.

 
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