40% of sales managers quit within the first 18 months, according to Steve Rosen, author of ‘Star Results’.
That’s a jaw-dropping statistic on many levels. This retention rate can completely disrupt a sales team. For this reason, many sales teams never gain the momentum needed to reach scalable success. But is it really that surprising? Or are sales managers being set up to fail from the outset?
How are Sales Managers Being Set Up to Fail?There are several factors that play into sales managers not sticking with their team. Too often, managers are promoted for the wrong reasons to start with. Sales or managing directors often decide to promote their best salesperson. They may fear the successful, hungry, ambitious individual will leave as there are limited growth opportunities available. On top of that, new managers receive inadequate training and support. Many assume that strong sales skills correlate with strong sales management skills. However, the best salespeople do not always make ideal sales managers. They can sell, but are they prepared to build, lead, grow and manage a team? Do they have the humility to lead by example? Sales courses do not prepare someone for leadership. Giving someone the title of sales manager without the appropriate training and development is setting them up to fail. In reality, you’re setting your whole sales team up to fail. When your management is ineffective, your entire sales team will be unsuccessful.
3 Key Sales Management Skills for SuccessOn the other hand, sales managers that are properly recruited and trained are exactly what sales teams need. New sales managers recruited for valid business reasons embark on an incredible journey through which they grow and develop exponentially – as long as they receive the appropriate training, coaching and continuous support. How can you set your next sales manager up for success? Let’s look at 3 key sales manager skills that you should instil so that they will be ready to effectively lead a successful team.
The key to differentiating good sales manager candidates lies in understanding their motivation, mindset and methodology.
MotivationWhat does your sales manager aspire to and how do they see their role within the context of what they want to achieve long term? If the candidate is interested solely in monetary gain or status, they are unlikely to proactively put the needs of their team first. Instead, they will be more inclined to make short-term decisions that provide quick wins. This is why it is vital to choose a candidate who is invested in their role, their team and your company’s goals as a whole. It is clear that a sales manager is ineffective without vision. A sales team needs someone who is invested in not only the team’s success but the entire business. When a sales manager can pair their own professional motivations with the team’s vision, their leadership will be much more empowering. Your sales manager should receive in-depth training on the core values and motivations of the company. With this, they can buy in even more to the company’s vision, as well as further motivate their team to reach their targets. This motivation allows sales managers to create relevant sales goals that directly impact the company’s objectives.
MindsetWhat makes a sales manager tick, and how do they respond to everyday challenges and frustrations? If a candidate is inflexible, rigid in their thought processes and closed to other perspectives, they are likely to dismiss viewpoints that differ from their own. They are also, possibly, more inclined to display a more authoritative manager figure. Every sales team is different, so each team’s dynamics and needs vary. This is why it is essential to find someone that can be flexible enough to deal with team dynamics. On any type of team, an encouraging and empowering manager is always effective. It is important to find a candidate that is in a mindset to work in the trenches with their team. An effective sales manager mindset is flexible, humble and willing to learn and grow. Once sales team members observe that their manager has that mindset, they will follow in their footsteps.
How does a successful sales manager apply sales strategies and principles that form their own sales management approach? If the candidate does not have the appropriate motivation or mindset, their execution of the sales plan is likely to be haphazard and disjointed. They will be focused entirely on the end goal without understanding the impact of their actions on their team, the business, or critically, on their reputation. However, with the right training and soft skills, focused on building their motivation and mindset, methodology will naturally follow. New sales managers should be equipped with skills of effective communication and delegation. Just as their mindset and motivation should be team-focused, so should their methods. This includes leading by example, delegating tasks appropriately to team members and creating a supportive team environment.
Investing in a Successful Sales ManagerFor sales managers to have a better chance of success, it is essential to emphasise the professional development of soft skills that will enable them to interact effectively with individuals at all levels of the organisation.
The carrot and stick approach, or using simple reward and punishment motivations, needs to evolve to consider new challenges and emerging ways of working. The success of every sales manager comes from understanding not only themselves but the individuals they work with as well. The needs of these individuals are constantly evolving; hence they need to be engaged with empathy in a more thoughtful way that motivates them to realise their potential. Remember that training is an ongoing process, so continual development should be the priority in preparing a candidate to manage a sales team. Invest in sales training programs that can provide this preparation. Get your candidates to take the Sales Skills Scorecard, a short evaluation of their sales approach and mindset. This feedback can be insightful on candidates’ potential and room for improvement on managing and leading a sales team. And when you find the right candidate, check out the Sales Management Toolkit from London School of Sales, an interactive course that provides the key skills to set up a sales manager for success.