Over the past few months our team has spoken with dozens of sales managers on how they lead their teams. We want to share with you some of the most important lessons learned that can hopefully be useful to new managers, or those looking to get better.
The reality is that no team can be effective without consistent communication. For sales teams that means clear communication about what will make your reps successful at their jobs in the form of ongoing training (CRM usage, Objection Handling through Role Playing, Understanding Competitors etc.)
Additionally, most managers we’ve talked to expressed the importance of having their sales reps regularly communicate with them about their difficulties, wins, and progress on each deal. Today, 90% of the managers we interviewed hold weekly all team pipeline meetings, AND weekly 1 on 1s with their reps.
The founder of LightHouse writes a lot about the topic of effective 1 on 1 meetings between managers and their direct reports. There are many tools that help with this, such as LightHouse and 15Five. Our own deal management tool at Tascit is helpful specifically for sales teams, since most relevant communication with reps needs to happen around the deals that they’re working on a daily basis.
2) Leading By Example
The most effective way to get your sales team motivated and performing at their peak is by leading by example. As cliche as it may sound, it’s easy to forget how to consistently follow through with this.
Want your reps to increase their cold call volume? Show them how it’s done! There’s nothing more motivating for a rep (especially the less experienced ones) than their manager or VP picking up the phone, cold calling someone and owning the conversation. We know you don’t have time to be doing cold calling all the time, afterall you’ve been through that early in your career, but joining your team on this tough task even once a week can greatly motivate them and make them more confident about the calls they need to make.
The same thing applies to your more experienced account execs. They may be cold calling pros, but you want them to get better about identifying the necessary stakeholders in a company and getting those people involved early on in the selling process, or disqualifying leads faster that likely won’t close. You’d be surprised how effective it can be to let them listen in on a few calls where you lead the way.
New sales managers sometimes feel uncomfortable with confrontation, but there’s a relatively painless way to make sure the reps that report to you are held accountable for their work.
Define clear expectations with every new hire on your team when they start, and reinforce them week after week. If they know from the get go what their responsibilities are, and you actively remind them by checking in on their progress, you will avoid a lot of the tension that comes with reps that feel that they’re being judged unfairly.
We’ll discuss more lessons learned in our next post.