Sales managers are more than just bosses that lead a team into battle. Sometimes a leader must turn into a sales coach who studies the team, places the proper people in the right places and maneuvers staff to win the day. Some of the best team managers balance people versus metrics.
Collecting data on each team member is easiest part of coaching. Finding out who sells what, and to what type of customer, can be done with specialized computer databases and spreadsheets. Knowing what to do with this data is part of what makes a good sales coach. Applying this data to everyday use completes the people versus metrics picture. Turning your leadership skills into coaching takes a concerted effort on your part.
Identify your leadership style. How can you, as a good sales coach, point out other people's strengths and weaknesses if you do not even know your own? Focus on five things to determine how you lead--the team concept, conflict management, involvement, employee engagement and team building. With the team concept, make sure the team comes before the individual, including yourself. How do you mitigate conflicts judiciously and fairly? Do you know when to get involved or when to leave people alone to do their jobs? Make sure you pay attention to everyone on the team, not just the stragglers. Even the top salesperson needs encouragement and feedback. Do you lead by example and practice sales pitches with everyone else on your team? Answer these questions first before you put on your "coach" cap.
Assess the strong points and weaknesses of your team as the next step. A good sales coach puts team members where they excel the most. If Jim is really good at selling watches to women looking for gifts for husbands, then Jim belongs behind the watch counter. If Jenny loves designer necklaces with earring sets for anniversary or Valentine's Day gifts, then Jenny takes over that department when she works. Metrics are a crucial component of setting your players on the field, but do not spend too much time studying them. Look at the data, chart it out and go from there.
Become a people person for everyone on the team. Build trust with each individual and allow them to make mistakes. If each player knows you have their backs, they are more likely to give an all-out effort for the coach. Track and test each person to see if they have learned key sales concepts. Talk to your team to ascertain a solution for someone struggling to close the sale. Make everyone accountable for their sales and training, including the sales coach.
Finding a balance among all of these sales concepts is not easy with differing personalities and ways of accomplishing tasks. The most effective coaches set team goals and accomplish them by promoting behaviors that lead to long-term improvements. Balance teamwork sessions with individual help, use technology as a tool and reward success. A powerful sales team leads to efficiency, more revenue and greater rewards.
Turning from a simple, mild-mannered manager into a sales coach takes practice, patience and persistence. Find a mentor, read books and study the best salespeople in the business to learn how to be the best manager you can be for your sales team.
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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