Category Archives: Sales Management
When I recently discovered that Jeb Blount had a new book out called “People Follow You”, I was very excited! I have been thoroughly enjoying his content since I started listening to the “Sales Guy – Quick and Dirty Tips” podcast last year. I really enjoyed this video on leadership and am sure you will too! Stop by and check out the website for his new book at:
Managing, coaching and/or leading a team can be a very rewarding role when things are going well. There’s a method to the madness in motivating and inspiring team members. When things don’t go well, the accountability has to fall back on the manager, and tough questions need to be asked. One of the questions that has always intrigued me is,
“Do you know your team members?” (yeah, yeah I do!)
“Do you really KNOW them?”
I heard a story once about a sports star who was allegedly upset that his General Manager did not phone or visit him while he was in the hospital recovering from surgery. This caused a great debate – whether the manager should have had to make personal contact, or if it was satisfactory that his support team did the checking in.
I had a strong opinion on the situation initially, and concluded that the player was another over paid athlete who was whining and wanted a “big hug” from his adoring fans! A radio announcer quickly put it in to perspective for me. He said that although it was ridiculous to expect a General Manager to make calls to a player in the hospital, he needed to know his players. If all it took to keep a multimillion dollar player happy was an occasional phone call or visit to the hospital, was it really that big a deal? Maybe he only had to do things similarly with a handful of players, but it would have kept harmony within the team. Speculation ensued and the player ended up being let go in a very public dispute.
“The Blind Side” movie provided another great lesson about knowing players. A high school football coach had an offensive lineman on his team who was having difficulties blocking opposing players. The coach got frustrated, and did not know how to teach the player to block better, and protect the quarterback. The player’s mom was watching that practice, and went on to the field and gave some insight to her son. She knew that he had scored very well on testing at school when the topic was protection. She gave him examples of how he had protected the family and others close to him over time, and how it related to the football team concept. It really sparked something inside him.
From that point on, he did an incredible job protecting the quarterback. The mom commented to the coach that he needed to know his players better. Every time the player struggled and was not blocking as well in the future, they just had to remind him again that this was his “football family” and he needed to protect them too!
In today’s business environment, now more than ever, Sales Managers and Executives need to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies of each of their team members. In the sales profession, some reps will be better at presenting, others will have more technical knowledge, and some will be customer relationship building standouts.
Work your butt off to understand the different personalities that you are managing, and adjust your style when dealing with each of them . Focus on assisting them in areas of weakness, and capitalize on their strengths. Well-rounded reps will be much more successful on your teams in the long run than those who are one-dimensional.
Managers need to be prepared to change-up their leadership strategies based on their team member’s needs. If your team genuinely knows that your number one priority is their success, life at work should already be good if not great. If things aren’t going well with your team, ask yourself:
- How well do I know each individual?
- What motivates them day-to-day?
- What are their long-term goals?
- What can I do to get to know each person better?
- How can I further their career development? (i.e. one-on-one coaching, encouraging continued education, job shadowing, mentoring)
Taking time to get to know your employees gives you valuable insight into leading your team effectively. Happy employees are more productive which is a win-win for everyone.
As we start a new year, people in the sales profession get to “wipe the slate clean” and start all over again.
Last year’s results are in the rear-view mirror, and it is game on once again!
- Here are five phrases that I focus on each year after “the ball drops” in Times Square
- “What Have You Done For Me Lately? – If you had a great year last year, more will be expected this year! If last year was a struggle, you will need to rebound and get back on track as soon as possible
- Optimism/Positive Outlook – This is the only way to go!
- The first quarter is the key – If you get out of the gate fast, it will set the table for the rest of the year. Don’t you dare drag your feet with the “January blues”; then you will be playing catch up
- Goal Setting – Forget about new year’s resolutions for your territory! Resolutions are made to be broken (just ask the fitness industry!) Right down measurable, achievable goals and track progress throughout the year
- Have fun, keep smiling, and just relax – If you are prepared, eager to learn and stay patient it will all work out!
Have a great day!
I recently posted a question on Paul Castain’s Sales Playbook LinkedIn discussion group about the ”Ideal Sales Management Style”. The responses varied, with the majority concluding that a combination of “hands-on” vs. “hands-off” was the best solution. I agreed with that analysis. I am with my 7th company in 16 years of corporate life, so I have a very good idea how I like to be managed, and how I manage now.
I had no intention of discussing this thread on my blog until I saw the comment below. I received this startling entry from Kevin Dankosky about two weeks ago, and it has really stuck with me. I will abstain from my opinion, rather eagerly anticipating your take on his incredible story!
“Funny this question comes up. I went to visit an old childhood friend for lunch last week and we were talking about his career in health care sales. He is about 15 years my junior. Let me predicate this by saying that I’ve always more of hand-off type of sales manager who is very selective about his hires, trains them well and then treats them like gold – 99% of the time they do a great job.
So we are having a nice lunch and he gets a text message from his boss reminding him (and the other regional sales people) of the daily conference call at 1:00 (it was 12:30 at the time). We are having such a good discussion at lunch we run a little late so at 12:58, while taking me back to the airport, he has to put the conference call on in the car through the radio.
I was shocked, the sales manager has everyone check in .. Joe here, Mary here, Larry here, Curly here .. then the meeting begins. Details on all the main target accounts, timelines on closing deals, number of sales calls made today, number of cold calls made, etc. Fortunately I got to the airport (20 minutes later) before the end of the call.
I was shocked. If I were a sales rep and that occurred on a daily basis, I’d go nuts. In addition to having been a sales manager and sales person, I’m also a coach and teacher. I think it’s up to you as a sales manager to know each person on your sales team and find out what makes them “click”. Some will need more hands on attention while others need just a nudge.
Regardless, if you feel the need to “ride” them each day, you either don’t have confidence in them or you have a power obsession. Again, if you hire the right person, train them well, support them and treat them well, the rest will fall into place. I guess that’s a long way of saying I’m more “hands-off”. – Kevin Dankosky
Oh yeah, if you love sales and business and you are not a member of Paul Castain’s Sales Playbook Linkedin Group, what are you waiting for? Here is the link:
No spam, no personal promotion, 30,000+ members. It is the best place to hang out that I have found and it has changed the way I sell and manage.
All I wanted to do early in my sales career was manage the team that I was working on. I was young, I was new to the industry and I thought I knew it all! I was confident that some day I could handle the role. Unfortunately changes happened within the company, and I turned down my dream Sales Manager role when it was finally offered to me. Even with that setback, I have continued to follow sales and executive management throughout my career.
I did have some experience managing a team before I was ever interested in Sales Management. I was a Branch Manager in the car rental industry straight out of university. It was a great experience, and certainly taught me a lot about managing a diverse group of associates at a young age. Some of the employees were more than ten years my senior, and I learned very quickly how difficult being in charge could be.
The Sales Manager is arguably the most important person within the organization. They have a direct line of communication with the sales force; the associates who drive most of the front line revenue.
It can be very easy to get in to a rut with your day-to-day role. Sales reps certainly do, and it happens to managers as well. It is valuable to take a step back and think outside the box sometimes, from how you typically manage.
Great sales managers use enthusiasm and excitement to their advantage. They celebrate their team’s wins, while proudly announcing personal and team achievements. They may high-five team members in the office, or keep it simple and just pat everyone on the back when there are reasons to celebrate. The positive energy does wonders for everyone.
I have always been keenly aware of my manager’s actions, and I focus on a few areas:
- how they lead the team
- how they treat me
- how they treat other reps
- how they handle adversity within the team
- the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor and others on the executive management team
If they excel in all the above areas, they probably have “it” with their team. “It” is hard to explain, but it can be summarized as the group is firing on all cylinders, and no issue is too great to break the cohesiveness within the group.
I have reported to a total of 16 assistant managers, sales managers and branch managers during my career. I have also had close working relationships with 12-13 executive managers. This has provided me a rich foundation of experiences.
- As a manager what is it like to have “it”with the group of reps that you lead every day?
- If you have “it”, you can probably describe “it” in general terms, but it may be hard to explain overall.
- If you have never had “it” with your team, would you not like to know how to get “it”?
As I continue to discuss Sales Management in the future, I will build on the theme of having “it”. I will leave you with one other thought to ponder….
Are you just a boss to a group of employees, or is their much more depth to your relationship with the team?
One Sales Manager in my career was a cut above the rest. As I think back to our first meeting close to 11 years ago, I realize that it took about 5 seconds for us to click. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not in a business relationship. But I knew right away that I had made the right decision to move and start a new life in Edmonton.
Everything between him and the team worked. There was limited drama in the office, and the focus was always growing the business, and having fun along the way. He never made it feel like he was our boss, more of a team captain. He was a leader who supported us in every way. He was there for us when we succeeded, and when we failed. He assisted in our personal development, and often commented on how lucky he was to have a team like us to support. It was never “below him” to help us with whatever we needed assistance with. He was a manager, but he was more than willing to get “dirty with us in the trenches”.
He was the consummate mentor, and was always thinking about succession plans for those who were interested in moving up within the organization. He was an ear for everyone with respect to business or personal problems.
I had often thought about what would happen to the team if he ever decided to move on. I have to be honest; it worried me a bit, more than it should have. When he finally did move on, as expected, things were never the same again with our sales division.
I called him out of the blue when I was in his city a few months ago and we had a last-minute coffee. Before I knew it, more than an hour had passed. We picked up right where we left off from the last time we saw each other! I had to pinch myself to realize that we were not between sales calls working for the same company anymore. I will always credit him for being the most influential person who assisted in getting my sales career to the next level as quickly as it did.
- Who has been influential in getting you to where you are today?
- What awesome things have they done that really stand out in your mind?
Recently, as I was looking for inspiring quotes on leadership, I found this gem and it resonated with me.
"The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already." ~ John Buchan
On Pushing or Pulling
I had been focusing my efforts on a marketing challenge and was reading a great article that appeared in the
I was debating what I would post for Have A Laugh Fridays this week, and received this as an email yesterday! I think it is a sign that spring is in the air, and the golf clubs will be dusted off soon for all of us that endure long, harsh winters.
Sales and business professionals take a lot of heat for all the golfing that we “apparently do”, so I thought some golf jokes were a great tie in for some laughs this week!
Remember, if you have any videos, pictures, or jokes that you think would be worthy of Have A Laugh Fridays, send me an email at:
Have a great weekend!
When I die, bury me on the golf course so my husband will visit.
I don’t say my golf game is bad, but if I grew tomatoes they’d come up sliced.
I’ve spent most of my life golfing. The rest I’ve just wasted.
They call it golf because all the other four-letter words were taken.
The ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody would put a flag stick on top.
Pete Dye (His golf courses reflect this belief!!!)
Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.
It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.
Golf is a game in which you yell “fore,” shoot six, and write down five.
Give me golf clubs, fresh air & a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.
Have you ever noticed what golf spells backwards?
The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.
Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.
Go play golf. Go to the golf course. Hit the ball. Find the ball. Repeat until the ball is in the hole. Have fun. The end.
If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.
It’s good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.
Don’t play too much golf. Two rounds a day are plenty.
Golf is a game in which one endeavors to control a ball with implements ill adapted for the purpose.
A golfer’s diet: live on greens as much as possible.
Gone golfin’ … be back about dark thirty.
Born to golf. Forced to work.
My body is here, but my mind has already teed off .
Golf and sex are the only things you can enjoy without being good at them.
May thy ball lie in green pastures …. and not in still waters.
If I hit it right, it’s a slice. If I hit it left, it’s a hook. If I hit it straight, it’s a miracle.
The difference in golf and government is that in golf you can’t improve your lie.
Golf is a game invented by the same people who think music comes out of bagpipes. Author Unknown
For those of you who do not already know, I am a hockey fanatic! I have loved the sport since I went to my first NHL game in 1979. I not only watch it on TV and live at arenas; I have played most of my life. Now I am enjoying coaching my 5 year old son as well.
There are many parallels between sports and business, and I absolutely love this training camp speech given by Tom Renney of the Edmonton Oilers to all of the hopefuls in 2011. Take it at face value in the context of sports, but also think specifically about sales, leadership and business in general. I have included the main part of his conversation with the players below:
“What could the obstacles be for our own success?
- If you are not willing to sacrifice
- If you are not willing to put yourself out there
- If you are not willing to lose a bit of yourself in order to make this team better, in order to help all of us win
If your expectations are just to go out and do your best. If you think good enough is good enough, then quite honestly you won’t be here. This is a process now where you are not just sitting on top of the stove, the element has been turned on. There is nothing like winning, and there is nothing like doing something together that nobody thought you could do.
Pay attention to why you are here. This is not just good enough anymore.
You are here to make a statement on behalf of the Edmonton Oilers. If you want to be a champion, take a championship attitude to your game every day, in no matter what you are doing, and we will be fine.
Hold your self accountable, and be ready to go to work.” – Tom Renney, Edmonton Oilers head coach via the Oil Change TV series
I have also seen this phrase in their dressing room several times and just love it,
Doug Gilmour, NHL Hall of Famer, has a saying that I have been thinking about a lot over the past few months,
“A man shows what he is by what he does with what he has”
Being part of any team is a special experience.
Are you performing your assigned role with 100% effort?
If not, time to step up your game!