August 13, 2010

What Do Salespeople Really Need from their Managers?

Being a sales manager can be challenging. Effectiveness boils down to one question: what do salespeople really need? Compare the following list to your priorities and see if you’re maximizing the selling potential of your team.

Real Sales Support

Recently the head of marketing was talking about how sales wasn’t establishing “value” in the market. Someone spoke up and asked, “Dean, what is our value?” Think about that – neither the marketing department or sales could articulate their value proposition.

  • The reality is that sales people are often as confused as their prospects as to what drives demand for an offering.
  • Sales people must know why customers buy your products and services.
  • They must be able to articulate compelling arguments answering why new customers should buy from them.
  • Sales messages must be consistent and uniform across the entire team.

If your sales team has to ask marketing “what is our value” they will compete on price. Effective support is establishing processes from demand creation to closing arguments. It is providing a well tested sales track for the team to follow. Instead of having to experiment each team member should have the right messages for the right market with the right tools to win.

Genuine Motivation

Your team is working harder than ever and probably having less to show for it. Commission checks are smaller, buyers are more difficult and the rewards of selling are fewer. Better figure out how to motivate and encourage your team before this economy and burn-out ruins them and your numbers.

Motivation by the sales manager is a very intimate relationship with each member of your team. Learn what their challenges and fears are. Then actively coach them to achieve their goals. You must sell your team the dream, you sell the hope and the desire to push forward no matter what. You sell motivation.

Guidance with Measurement

Helpful guidance starts with having goals the salesperson agrees with. Then you, not them, needs to monitor progress towards those goals. Each salesperson must believe they can reach their assigned quotas. Sales managers must

  • Regularly keep salespeople on track
  • Collaborate with your team to find out what is working or not
  • Adjust plans to meet established metrics
  • Identify areas where a salesperson is faltering
  • Actively coach and work with them to get back on track

Facilitate Selling Time

The amount of business won is directly related to the hours spent selling. Brian Carroll pointed out in his book “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale” the average B2B salesperson has to produce $1,000 in business every hour to meet quota. Sales managers must minimize time sucking drains on their team, like unnecessary paperwork. Only require the reports and non-selling activities that are absolutely necessary. Outsource tasks that can be done by less expensive talent. Every hour you free up for your team to be selling means higher sales numbers for everyone.

Think about what your team needs instead of what they want and you’ll find your own set of important factors. When a team falters the first thing that gets replaced is the coach. You can avoid that fate by supplying what the team really needs to meet their numbers and make you look good.

Russ Emrick is a sales coach with almost 30 years of experience. Russ now concentrates on coaching salespeople on how to succeed in the new economy. More information about sales and powerfully managing a sales team can be found at

Russ Emrick

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