So, we’ve ascend from salesperson to sales manager and now we’re managing sales managers. It’s kinda scary. We don’t want to micro-manage, yet we’re ultimately accountable to the growth targets that the Board and/or investors expect to see.
We also don’t want to put our feet up then learn we have to make a massive course correction shortly before the end of the year because we were so disconnected from our sales team.
To avoid feeling like a micro-manager while still supporting our sales managers these two questions, asked weekly, are key to ensuring we stay on pace to reach the targets we committed to.
- How many on your team are red, yellow and green on their proactive activity plan? – a proactive activity plan, in Sandler terms a “cookbook,” is key to an individual salesperson successfully achieving their targets. If our sales manager can’t answer this question, they might be focusing too much on lagging indicators or fluff metrics like “proposals out.”
- Follow up questions – for salespeople who are red or yellow, “what are they doing to get up to yellow or green?” for salespeople who are green, “what are they doing that we could replicate with other team members?”
- What opportunities are moving down funnel or out of funnel this week? – we’d like to have some good news to share with our colleagues on the leadership team, which is one possible answer to “out of the funnel” (closed won), but, more importantly, we want to avoid our funnel getting bloated, which tends to create consequences like discounting or offering free services that we normally would get paid for to move that deal along. If our sales manager’s answer to this question resembles a fish that’s gasping for air out of the water that’s a yellow flag for the hygiene of our funnel and a coaching opportunity for us to that sales manager.
- Follow up question – especially for the opportunities that the sales manager says will be “closed won” this week, “what commitment did the prospect give your salesperson about a clear ‘stop’ or ‘go forward’ at the end of their next meeting?” Expecting to close without defining that outcome in advance is a recipe for heartache and tears for the salesperson and potentially some awkward question from the people we report to.”
Even if the answers our sales manager gives to those question are frustrating, we must avoid stepping into their sales funnel review meetings or individual coaching sessions with their team members or we will kill that manager’s credibility with their team. Doesn’t mean we can’t sit in on a sales funnel review meeting or have a 1:1 coaching session with one of their team, but the latter is best used as a reward for top performers and the latter as our version of a field support visit with both set up in advance with the sales manager.
Creating success through others, which is the core of a management or leadership role, challenges us to give our team members the tools to be successful, the support to implement those tools and the freedom to implement their way while still reaching their individual mountaintops.
Until next time… go lead.