Sales Leadership can be a lonely career. Responsible for company revenue goals the role of the Sales Manager is critical. Often sales leaders are promoted from within the four walls of the company. Taking the very best sales professionals and tasking them with sales leadership is far too common. Add to this most companies provide little or no leadership training to their sales leaders it’s no wonder the burn out rate for Sales Managers is so high. Recap: Lots of pressure, no training, and little support.
My first role in sales management was no different. Upon being promoted to the role of District Sales Manager I asked my VP of Sales “What does the training entail?” His response was “Training? There’s no training, just go show them how you did it!” The culture in that organization was one of sales managers who managed the business through the sales reps versus coaching and empowering them to grow. With little place to turn for advice I went about my job as a newly minted sales manager doing it the way I had seen my pervious manager, and many others, do the job. Telling people what to do, or worse, doing the work for them. Eventually falling prey to the “Should ‘a” trap.
It’s easy, as a Sales Manager, to fall victim to the word “Should ‘a”. As in “They should have known better than to…”, or “He should have known how to…”, or “She should have done this…”. As a leader I assumed everyone on my team knew how to sell, what to say, how to negotiate, how to close, how to prospect, and was a subject matter expert. As a result, I grew frustrated when the team didn’t hit quota or growth goals.
The problem with “Should ‘a” is it assumes everyone knows what is expected, and everyone knows what good looks like, and everyone knows, well everything you know. They don’t. Far from it! As a sales leader you are tasked with leading, managing, training and coaching the team. This means providing training, coaching, guidance on everything from product and industry knowledge to sales skills. This is much different than just showing them how you did it when you were in the field.
There’s a difference between being a leader, a manager and a coach, and you need to be all three at different times. Managers rely on reports and KPI’s to lead their people. Using CRM dashboards and call reports to get a handle on what is going on in the field. This can be useful information, but it’s typically a lagging indicator of success or failure and rarely identifies what’s actually happening in the field. Coaches drive change by observing what their sales team is doing in the field and then provide candid and specific feedback combined with training to improve results. Leaders communicate high standards, set clear expectations, invite commitment, and model the behavior they seek.
So, the next time you catch yourself saying “Should’ a” consider asking yourself “Am I being a leader, a coach or just a manager to my team right now?”