Sales Manager—Business Manager Or Coach?
The responsibilities of a sales manager are very broad. Frontline managers have to work to make sure each person on the team is performing at the highest levels possible. They have to provide the coaching, training, systems, processes, tools, and support to enable their people to achieve their goals.
At the same time, there’s the “business management” aspect of the job: Are we going to make our numbers? Are we managing our budgets effectively? What’s the forecast? How do we improve effectiveness and efficiency? What are risks and threats we face in competing, what must we do to overcome them? There are endless reports, analysis, and internal meetings that consume as much time as you allow them to consume (often more). There are strategy discussions, meetings with other functions, meetings to plan meetings, and the list goes on and on.
Too many sales managers spend too much time focusing on the business management aspects of their jobs. They are consumed by organizationally imposed bureaucracy or self imposed “hiding out.”
No amount of analysis, reporting, internal meetings helps us in really driving the performance of the organizations we lead.
Yes, we can leverage these things to identify performance challenges, issues the organization faces, potential opportunities or problems. But identifying these is meaningless unless we take action.
Too often, we forget, the core of the manager’s job is to get things done through our people. The only way we, as managers, can take action is through coaching and developing our people.
We cannot achieve our goals or make the numbers unless our people achieve their goals and are performing at the highest levels possible.
As a result, the highest payoff activity is working with our people–every day. Helping them develop stronger capability. Helping them grow to execute more sharply. Helping them learn how to maximize the impact and effectiveness in their territories. Helping them with challenging opportunities or customer situations–not by taking away the responsibility, but by developing and executing creative strategies.
The time we spend coaching and working with our people has far greater impact on business results than the time we spend analyzing, reporting, and meeting on those results.
Our reports may tell us our sales people aren’t effective in prospecting. Telling our people to do more doesn’t address the problem they have with prospecting. We have to get engaged and help them learn what effective prospecting is.
Our reports may tell us our people don’t have sufficient win rates. Telling them to develop sharper strategies, to be more competitive, doesn’t solve the problem. Working with our people, helping them understand the customer, helping them leverage the sales process, helping them learn how to develop and execute winning sales strategies produces better win rates.
I can go on, but you get the point.
Our job is to make the numbers and achieve our goals. The ONLY way we do this is if our people are making their numbers and achieving their goals. Our people don’t maximize their performance by themselves, but through the active day to day coaching and engagement from great managers.
As managers, we have the responsibility for managing the business. But the only way we fulfill that responsibility is through the performance of our people.
Are you stuck behind, or hiding behind a desk? You can’t make anything happen from there.
Get out, roll up your sleeves, work with your people!
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