Managers, you better stay sharp!

How long have you been a sales manager?  1 years, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?

Ponder this… Tiger Woods is arguably the best golfer of all time.  He took < 6 months away from the game, and this past weekend tied the worst score he’d ever posted as a professional golfer!  How long have you been “out of the game”? Are your skills sharp?  Can you still make a cold call?  Can you work a deal from start to finish?

Can you run a sales cycle from start to finish at your current company?  Can you prospect and gain interest in your products & services?  If the answer is no, read on…

A typical sales managers role is to hire, train, and retain sales professionals to meet and exceed quota.  It’s great to be able to know how to hire sales pros, how do you train and retain these talented individuals?  A few ideas:

  1. Implement a Sales Certification program.  Build a checklist of things you look for during a sales cycle, and before the rep can “get into territory”, have them pass your sales certification.  This helps you as a manager stay sharp and understand a sales cycle, and helps your team learn from each other.
  2. Join sales calls with your reps. Ask your team to invite you to the call.  Listen.  Bite your tongue when you want to jump into the sales call, and create a forum for providing feedback.  True Sales Professionals are always interested in feedback and if you have value you can add about the process, they want to hear about it!
  3. Ask your team to record their WebEx meetings with prospects. A lot of reps would prefer running the call without micromanagement.  As a manager, you don’t try to micro-manage.  Try having your team record their call, and then listen to it in a conference room on speakers.  You can start/stop and provide coaching.
  4. Teach the sale team how to fish! Run a 10 minute presentation using “worst practices” like show up and throw up, don’t listen, and offer a low price from the get go.  Then have another manager or sales professional present the “to be” and the gold standard for how to ask questions, set competitive landmines, and run a meeting.  Reps will “get it” when they can contrast what is good and what is not good.
  5. Stack rank your pipeline and be involved in your top 10 deals! The 80/20 rules applies in sales management.  Focus on the top 20% of deals, and join the calls, and that will result in 80% of the business.

You made it to your position because you were presumably an excellent sales professional.  Keep up with your skills by focusing on keeping them current, and using some of the practices identified here.  Remember, all it takes is 6 months of inactivity, and your skills can go from “hero to zero”.  Sharpen your saw!