Interview with a Successful Sales Manager: Moving at the Speed of Success!
1. Why have you been such a successful Salesperson and how will that help you become a successful manager?
I have been both a successful salesman and manager because of several skills. First, I take great pride in my job and work to improve myself through professional and peer development. As an employee my success was based on my ability to listen to the prospective customers and probe deeper into concerns. This enabled me to uncover obstacles and suggest solutions to these obstacles so that the prospective customers could choose a solution that suited their needs. In addition to skill,my work ethic has helped considerably in helping me become a successful salesman and manager. For example, showing up early for work helped me get my leads and call backs set up which saved me time (A good start leads to a good day). As a Manager at two different companies I have had to learn how to adapt to different learning styles and personalities. Learning that not every employee is the same gave me the patience to treat team members as individuals and tailor my training strategies to them during weekly One on one’s. In conclusion, I feel that the greatest contributor to my success has been my sincere drive to reach every person I can and to provide them with the service that they deserve.
2. How would you earn the respect of your team?
To earn respect you have to show respect. I always meet one on one with all my team members and talked with them about their interests. Since I love diversity and enjoy hearing different perspectives this is my favorite part of management. This could also explain why one of my degrees is in Psychology. Second, I would set up proper expectations based on the policies of the company. These have to be clearly defined and if necessary documented by the manager. Thirdly, although many managers in my experience rarely do it, I like to get on my employees phones and pull applications. I learned in my service in my infantry unit in the U.S. Marine Corps that a leader who asks his people to do something that he is not willing to do lacks integrity; in turn this will lose him respect as well. I do what I say and I say what I do. I do not promise employees things that I cannot deliver on. Lastly, I value fun in the work place. We spend at least 8 hours a day together. That is more than I spend with my children. I believe in making a fun cohesive team. My goal is to make my team want to work hard, and want to come to work, not to fear me.
3. How will you ensure that everyone on your team is focusing on the “right” activities? What are those “right” activities?
I believe that if you teach a man to fish, you never have to feed him again. Unfortunately, this is only true of a small percentage of sales people. Just when you think your team is running by itself it crashes. The “right” activities are simple to define. #1 Attendance – You have to show up to win. #2 Activity- Your phone won’t dial itself. #3 Positive Attitude – No prospect wants to talk to a negative person. #4 Listen, Listen, Listen! – They can tell when you don’t care. Listening is the best way to build rapport and show the prospective customer that you care. Tools that can be used to monitor these activities are y-connects, silent monitoring, phone reports etc. In addition, once it has been determined that an employee is not taking responsibility for his/her performance and attitude it may be necessary to follow up with disciplinary action. This is a last resort.
Of course, there are reports. As well as being able to manage personalities I amvery analytical and save all my reports. These usually consist of dials, talk-time, presentation time, applications per week, sales per pay period etc. Different companies have different reports. However, I feel it is important to not get stuck in front of one’s computer checking stats all day, this activity should take up a minimum amount of time to provide the maximum effect. Sharing these reports and explaining their meaning will contribute to the goal of getting employee buy in. A lot of stress that an employee feels can be relieved by understanding why their manager tracks certain aspects of performance. Teaching your sales people why the “right” activities are “right” shows them you respect them. I don’t believe in the “Because I said so” approach, I have found it to be a very ineffective approach to motivate employees.
4. Describe a day in the life of a sales manager.
First, my day starts out with a “pump up session” with my team. I usually congratulate those that had a great day prior. Also, we will work on one skill. My last pump up skill session was “Keeping them on the phone”. These are fun and educational. Anyone who has worked as a sales manager knows that all days are different. I found that the less I spent in front of reports and on email the better. I came to realize that 95% of all my email is not urgent, and most is not important. The more time I spent coaching at an individual level the better my team performed. It is a balancing act of meetings, reports, coaching and disciplinary action. There really is no “Typical day in the life” of a sales manager. In brief, a day in the life of a sales manager is coaching and inspiring your team, following up to ensure practical application of these skills and holding them accountable. If you can do that effectively in a day you are on track.