As you ascend to a position in sales management, if there is one thing new or young sales managers should know is simply this: you work for the sales department, not vice-versa. That’s right, your job is to work for them—not have them work for you.
I hate to break it to you, but they can function without you—maybe not as well or as efficient, but they can make it. But, you cannot make it without them. I personally have no problem telling a group of salespeople I’m managing, “My job is to work for you, not have you work for me.”
That’s not only a show of respect, but it will set the stage for how you want to run your department and treat your people. While I firmly believe this statement and mindset is crucial to your success you must understand exactly what it means: you come to work each day asking how you can help them, not how they can help you. It’s as simple as that.
You run a bottom-up organization, not a top-down one. That’s being a leader. That’s sales management.
Do they need you to help close a deal? Do they need you to place a phone call from a higher authority? What is it each of them needs from you? You’re there to make them successful and many times that means simply assisting them overcome some obstacle in the sales process.
How can you do something today to make each member of your sales team stronger and better?
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Your job is to make every salesperson better. And without oversimplifying this, the easiest way for you to grow the sales of your company is to help each individual salesperson increase their sales. It’s almost impossible for one person alone to move the needle very much on an organization’s sales. However, if you can get the entire team to grow their business by just 10% each, you’ve greatly impacted your company’s sales and bottom line. By attacking your job with a “how can I help them?” attitude, you will find yourself with the opportunities to make a difference for each person whether they are a million dollar producer or someone who is barely making their quota. Each person needs and deserves your leadership and management.
Begin your day, your week and your month by asking yourself what you can do to help each of your people grow their sales. Once you begin to lead in this manner, manage in this manner and perform in this manner you’ll be amazed at the results. You cannot demand people follow you as their leader. However, you can create an atmosphere and environment where others want to follow you because of how you lead.
Finally, you are the head of your department and you must make decisions as such. The mindset of working for the sales team doesn’t mean you let the inmates run the asylum. You’re in control, you’re in charge—you just accomplish that by pulling rather than pushing.
So, remember while you may be in sales management—you really work for the sale team. Make each of them better. To do this you must be a trainer, a coach, a mentor, a counselor and sometimes simply a place for them to vent.
Guess what? That’s part of the gig.
If you’ll take this approach you’ll not only have a more successful sales team, but one who works together and respects you as their manager.
Butch Bellah works with salespeople and businesses to help them gain more appointments, win more business, retain more customers. Pre-order his latest book, Sales Management For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons) due next month.
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