LEADERSHIP SERIES: Research suggests that Sales Leadership is the difference maker between good performance and superior performance. And how sales leaders embrace five essential roles is critical to the success of their teams. We hope you find this series of short informal discussions around sales leadership useful and thought-provoking.
SALES Manager, Sales MANAGER, or SALES LEADER : Which One Are You?
When it comes down to it, a lot of sales managers struggle because they face something of an identity crisis every day. It feels like there are just too many parts of their job to handle, and so they ending focusing their time and attention on the wrong things.
Many supervisors we meet are working as sales managers, in every sense of the phrase. For these men and women, it’s their team’s revenue numbers that matter… and little else. They spend their weeks constantly thinking about numbers, new accounts, and profit margins. When they get the chance to talk to team members, their questions always revolve around which orders are going to close, or where next quarter’s numbers are going to come from.
There’s nothing wrong with paying attention the figures that matter – we all know your CEO and VP will – but the manager who looks only at finished sales is missing the big picture. The sales your team is making today only tell part of the story; building client relationships, providing excellent service, and developing your staff are all just as important over the long term.
And then there are the sales managers. This group is easy to spot, because their attention rarely wavers from schedules, timing, and administrative duties that make up such a big part of their days. They have become so inundated with paperwork and problems, that they have trouble seeing the forest for the trees. Neither sales stars nor leaders, they have become “middle managers” in the worst way; micro-managing their teams at every step, but accomplishing little in the way of long term territory growth, or furthering the company’s biggest plans.
And finally, there are the sales leaders. These are the professionals that handle their management duties and keep an eye on the numbers, but see their role as something that’s so much bigger. Rather than managing their team members, or focusing on quotas and budgets every few weeks, they take an active role in their department, inspiring, motivating, and coaching their producers to a level that they wouldn’t have thought possible.
They are able to do this because they clearly understand the different hats they have to wear – they need to be part business manager, coach, recruiter, trainer, and leader – and commit themselves to mastering each of them. That’s because, if they become deficient in any of these areas, they’ll always fall short over time.
Managing sales, and being a good manager, are important to think about. To really make something happen in your career and department, however, you have to learn to rise above those roles and become a true sales leader.
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