You may have been an A-player salesperson or you still are, but that doesn’t necessarily make you an A-player sales manager. Recognizing the difference is one problem. Mastering the skill sets of sales management is another.
Our guest today is Kevin F. Davis, author of the book The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: Ten Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top and he’s going to teach us what you can do to guide your team to greatness.
Kevin worked his way up in sales until becoming a general manager. He had the opportunity to train and coach about 250 sales people and directly managed sales teams as well as sales managers. He then founded TopLine Leadership, Inc. where they deliver sales coaching and leadership workshops to corporate clients and groups of sales managers in the last 27 years. Kevin has also written two other sales books, Getting Into Your Customer’s Head and Slow Down, Sell Faster!
First off, check out the Summit on Content Marketing on May 22 – June 02, 2017. Joined by over 100 speakers, including me, Donald Kelly) and I will be talking about bots and messengers as an effective avenue to qualify more leads.
Here are the highlights of my conversation with Kevin:
Why Kevin wrote his new book:
- There aren’t that many books specifically on managing salespeople effectively and he saw that void in that marketplace his book could help to resolve.
- He wrote it to solve the most pressing problems sales managers encounter and be able to provide them with the practical set of skills, strategies, and tools they can use to take their team to the top.
- Up to 80% of all sales managers don’t receive the training they need to be successful (either they don’t get any training or the training they get doesn’t solve the specific problems they have)
The number one problem of sales managers: “I don’t have enough time.”
Managers have to read 200 emails and spend two hours or more a day just looking at their computer screens. They are too overwhelmed by all the distractions that they no longer have the time to coach their salespeople.
The Self-Serving Bias
Most salespeople think they’re better than they actually are. We tend to overestimate our capabilities and we underestimate our weaknesses.
Apply this to a sales team and if you have salespeople thinking they’re better than they are and don’t fully appreciate the mistakes they may be making in working opportunities, they would not know they’re making those mistakes and they make more of them.
Unfortunately, salespeople are getting a lot less feedback on what works and what doesn’t. And what managers tend to do is sit back and wait for a sales rep to come to them and ask questions. So keep coaching your people. Don’t sit back and wait. Be proactive and coach them the entire sales process.
“The most salespeople in your team who are the least needy of you are probably the people who need and benefit from your coaching the most.”
Great salespeople don’t make great sales managers.
According to Kevin, a great sales rep who has mastered in their sales role inhibits that individual’s success as a sales manager.
As sellers, we love to take charge of a situation and work it through to have a successful outcome. Whereas, when you move into a sales management role the biases for action and decisiveness can lead us jumping into the conversation of a rep we’re coaching and their client.
This sends a message to everybody that you don’t trust your sales rep. This destroys any opportunity for valuable coaching following that meeting.
“The sales people that report to you are your Number One customers so you should care most about how they’re effective.”
From Being Task-Oriented to People-Oriented
Kevin believes that one attribute of a great sales leader is recognizing the importance of switching from focusing on tasks to teams
Focus on the people side and when you’re involved in projects, reach out and connect with people on a personal basis. Make sure they are with you and what you’re trying to do. Don’t be too task-oriented that you’re forgetting about the people component.
In Kevin’s book, he mentioned the story he read about Beth Comstock, who is currently the vice-chairman at General Electric, which is an example of how important focusing on people versus tasks is which is something she’s still working on up until today.
Understanding the Buying Cycle
Kevin says the sales forecast is a misnomer in that it should be a buying forecast. Understand the customer’s buying process to maximize the sale. How buyers buy is different than how most salespeople sell.
One of the biggest problems in sales is a sales rep selling too fast and moving too quickly. Kevin has tackled this in his book, Slow Down, Sell Faster!
Being “buying process”-focused improves the accuracy of your forecasts and takes the guess work out of sales. Asking better questions is key. What are their buying criteria in order of priority?
Kevin’s Major Takeaway:
Understand that managing and leading salespeople requires a completely different set of skills from selling. There’s a misconception that an A player sales rep will make an A player sales manager. Both jobs are completely different. Therefore, set a goal to become as masterful at sales management leadership as you are selling.
Beth Comstock’s blog post, Best Advice: What I Learned from Jack Welch Hanging Up on Me
Check out the Summit on Content Marketing on May 22 – June 02, 2017. Joined by over 100 speakers, including me, Donald Kelly 🙂 and I will be talking about bots and messengers as an effective avenue to qualify more leads.
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