5 Keys to Managing a Cohesive Sales Team
Even after you’ve built a cohesive sales team, it still requires some dynamic managing to keep it that way. In sports, great teams win championships, but they still need solid coaching. The same goes for sales teams. “Sharpening the saw” on a regular basis is what effective managers do even after they have built solid teams. As always, complacency remains the enemy, and personal growth remains the goal.
Here are some key tips:
1. Practice using “Commander’s Intent”.
It works for the U.S. military under far more serious circumstances, so it ought to work for a sales team. Make sure that every member of your team can describe the mission in two simple sentences or less. We should never expect people to perform at their best if they don’t have a clear idea of what’s expected. That applies to both the group, as well as, the individual. Getting buy-in on a collective sense of purpose encourages teamwork and promotes a group identity. Never underestimate the importance of conveying a clear vision of expectations.
2. Provide both collective and individual feedback to every team member.
Many managers fail to understand that everyone on the team needs to know how they’re performing on a regular basis. So does the team in general. Top performers will demand to know how they’re performing, while the weaker ones may want to avoid the subject altogether. Regardless of a given team member’s stature, the manager must give them honest and constructive feedback on a regular basis. That often requires some “difficult” conversations, but the benefits of doing so are invaluable.
3. Challenge every team member to keep growing.
“No pain no gain” is as true in the gym as it is in the sales arena. Pushing people to get better is what great managers do on a consistent basis. Yes, we applaud people for their current level of ability, and then we help them to take it all to the next level. While it’s obviously true that everyone has a “ceiling”, that still doesn’t diminish or eliminate the importance of getting better at what they do. Time and again, human beings have proven that they can achieve beyond their own expectations if the conditions are right. Great managers provide the challenge and the atmosphere for allowing that to happen!
4. Be confident, but never arrogant.
An effective leader must convey confidence in order to give his/her team a sense of security and stability. But an arrogant manager offends team members, and discourages them from either respecting the leader and/or being loyal. The easiest way to avoid being perceived as arrogant is to focus on the team and minimize use of the word “I” as much as possible. “We” works a lot better. Great managers empathize with their team members, and make a concerted effort to see the issue at hand through their eyes. Team members connect with their manager much more readily when it’s clear that the manager understands their respective point of view. A manager who is distant from his/her team members is usually perceived as arrogant and insensitive—the easiest way to kill a cohesive team.
5. Never underestimate the importance of fun.
Last and certainly not least, we should approach sales as a game and like any other game it ought to be a blend of work and fun. It doesn’t mean that the approach is casual or nonchalant. What it does mean is that the manager celebrates the wins, maintains a sense of humor, and keeps the atmosphere as positive as possible. Sales contests and role-playing sessions are always an injection of fun to keep everybody engaged and energized. The best sales teams know how to work hard and play hard!
About the Author
Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.