Sales Managers: It's Time to Hit the Refresh Button
Standing still in a time of rapid change is not a formula for continued success. Leading a team in the digital age requires that the leader be the model when it comes to accepting change, embracing it, and using it to his or her own advantage. Being stagnant and refusing to upgrade one’s skills and abilities sends the wrong message to the team, and jeopardizes the manager’s chances of remaining relevant and effective.
Here are four tips to help you stay refreshed:
1. Always be curious.
Even if you’re not blessed with a natural sense of curiosity, develop one! Being hungry to learn more about anything relevant to your profession is absolutely critical. Modern information technology gives almost anyone easy access to tons of material that will help grow themselves and the team that they are leading.
Searching out new and useful information should be a routine activity, and not something left over for “when time permits.” It is integral to ensuring that you stay fresh and sharp as a leader.
2. Don’t live in a comfort zone.
Too many sales managers think that way once they’ve arrived and that the hard part was making it from salesperson to sales manager. Nothing could be further from the truth. A sales manager’s job contains many different challenges. Given that truth, how can it be a “comfortable” position?
Delegating responsibilities to team members doesn’t mean that the manager has shed the ultimate responsibility—which is making sure that the team is successful by the established metrics. Taking “comfort” in the simple fact that “someone else” is doing the work misses the point of what managers should be doing. Stay “uncomfortable” and you will be far more productive.
3. Walk a mile (or two) in your team’s shoes.
Managers should actually take on the roles of their subordinates from time to time—this gives the manager a bird’s eye view of what team members are experiencing and what they need to be more successful. This is true empathy in action! It also yields profound respect from the team members.
Managers gain lots of insight from a first person point of view. And it doesn’t compromise the manager’s status with the team to “get down in the trenches”—in fact it does just the opposite. Guaranteed that any manager who tries this will benefit greatly from the effort!
4. Ask for feedback on your performance.
When Ed Koch was mayor of New York City, he famously asked lots of “ordinary” people, “So how am I doing?” It was an exercise that served him well and enhanced his popularity and credibility with his constituents.
Managers should also ask their team members that same question with the expectation of honest and frank answers that do not jeopardize job security or that staff member’s stature. Not every team member will be candid, but those that are will offer incredibly valuable and useful information to the manager. We all have “blind spots” and this is the best way to see what we’ve been missing and earn some trust and credibility with team members in the process.
Staying fresh definitely takes effort but it’s simply worth it. If a manager feels that the team is getting stale, the first place to look for a remedy is in the mirror! The only way to win in a changing environment is to change yourself first.
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.