It can be challenging to manage sales people if you’re not really a “sales person” yourself. One of the challenges for business owners is figuring out how to lead and motivate sales people if your daily responsibilities do not normally involve selling, or if you built the business without having a background in sales. Many entrepreneurs have great strengths for setting a vision and building a business, but they are not natural sales people, and you might find yourself wondering how to draw the boundaries between your responsibilities and your sales team’s responsibilities.
Whether you’re a sales manager or a business owner who employs a team of sales people, many sales leaders struggle to strike the right balance between being a “hands on” manager and staying out of your sales people’s way when needed. Ideally, you need to learn how to support your sales team while still knowing how to let your team do their job so you can do yours.
This article highlights five sales management concepts that every business owner needs to be aware of so you can step out of the way and let those sales people you hired rise to their potential.
Your sales people are on the phones everyday and they will often have the best insight into which sales leads are highest priority and which ones are most likely to close. By all means, share with your team any intelligence you have picked up regarding prospects, but let them own this essential part of their work. No system of lead qualification clearly established in your company? Start one today. Make it simple, easy for anyone to adopt, and effective at sorting the urgent prospects from the longer-term sales leads.
If a sales person has done the hard work of qualifying a lead and making cold calls, give them the satisfaction of making that first presentation in front of the customer. The sales manager as sidekick in this meeting may be the right fit, depending on the size of the prospective deal, but if you defer to your sales people’s judgment and expertise, it will show your competency as a business by demonstrating to your clients that your sales staff are capable leaders in their own right.
Relationship building within the client organization
There are often multiple stakeholders within the client's company that need to weigh in before a sales decision is made. It is fine to help your sales people navigate these relationships, but step back and let your sales people do the heavy lifting - especially if they will be the ones to manage the new account. Give the client a realistic expectation of who they will be working with and let your sales people spread their wings.
Closing the sale
Sales people won't learn to close deals unless you stay out of their way – by all means, support them and offer advice, but show your sales people that it's "their" sale to make. If needed, emphasize the power of “less is more” in the sale close. Keep it simple, avoid information overload, and let the customer talk.
The best sales teams learn from and replicate the best practices of their best performing sales people. Your job as the business owner or sales manager is not to "know everything," but to facilitate successful teamwork and help your people learn from each other. So what should a sales leader do? Teach, coach, mentor, advise - but don't feel like you have to micromanage or step in to close every deal. Your job is to keep inspiring your team and keep assisting them along the way - but let the process happen and let your sales people learn as they go.
Many business owners are rightfully proud of what they’ve built and want to have an active role in building relationships with new customers. But if you want your business to grow to the next level, you’ll have to learn how to “let go” of some of these sales responsibilities. Let your sales team handle these five areas. Your role is to help them be successful in managing these areas of responsibility, while you focus on the bigger strategic questions facing the business. If you put a good sales process in place and train your sales people to replicate each other’s best practices, your sales team will develop into an efficient selling machine.