Being a great property sales manager is not easy. Some may think that a great sales manager is someone who is great at sales, but actually that is very far from the truth. A great sales manager comes down to how well you work with your people and help them to make the sales.
I have been under a range of sales managers in my time and most of them didn’t do a great job. Why? For starters many of the sales managers I worked under were hard nosed and domineering. They operated through fear and by placing excessive pressure on sales teams. These managers didn’t show support, or care, for their team members, they didn’t help the teams to succeed.
The issue with many sales managers is that they don’t know how to lead people, or support team members to improve. Great sales management requires leadership and a genuine care for people. Being a great sales manager requires authentic care for people.
In my 5 years as a sales manager I have learnt some critical lessons in how to be a better sales manager. In my early days all I did was demand and insist, and place pressure on sales reps, while dealing with them at arms length. This was a disaster and it did me and them no favours at all. Over the years things have changed a lot and these days I am much more involved and compassionate as a leader. Below are some of the lessons I and other sales managers have learnt through hard won experience. At Shiny Rock Properties I try to show up every day with the following attributes and qualities:
1. Great sales managers embrace change
The most consistent challenge sales managers face is rapid change. Great sales management is about being flexible and adaptable to new changes. A great sales manager is someone who shows level focus when change occurs, and is able to help team members cope. Todays business environment is complex and chaotic due to a range of factors. A great sales manager leads through change and spends time helping team members to adapt. Great sales management is about leading through example, especially when major changes occur. All eyes will be on you to see how you handle yourself.
For most of us change is perceived as a bad thing. A great sales manager is able to empower and motivate sales reps to see the upside, even if pain is also part of it. It is how you help team members to get through the pain and get to the gain that makes you great as a sales manager. This process is generally done through coaching and helping team members to progress.
2. Earn their trust.
Trust is earned not automatic. Being a manager of people does not give you their trust, it gives you the authority to begin building trust. This process begins and ends with how you show up over time as a manager. If you cannot stick to commitments and you change your tune depending on who is in the room you will lose trust fast. The best way to earn genuine trust as a sales manager is to show your team that you have their backs. This is what builds genuine trust fast. A great sales manager stands up for their team and does as much as possible to enable team members to succeed. Sometimes this means defending team members from management or from irate clients. A great sales manager stands with their team first and foremost. If the team feels this and see evidence of it you will be well trusted and appreciated by them. This has a huge impact on their performance.
Managers who are able to admit when they have been wrong, or when they have made a poor decision are great! This is leading by example. Sales managers who can share their own faults and mistakes show sales teams how to do so. This builds an open and trusting culture. By showing you can take responsibility when you are wrong it encourages the same from your team. This leads to problems and mistakes being raised much earlier and it decreases risk. It is critical that you show your team that admitting error, and taking account for it is a key strength.
3. Feedback is life blood for a sales team
Have you ever wondered how you are doing in your job and scratched your head not knowing the answer? Many sales managers are not great at giving feedback or at providing clear direction. Giving constructive feedback is important because without direct and regular feedback performance drops. If sales reps are not clear about their own performance pros and cons then they cannot improve.
A great sales manager is great at giving feedback and asking for it as well. I bet you don’t hear the question ’tell me how I can be a better manager?’ often but this is what a great manager does regularly. By asking for feedback it helps managers to find better ways to be great managers.
Whether it is positive or negative feedback it is vital that you find a constructive way to deliver it well. By creating an open culture of giving and receiving feedback you create learning. The sooner clear feedback is given or received the sooner the issue can be sorted out. This leads to consistent and regular personal development which always positively impacts performance.
4. Build enthusiasm
There is nothing worse than a sales manager who doesn’t inspire and build enthusiasm in the team. A sales environment is often tough and at times, very depressing. It is during these down times especially that inspiration and enthusiasm is needed. Even if the sales numbers are down there are many reasons to find enthusiasm and to use it to bring the team up a notch. Enthusiasm is something that can inspire greater levels of activity and willingness.
A great manager shows enthusiasm for many aspects of their role, and for their team members. This includes being appreciative of peoples character, celebrating small wins, generating positive energy and showing personal attention to your sales reps consistently.
5. Get involved
I am sure you have heard of the term ‘helicopter management’? This is one way to alienate yourself from your team and from the day to day work they do. Great sales managers get involved in the detail and are able to understand the specific challenges a sales rep experiences in their job. This direct awareness and willingness to get involved in the micro detail is a key part of being a great sales leader for your sales reps. It is very difficult to earn respect or credibility if you are not on the balcony of leadership while being on the playing field with the team as well. This is a balance you need to strike.
A manager who tells a sales rep to ‘work harder on that deal’ VS the sales manager who sits down with the sales rep and says ‘let’s look through the situation and discuss how we can make this work’ is the difference between a run of the mill sales manager and a great one.
Be involved and be close to the challenges of your sales reps and be ready to roll up your sleeves and get involved where required.
6. Grow and Develop Your Team
Providing the right kind of personal and skills development for your team is vital. Just sending them on courses and telling them what to do is not effective; this often causes more harm than good. Whatever training courses you send your team on make sure that you engage with the team on what has been learnt. It is important to provide action learning projects, as part of their work, to embed learnings and to provide peer to peer learning opportunities at work; each one teach one is a great way of seeing this concept. Poor managers tell and command without engaging a healthy learning environment.
We provide weekly one on one coaching for all team members which are inquiry driven interactions which help team members to solve their own challenges. Asking the right questions is far more important than telling people what to do; telling is sometimes required as well in certain situations but being able to empower team members to consider their own solutions is far more important.
7. Kaizan – constant improvement
While a manager and a company development strategy can make huge impacts on team perfromance it also comes down to each individual team member to tak responsibility for their own personal development. Effective coaching is the key to supporting each team member in defining their own personal imrovement plan but in the end it comes down to team members take responsibility for their own continuous and evolving improvement.
This mindset is critical for a manager to install and encourage; bearing in mind of course that the sales manager has the same mindset themelves and leads by example.
8. Being brave enough to ask for feedback as a sales manager
I often ask my team how i can serve them better, or how I am not helping them. Hardly any sales managers do this but for those who do it reaps massive rewards. This helps you to evolve and adapt to being more effective in supporting and managing your sales team
These are just some pointers that we at Shiny Rock Properties use to build the best functioning and motivated sales teams. Most importantly we really do care about the people we manage and we show it.