The 3 Key Habits of Great Sales Managers

Sales management is one of the most difficult jobs out there. Your responsibilities span the organization -- along with the VP or director of sales, you’re working with people in Product, Marketing, HR, and so on.

Most importantly, managers are responsible for the individual and collective success of their salespeople. Rallying reps to hit their quota is no easy task, especially when every team member is motivated by different things.

If you want to succeed in this role, adopt the three key habits of great sales managers.

1) Shadow Your Reps Every Single Day

As a sales manager, you have an infinite number of things you could be doing. However, you should make time to shadow your reps each and every day. Why is this activity critical?

First, you can observe and then pass on best practices. Your top-performing salespeople might not know exactly what they’re doing to be so successful. But since you’re spending time with everyone, you can pick up on common trends and outlier behaviors.

Second, shadowing your reps lets you catch issues immediately -- rather than several weeks or months down the line, when they’re not hitting their number.

Third, you’ll save precious time in pipeline review. You won’t need the same amount of explanation or context as when deals are completely foreign to you.

Fourth, it tells your sales team that your biggest priority is their deals. They’ll reward you with their loyalty, commitment, and respect.

2) ABR (Always Be Recruiting)

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting to recruit until you’ve got an open spot on your team. Usually, you won’t have quota relief -- which means every day that position isn’t filled, you’re falling behind. Many managers end up settling for someone mediocre because they don’t have time to find a great candidate.

To avoid this issue, spend an hour every day recruiting, no matter what your head count is. Go to networking events, ask your contacts for referrals, interview salespeople, add connections on LinkedIn, and so forth. You’ll have a ready pipeline of potential reps when the time comes.

Consistently recruiting also encourages your current salespeople to keep working hard. After all, they’ll know they can be replaced if they stop getting results.

I don’t know a single sales director who wouldn’t hire a superstar even if you’ve got a full roster. If you find someone amazing, you can ask to hire her.

3) Be Obsessive About Your Time

Time management is huge in this role. In fact, many sales managers are specifically trained on managing their time.

If you have an open-door policy, I’d get rid of it immediately. Schedule “office hours” instead: Two 60-minute blocks per week during which anyone can drop by your desk or shoot you an email and get a response.

For separate questions or requests, tell your reps to book time on your calendar. This will free up hours of your schedule. Rather than pestering you with every issue that comes up, your salespeople will only present the most important ones. They’ll figure out the minor questions on their own or wait until office hours.

I also recommend steering clear of Slack and other instant message platforms. These tools enforce LIFO: Last In, First Out. In other words, the most recent message tends to get the first reply. It’s unproductive and unfair.

If you currently use a chat tool, shut it off for one week. Then review how efficient you were. I guarantee you’ll have gotten more done.

Implement these three habits into your sales management routine, and you’ll see the difference in your team’s performance.

Does your team need a boost? Give them the skills they need to transform their approach to selling. Jeff’s public ½ day public workshops will inspire and motivate reps at any career stage. He’ll in Menlo Park, CA on 2/21 when he’ll be exploring prospecting techniques and negotiating and closing tactics.

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