Have you ever considered what made you successful when you were a salesperson? You were, and still likely are, action-oriented, decisive, and adept at problem solving. These sales attributes were rewarded as a salesperson – and then you got promoted and everything changed. Except – perhaps – you.
Now I ask you to consider – are the same keen sales attributes which made you a successful salesperson creating a stumbling block to effective sales management?
As a sales manager, if you are still action-oriented, decisive and adept at problem-solving – are you jumping in to “rescue” your salespeople and help them close the deal? Does it really help your salespeople when you jump in? Because of your problem-solving ability, are your salespeople bringing you more of their problems, problems which they can and should be solving themselves?
Way back in 451BC Confucius said, “What I hear I forget, what I see I may remember, but what I do I understand.” When you jump in and take over, and solve other people’s problems, you also eliminate the “doing” part. You eliminate the learning and development experience for your salespeople. Then, guess what – you get more of other people’s problems to solve, and more deals to try and save at the last-minute.
What matters is not how effective your salespeople are when you are busy “carrying their load.” Instead, what should matter is how strong their skill to sell and will to sell are when you are not working with them. Your goal should be to build more independence, but that independence should be earned through a sales rep’s commitment to development. And you need to enable this development continuously.
The leadership mindset for effective sales management is to become an observer. Stop doing and start leading. Stop solving everybody’s problems! Re-train and re-strain your “inner-salesperson.” Instead of jumping in and taking over, sit back and watch your people perform. Observation is the first step in the coaching process. How can we be effective sales coaches if we don’t first observe?