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The Job of a Sales Manager

By Brad Huisken
Posted on February 5, 2008
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The job of sales manager is one of the toughest in retail. Too often a person gets the position simply because he or she was one of the best salespeople. Too many times the sales manager is given the job without any formal training or guidance but is expected to get salespeople to perform.

Many retail jewelry organizations hire salespeople without anyone knowing if they’re actually good at sales. Then no one checks on their progress, and nothing is done to help them improve. From the employee perspective, a salesperson takes a job, reaches a level of competence (or incompetence), and then lets his or her knowledge and education stop.

A sales manager will encounter three basic sales types: underachievers, who account for 10 percent of salespeople; safe-zoners (80 per-cent); and overachievers (10 percent). Each type requires different strategies and techniques from the sales manager, whose responsibility is to move the underachievers to the next level or replace them, increase the productivity of the safe-zoners, and keep the overachievers operating at peak performance.

Your success as a sales manager is measured by the percentage of salespeople who reach their sales goals. If 100 percent reach their goals, you’re an effective sales manager. If 50 percent reach their goals, but your store reaches its goal, you’re missing an opportunity to be a quota buster. If the store isn’t reaching its goal, then you’re not effective. Get all your people hitting or exceeding their individual goals, and the store goal will be shattered.

To fulfill your responsibilities as a sales manager you must provide the leadership, knowledge, training, incentives, and consequences to recruit, hire, develop, and maintain successful salespeople.

Think about what you need to do to accomplish that. Do you know how to handle objections effectively? Do you know how to turn a sale over without seeming pushy and aggressive? Do you understand the biggest deterrent to an effective T.O. program is the ego of the salespeople? What does it take to be an exceptional leader? Do you provide on-the-spot coaching and positive reinforcement?

Your company and your people are looking to you for leadership. You are expected to have the answers to the questions. The only way for you to answer the questions successfully is to have the knowledge yourself and to have walked in their shoes.

More on this next month.

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