Principles of Sales Management, Part 1

Last month we discussed my philosophy of sales management. This month we get more specific and look at the first eight of 16 principles of sales management. Next month we’ll examine the other eight.

1. Manage your people individually. To be a successful sales manager, you cannot manage your people in groups. It’s appropriate to give praise in a group environment, and I encourage you to do so. But whenever you’re training, giving constructive criticism, taking disciplinary action, or providing a coaching session, do it one-on-one, privately.

2. Lead by example. Your people look to you to provide a positive example. Managers who follow the “Do as I say, not as I do” maxim will lose the respect of their staffs. You must follow all the policies, procedures, and standards of your company. In fact, a successful sales manager has higher standards and stricter policies than the company requires. To be a leader, you must have self-discipline.

3. Instill discipline in your organization. People want to live and work in an environment that has justified rules and regulations. Could you imagine living in a society without laws or an entity to enforce them? You must know the reasons and justifications for the rules and regulations, be able to explain them, be willing to enforce them and take the disciplinary actions necessary to maintain them, and have them written down. Remember, if it isn’t written down, it isn’t real!

4. Follow the golden rule of sales management. Treat others as you want to be treated. Everyone wants and needs to be treated with respect. If you treat people like children, you’ll have children working for you. If you treat people as adults, you’ll have adults working for you. You want a professional, mature staff, so treat them as mature human beings. The days of managing by fear, intimidation, and penalties are long gone.

5. Manage on objective information. When salespeople despise their sales managers, it’s usually because the sales manager does his or her job based on opinion rather than objective information. Everyone is entitled to opinions, but they have no place in sales management. Your coaching, training, and discipline must be based on fact, and performance statistics must be objective. People will improve what you inspect, not what you expect.

6. Be goal oriented. As a sales manager, you have to establish goals and insist on achieving them. In many cases, the only thing you have in common with your salespeople is the quest to achieve goals. Through talking about numbers and goals, you’ll be able to instill and maintain a goal-oriented operation, and your people will know that hitting the goals and targets is the primary purpose of being in business.

7. Get on the floor. You can’t be effective from behind a desk. The only way to be an effective sales manager is to be involved in the sales process. In a store situation, you have to be on the floor listening in on your salespeople’s presentations. It’s the only way to know precisely how to help them.

8. Be direct and to the point. When giving your salespeople coaching or training, it’s essential to be straightforward. It’s easy for your people to become confused or misunderstand what you’re saying if you beat around the bush. People need to know exactly where they stand. Through your direct, clear, and concise conversations, they will get the message you’re conveying to them.