I am a huge fan of Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It is a terrific book filled with wisdom and timeless principles.
And I just finished reading James Clear’s wildly successful book, Atomic Habits. Another great read which teaches people easy ways to build good habits.
The common word in both book titles: Habits.
Good habits matter.
The most successful—and happy—people in business have mastered good habits that ensure success. This includes sales managers. Habits such as:
#1. ABR. Successful sales managers make it a habit to ABR: Always be recruiting. The ABR sales manager recognizes that consistently prospecting for top talent ensure a full people pipeline. This eliminates the desperation of hiring or settling for good enough because you have a position that needs to be filled.
#2. Learning sales cultures. Successful sales managers make learning a habit in their organizations. They understand that business is constantly changing. Customer demands change, new lines of business need to be sold, new vertical opened.
If you do not have a sales organization that has an aptitude and hungry attitude for learning, you will soon be managing sales dinosaurs not salespeople.
#3. Feedback sales cultures. Knowledge is great, however, without feedback, a salesperson may not be applying new skills in the right way. Salespeople are human and human beings have blind spots.
Successful sales managers create sales organizations that embrace the habit of well-intended feedback. They teach and remind their sellers to take the feedback on their role performance, not their self-worth. The remind their salespeople not to confuse what they DO in life with WHO they are.
#4. Customized coaching. Successful sales managers recognize their sales team consist of unique individuals. One-size-fits all coaching is easy.
But it does not work.
One salesperson needs the sandwich method of feedback where they hear what they are doing well before they hear feedback on areas of improvement.
Another salesperson despises the sandwich method of feedback. They do not like the dancing around the performance issue. Just give it to me straight.
A younger, new seller may need more coaching on confidence.
A veteran salesperson may need more help on time management because they are carrying a big book of business and balancing taking care of kids and aging parents.
Effective sales managers customize their coaching conversations.
#5. Teach soft skills and hard skills. Effective sales managers make it a habit to provide 100 percent of the skills needed to be successful in life and sales.
They know that salespeople need to master the hard skills of selling, the consultative selling skills.
They also recognize that salespeople need to master the soft skills of sales, emotional intelligence skills such as empathy, delayed gratification, and assertiveness.
Successful sales managers make sure their sales team is not trying to win and retain business with only 50 percent of the necessary skills.
#6. Present and Empathetic. Sales managers are busy people, very busy people. Effective sales managers are self-aware. In the busyness of work, they make a concerted effort to be present.
They apply the EQ skill of empathy by paying close attention to both the verbal and non-verbal conversation, tuning into the salesperson’s emotional state.
When a top performing salesperson misses quota for the quarter, they do not simply say, “You’ll hit the number next quarter.” Instead, they demonstrate empathy and state what the salesperson is thinking and feeling. “I know you’re disappointed because you’ve been working really hard. And you had no idea new decision makers were coming into your largest prospect deals at the eleventh hour and stalling the deals.”
#7. I would like to hear from you!
What habits have you observed in extraordinarily successful sales managers?