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Friday Poll: The Most Valuable Thing a Manager Does for the Team

    • 1263 posts
    May 2, 2019 11:52 PM PDT

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    With this week's poll question, we'd like to continue the discussion that was started last week on whether or not a seasoned sales staff needs a sales manager. Thanks to all who weighed in!

    This week we'd like to know:

    What do you consider to be the one most important thing the sales manager does for salespeople?

    Looking forward to reading your replies!

    • 1048 posts
    May 3, 2019 10:18 AM PDT

    A good sales manager is invested in the growth of his salespeople and provides the appropriate resources—including training and regular identification of opportunities—for sustainable growth. This would include help identifying and eliminating impediments to growth, both for the individual salesperson and the sales team as a whole.


    This post was edited by Rod Schwartz at May 3, 2019 12:47 PM PDT
    • 269 posts
    May 3, 2019 3:20 PM PDT

    I touched on this in my previous answer, but let me expand.

     

    First... I work with some good sales managers and I have worked with some sales managers who never should have been made a sales manager.  One example of the latter is a gentleman from a station I worked with in the late 70's.  I once asked him about being the sales manager.  He told me he hated it.  Why?  Because not only did he have to farm a team of salespeople and train new people, but he was also responsible for 60% of the company billing.  So I asked why he took the job.  He told me that if he didn't take it, they would hire someone else to run the sales department and he would be at their mercy.

    My beliefs about sales managers run contrary to many operations I work with.  You see, I believe that a sales manager should hold NO list.  Let me repeat that.  The Sales Manager should hold NO list.  No local direct accounts. No "agency" accounts.  No regional accounts and no national accounts.  Okay, right about here I lost about 60% of the owners and managers who are sure that I know nothing about running a sales department.  Hey, maybe I don't.  But I have had some success in this area.  Second.. the sales manager compensation is tied 100% to the stations' income.  Third:  Having a sales manager set income goals leads to sandbagging.  How many times have you negotiated sales with the sales manager and then after getting beaten down on the next quarter's expectations you find that you are paying EXTRAS for going OVER budget?  I worked with a great broadcaster for over a quarter of a century.  His name is Rick Murphy.  Rick told me about when he worked at Eastman Kodak and how going OVER on sales caused problems.  You see, everything there including labor and supplies was based upon the projections made for the year.  Going over caused problems.  The same SHOULD be said of the radio stations.  Inventory needs to be priced based upon expected demand.  Going OVER causes problems.  Rather it should be estimated correctly.  This is why the GM should set revenue expectations.  Right now with unemployment so incredibly low, if a radio company is not projecting double-digit growth, they need to sell the licenses and move on.  But I digress.

    So what should the sales manager be doing?  First and foremost, communicating and living the core values of the company.  There are some out there who believe the customer comes first. I disagree.  The EMPLOYEE comes first.  When you have HAPPY employees, you have people who WANT to do what's hard and want to keep getting better.  The first time a sales manager puts down or berates a salesperson, someone THEY advocated hiring.. they are no longer a sales manager.  They are just the person holding the whip.

    A sales manager needs to know what a good sales candidate looks like.  Back in the day (possibly sexist remark coming here, but remember, we all were not so "PC" a decade ago) I would look for a woman over 40 who was recently divorced or wanted to be.  Does this mean I would not hire men?  No.  Did it mean I would not hire people older or younger?  NO.  Did it mean I would not hire happily married or single people?  NO!!!  BUT, the 40-year-old woman who was recently divorced or wanted to be had a good deal of the motivation I was looking for.  this may be someone who has spent the last 20 or so years raising kids or working a job they didn't like because they had a family to take care of too.  They had LIFE SKILLS and knew how to talk to people and to learn.  But most of all they WANTED to take control of the next part of their lives.  I am not saying that these are the people to hire.  I am saying that when I was doing this, I knew what kind of people I wanted to have working with me.  

    A sales manager needs to be well read.  If I were hiring someone today I would see what books are in their library.  "Show me your Kindle" might be something I would say (if the clowns in HR and my insurance company agreed that I could make this request without crushing some named or assumed right).  Have they read the OLD stuff like Acres of Diamonds.  Can they quote anything from Zig?  (If they tell me Tony Robbins is their guiding light, I am done with them).  What magazines are they reading (yes you can get Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, Consumerist and other top magazines on your Kindle too).  I'd ask the person to tell me the name of the City Manager and the County Treasurer.  I want to make sure they already know how to figure out sales tax revenue for the area and be able to obtain all of the breakouts.  I would expect that this person knows how to navigate the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census site.  After all of that, I would expect that they would KNOW the top 10 objections we get in this business and be able to recite the way to handle each, on command.  I would expect that a sales manager should know a good elevator speech and an executive summary and have a Cold Call Script in his/her head AND have them pick up a phone in front of me and cold call a business and get an appointment.

    This, however, is not enough.  I expect that they can now TEACH all of this to every person they bring on.  The people working with the sales manager should know everything the sales manager knows.  So.. the sales manager is a teacher.  I would expect that the sales manager IS the best closer in the company.  Ah, you think you got me there.  Back in the beginning "didn't you say...".  No.  I said the Sales Manager did not carry a LIST.  BUT the sales manager needs to be on closing calls EVERY DAY.  I believe that the rep makes the first impression, does the research, writes the spec ad, gets a schedule together, does an ROI calculation and has three spec ads produced.  They then review this with a sales manager who goes on the call to close the call.  Now the sales manager can never say "why didn't you close that business?"  Because the sales manager is the one who is responsible for doing just that.

    By now I have lost all but about 5 of you.  Some people are just scan-reading this because they know what they are doing and it has always been done these ways....  Fine.  But I was asked by Rod to chime in.  So I wrote this as if I were going to walk into a radio station on Monday of next week and get the sales department going.  THIS is exactly what I do when I walk into a station that I am consulting.  Some get it, do it and thrive.  Others fire me at the end of the second month because there are "no results".  So be it.  This is just my opinion and it worked for me.

     

    • 105 posts
    May 5, 2019 7:59 AM PDT

    The ONE Thing a sales manager does for his team/staff is...

     

    Support them.

     

    This comes in various forms including:

    1. Organization.  Setting rate guidelines, determining account list rules, etc.  All the stuff that keeps the sales side of the business organized and in sync.

    2. Coaching.  Each salesperson has different personalities and that includes different strengths and motivational factors.  The best manager I have worked for understands this and has the best sales team I've ever been a part of.

    3. Buffer. There are times when there are potential conflicts internally.  It could be between two sales people, or sales and programming or even a consultant and the sales department.  My sales manager handles stuff that I don't even know about at the time so I can go out and do my job.

    4. Training.  Depending on the staff, some need more training than others.  Good Sales Managers help their team get the additional training needed to be the best versions of themselves.

    5. Feedback.  We want to hear the successes and the struggles.  We want to celebrate and encourage each other.  Our sales team manager makes this possible in our team sales meetings and in our individual meetings.