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WINNING, Incorporated | Boston, Massachusetts

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Part of your responsibility as sales manager is to help your sales team increase their capacity to perform and improve the outcomes of their performance. In other words, help them become better salespeople. To that end, you conduct regular sales meetings to hold them accountable, you provide coaching to keep them on track, and your provide training when needed.

What do you do to improve the outcomes of your performance when you're conducting those sales meetings, providing the coaching, and delivering the training? In other words, what do you do to become a better sales manager? Most sales managers would answer, "Not much."

So what can you do to improve your performance and be a better manager, mentor, and motivator? Here are six suggestions:

1. Analyze Your Attitude

How you approach your work not only reveals how you feel about your job, but it also establishes a baseline outlook from which your salespeople develop their attitudes about work and, ultimately, their work ethic. Are you enthusiastic, or do you view your work as an imposition? When facing challenges, do you look for, and find, possibilities, or do you only point out limitations to overcome? It's difficult for your people to perform at their best and go the extra distance when they perceive that your only goal is to get through another day. 

2. Adapt Your Behavior

You and each of your sales team members have a unique personality - a unique preference for interacting with others, looking at things, analyzing data, and making decisions. Each team member has different strengths he or she brings to the job. You need to recognize - and appreciate - those differences, and adjust your patterns of interaction so those differences become building blocks to communication, cooperation, and productivity...rather than roadblocks.

3. Acknowledge Your Limitations

Your primary function as manager is to guide your people to perform at their best; not be a "know-it-all" who tells them what to do, when and how to do it. Let your salespeople know that you don't have all the answers (even if you think you do). Include them in the process when you're setting goals, developing strategies, and addressing challenges. Encourage them to offer ideas and input. Their participation gives them greater ownership in the processes and eventual outcomes, and provides additional motivation to perform.

4. Delegate Responsibilities

Most likely, there are some routine activities you regularly perform that can be assigned to sales team members. Delegating responsibilities not only frees up your time to invest in more pressing activities, but it also gives your team members greater ownership in the efficient functioning of the department...which encourages them to perform at their best. Delegating responsibilities facilitates your team members' personal and professional growth.

5. Be a Resource

When you delegate responsibilities and encourage your salespeople to provide input about goals and projects, you must be available to listen to them, answer their questions, and provide guidance when needed. Let your people know that they can come to you whenever necessary to discuss relevant issues. And when they do, pay attention. Really pay attention. Encouraging interaction and then not paying attention is worse than not encouraging the interaction in the first place.

6. Follow Up

When you enable your sales team to more fully engage in department operations, it is imperative that you follow up. Let them know how they're doing; give them timely feedback. Doing so enables you to manage their activities in "real time" (rather than after the fact), keep them on track, and correct mistakes more quickly.

Use these six suggestions to examine your attitudes and actions. You are sure to find new ways of interacting with your salespeople - ways that will help them improve their performance.


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