Gail Kasper, Author, Television Host, Certified Fitness Trainer, and Motivational Speaker
Making the move from sales representative to sales manager isn’t an easy one. Top producers must shift from individual interest to team interest, and though they may be personally motivated to achieve, they must come to terms with the fact that not all sales representatives have the strengths necessary to run a sales team. They must be able to make the transition from peer to leader. As a sales representative they may know what they need to do to be successful, but as a manager, they may not be able to translate specific objectives to the team.
Thus the challenge ensues. The ego-driven high-producing sales person must now humble him or herself, and be a willing participant to training. Whether you’re a new sales manager to an organization, or you are making the transition from sales representative to sales manager, there are certain disciplines that must be followed.
1. Be a visionary. Talk to upper management and assess the goals of the department. What are the expectations of each individual sales representative that is reporting to you? Are they meeting those expectations? If hiring is in the forecast, polish up on your interviewing skills. What is your plan for daily follow up? How will you determine activity level of each representative? Where do you need training to meet upper management’s expectations?
2. Evaluate you. What made you a successful sales representative? Was it your technique, your drive, your creativity, or a combination of all of the above? The greatest predictor of future success is past success. The things you did to build your business and approach potential customers, along with the disciplines that you set for yourself, can produce the same results. Common traits that I have seen in high producers are aggressiveness, an immediate ability to build rapport, excellent communication skills to the point that they clearly know what a customer is thinking at any given moment, and an unwillingness to accept a “no.” What traits does each member of your new team portray? What will you do to train your people to “sell” in a way that utilizes those traits? Hold your new team to the same expectations.
3. Get to know your people. Put all personal knowledge and friendships aside and get to know your people. If you know what drives them and have assessed their sales skills, you are in the best position to train them and guide them to the next level. This means, within the first few weeks of being a sales manager, get out on the road or listen closely by the telephone to how your sales representatives handle a sales call. Ultimately, this objective assessment is what will earn their respect and see you as a manager versus a peer. The key will be to maintain this level of professionalism.
4. Hold weekly meetings. Perhaps a weekly meeting wasn’t on your agenda. However, if you are looking to track progress, assign goals, and motivate, a weekly meeting can accomplish all of these. Schedule a weekly meeting, and consistently follow through. Agenda items might include: Company and department update, product/service training with a specific focus, objections role-playing, field challenges, forecasting appointments/sales within that week.
5. Train. Explaining a sales technique to your team may get a lot heads shaking up and down, but will never produce the results you want. The most effective way to train is to hold training sessions at your weekly meeting. Provide them with a written outline of how a task should be performed, demonstrate the process you would like them to imitate, and then have them role-play the process. This structure affords them the opportunity to practice the steps before an interaction with a customer. This builds confidence. It is also important that you follow up at the next meeting. Ask them: Based on our last training session on handling objections, how did it work in the field. If they have had success, it’s a feather in your cap. If they have stumbled through the process, you have an opportunity to retrain.
6. Be patient with your team. One of the biggest lessons I have learned in life is that very few people operate at the same pace as you. As a sales representative, no one could stop you, however, as a sales manager, patience must become one of your most recognized qualities by your sales representatives. They may not learn as quickly or put the sales skills you have outlined into practice as quickly or get results as quickly as you, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t be successful. I have seen sales representatives turn a corner to consistent success in a heartbeat. Just be consistent with them and believe they can do it.
7. Don’t expect results from behind your desk. You must get out in the field. Too often I see sales managers get caught up in the day-to-day activities in the office rather than spend the time in the field with their sales representatives. Remember, this is the place you can assess their skills as well as motivate. Expect to spend at least ½ of your time in the field with your sales representatives. Incorporate appointments as well as cold calling into that time and track their results.
8. Expect weekly reports. The only way to assess the outcome of your month is to assess what is happening. This will not only present the opportunity to tackle any challenges your sales representatives may be up against in closing a sale, but you will be able to forecast future months activity. Weekly reports should include specifically: 1. Appointment names/times; prospecting activities-days/times; results; follow-up; and management assistance. If you don’t expect weekly reports and are only interested in what happens in a “day,” you are setting yourself up for failure. Plan for success.
About Gail Kasper:
Mid-1998, Gail Kasper started her business from a small one-bedroom apartment, with no money and no clients. Today, Gail is the host of the late-night television show Raw Reality, one of the nation's leading speakers, author, Top 1% Club Mentor, advice columnist, Certified Fitness Trainer, Ms. Continental America 2008, and the creator of SAD-T™ (Systematic Attitude Development- Technique™). A former Contributing Editor to Success Magazine with the "Ask Gail" column and host of the "Ask Gail" segment on the Comcast morning show, Gail is the author of her self-help autobiography Another Day Without A Cage: My Breakthrough From Self-Imprisonment To Total Empowerment and the self-help parable Unstoppable: 6 Easy Steps To Achieve Your Goals. With national media appearances that include Inside Edition, The Today Show, FOX Business News, and Oprah and Friends, Gail has earned the ranking of an in-demand national media personality who has been the topic of discussion on Regis and Kelly. Also, the current host of the Philadelphia Visitors Channel, she has also made numerous appearances on network affiliates that include ABC, FOX, CW11, Comcast, and CBS, where she co-hosted the Emmy award- winning America's TVJobNetwork. www.gailkasper.com
This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit gailkasper.com.