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12 Sales Manager Questions Leaders Need to Have Answered

 

Published by : Frederic Lucas

sales manager questions - Prima Resource

 

Hiring or promoting a new sales manager or reviewing a current one? Ultimately, every sales leader needs to answer 12 fundamental questions.

 

The roles and responsibilities of a sales manager are quite different from those of a salesperson. It’s a difficult position, and the data reveals that most sales managers are poorly equipped to handle the job.

 

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To ensure that sales managers are up to the challenge, sales VPs, CEOs and Presidents must turn to sales manager assessments and evaluations.

 

Is the sales manager effective in his or her current environment? Is there room to grow? Which elements of sales management capabilities can be improved upon?

 

These questions and many others are what a sales management evaluation must set out to answer.

The 12 sales manager questions leaders need to answer

What are the current sales management capabilities?

Coaching

Coaching is 50% of a sales manager’s job. The Objective Management Group’s data shows that only 10% of sales managers are efficient coaches. However, it’s the most important element for helping salespeople better themselves and generate more revenue.

 

We’ll discuss this further in the section on coaching.

 

Motivating

How we motivate has changed a lot over the years, but it remains a big part of sales managers’ responsibility towards their salespeople.

 

41% of sale managers are good motivators (OMG data). They can motivate their reps to put greater effort in changing their behavior, to get out of their comfort zone, and give greater significance to their goals.

 

We’ll discuss this further in the section on motivation.

 

Accountability

49% of sales managers can hold their team accountable (OMG Data). Predetermined KPIs are helpful to use as they provide forward-looking, measurable indicators which managers can review on a daily or weekly basis.

 

We’ll discuss this further in the section on accountability.

 

Recruiting

Sales managers should elaborate a procedure which allows for a consistent recruiting process. We should not take for granted that the right people are in the right positions, but instead always be on the lookout for better salespeople. 49% of sales managers can effectively identify and recruit the right players for their team (OMG Data).

 

We’ll discuss this further in the section on recruiting.

 

Sales management skills

Sales management skills are half technical and strategic and half sales management DNA. However, if one is to be greater than the other, productive sales managers must possess greater sales management DNA than sales management skills. Why? Because management skills are easier to improve than management DNA.

 

Sales management DNA

A manager’s DNA needs to be high to support their ability to execute their roles and responsibilities. This includes all their selling and management related strengths.

 

Sales manager time management

These are the tasks which a sales manager must allot time to:

  • Coaching
  • Motivating
  • Measuring performance accountability
  • Recruiting
  • Crisis management
  • Solving internal company issues
  • Solving planning & compensation issues
  • Organization & reorganization
  • Business & product strategy
  • Direct selling

 

Time allotted to salespeople

Sales managers should be careful not to spend more time on paperwork or phone calls, for example, instead of on managing their salespeople. This is a trap which sales managers commonly fall under, much to the detriment of their sales force.

 

Salespeople bring in the business, and so sales managers should prioritize their salespeople.

How motivated is the sales manager and what keeps them motivated?

As stated above, motivation has evolved. We formerly thought motivation simply equaled money, however, this view has evolved to encompass the following motivation types:

  • Altruistic: This type of motivation has recently been observed and published by Objective Management Group (OMG). These sales managers are motivated to serve others, much to their own detriment. This behaviour is difficult to modify and understandingly, these people can’t perform well in sales management.
  • Extrinsic: Managers of this type are motivated by competition, money, reward, and material things. They’re more effective in a shorter and/or more heavily commissioned sales cycle.
  • Intrinsic: This type of salesperson will respond to recognition, personal satisfaction, love of sales management, among other things. They often perform better in a longer and more complex sales cycle.

 

Desire, commitment, and outlook are just some of the elements which impact a sales manager’s motivation.

What is their ability to motivate salespeople?

Since sales motivation and what motivates salespeople has changed in the last 15 years or so, sales managers must adapt and seek out each person’s different reasons to be motivated.

 

The reason that 59% of sales managers can’t motivate their salespeople is that they don’t seek out to understand their personal goals and work objectives. Perhaps they don’t give much importance to self-esteem, etc.

 

The elements that contribute to a manager’s ability to motivate their salespeople include understanding what motivates their salespeople, the manager’s own self-image, and the ability to conduct effective sales meetings.

What is their capability to hold salespeople accountable?

The ability for sales managers to hold their salespeople accountable to measurable, forward-looking indicators is vital. This is especially important with longer sales cycles, as it provides an opportunity for midcourse adjustment.

 

Some of the elements which impact a sales manager’s ability to hold their sales force accountable are combatting mediocrity and not needing their salespeople’s approval.

What is their capability to coach salespeople?

Sales coaching is not only the most important element of sales management, as stated above, it’s also the most difficult competency to perfect. This being the case, not only must a huge amount of time be spent on doing it, much time must also be spent on mastering it.

 

Some factors which contribute to effective coaching include being a flexible thinker, controlling emotions, and not trying to come to the salespeople rescue.

What is their capability to recruit salespeople?

If sales managers can effectively identify, hire, and on-board new salespeople, they can eliminate most management challenges.

 

Sales manager who don’t see the necessity to upgrade their sales force, will most likely not end up with the right people in the right positions.

 

Using the correct criteria and hiring consistently are elements which contribute to a sales manager’s ability to effectively recruit.

Can they shorten their sales cycle?

Of the many factors which impact the sales process, the most significant one is to follow a formal, structured milestone-centric sales process.

 

For example, sales managers who make impulsive purchasing decisions may have a management DNA that support strategies and tactics. This helps their salespeople hurry along the sales process, hence eliminating delays in closing.

 

Similarly, sales managers who ensure that their salespeople thoroughly qualify, will reduce the chances of premature presentations, which cause delayed closing and business loss.

 

Shorter sales cycles usually don’t display the effects of delayed closing or business lost to competitors.

Can they help their salespeople use consultative selling to their advantage?

Sales have changed dramatically since the economic downfall of 2008. The most significant changes are:

  • Reaching prospects has become more challenging;
  • Prospects don’t have the time to meet;
  • Prospects give off greater resistance;
  • Salespeople are consulted later in the client’s sales process;
  • Clients are more price sensitive;
  • Prospects are more financially cautious and conservative;
  • There’s a greater need for the salesperson to differentiate themselves from the competition.

 

Consultative Selling helps salespeople and sales managers circumvent the issues listed above.

 

Consultative sellers sell value and become trusted advisors to their clients. This can only occur after the salesperson has asked enough questions to go as deep as possible into the prospect’s issues. This discussion of opportunities, implications, etc., leads the client to reveal their compelling reasons to buy.

 

To be consultative, not only must salespeople know to ask the good and tough questions, they most equally possess well developed listening skills.

Can they help their salespeople sell value?

Sales managers who focus on competitive pricing, or on having the lowest prices, are not prioritizing value selling.

 

Selling value puts the focus on the salesperson’s, or product’s value, not on pricing. As with consultative selling, selling value is a sure way for your sales force to set themselves apart from the competition.

Can they help their salespeople close?

The ability to close determines whether a sales manager has the attributes to convert qualified opportunities into closable ones, and to determine whether they can coach their salespeople into doing so as well.

 

Deals should be closed at the first possible opportunity and much of the factors which make this happen are the ones we discussed above (consultative selling, qualifying, length of the sales process, etc.)

Can they help their salespeople follow an effective sales process?

We already mentioned the importance of having a customized, milestone-centric sales process. If not, much valuable time is wasted on uninterested prospects, unfavorable outcomes and on opportunities which are unlikely to close, leading to unpredictable and unprofitable results. This also lengthens the sales process, which we don’t want!

 

An effective sales process involves clearly defined milestones, an effective CRM and being able to control the sales process.

Can they help their salespeople effectively use their pipeline to forecast sales?

New opportunities enter the sales pipeline, and lost or won opportunities exit the pipeline. This is a very simple concept with major implications.

 

When conducting sales pipeline reviews, a sales manager will always know whether the number of opportunities in the pipeline is enough to support the salespeople’s goals or quotas. If they effectively qualify, they will improve the accuracy of which they can forecast revenue and project closing dates.

 

Do your salespeople have the qualifying, consultative, and closer competencies? These are the 3 most important elements needed for salespeople to effectively use their pipeline to forecast sales.

Conclusion

To be successful, sales managers must possess both the sales and management skills. In the end, however, having strong management DNA trumps stronger skills and a poor management DNA. It all comes down to which competency can be more easily improved.

 

All these elements can only be determined and identified with the assistance of a concise, sales-specific candidate evaluation, as part of a sales force evaluation or an individual sales management evaluation.

 

Free Sales Candidate Assessment

Frederic Lucas

Having founded Prima Resource in 2007, Frederic has helped hundreds of CEOs, executives and sales reps aim higher and achieve their objectives. Clients know Frederic as the person who will tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. They value his experience, the science that backs his work and the predictability of his observations and advice.

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