A reader recently asked me to opine on the most important skill or competency for a sales manager. While there are many factors that could excuse one from pointing to a specific trait e.g. market, geography, complexity of sale, sophistication of the customer, experience of the sales team, etc. I can’t stand a cop-out.
And so my answer is simply Teaching Ability: Specifically, “Curb Side Coaching,” the ability and discipline to offer focused, just-in-time tips that can be acted upon during critical customer meetings and then followed up with specific guidance on what went well and what needs to be developed.
Why is this critical? The ability to selflessly focus on your direct reports and have them methodically improve based on deliberate practice increases the bottom line results for all employees, be they novices or seasoned rock stars.
A quick example: Sales Funnel Management
One of the more common mistakes salespeople make when they navigate the sales funnel is mismanaging their time signature. That is, they spend far too long at the bottom of the funnel. Hyper-focusing on the close makes for a thin middle and ultimately unpredictable peaks and valleys in business won.
A manager who can exemplify, teach, and embed the discipline of properly navigating the funnel can produce dramatic, measureable, and sustainable results for both the individual and the organization.
In case you are wondering, the proper way to navigate the funnel is to quickly move from close activities to dreaded prospecting and customer qualification at the top. Then continue to work the opportunity through the funnel, naturally expanding and refining the mutual win as you move towards close. This tends to flatten the sales curve, optimize your time, and enhances the customer relationship.
Remember, the best teachers also do.
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