Herminia Ibaraan, an INSEAD professor, published a provocative book arguing that in today’s market if you desire to get better at management you must venture outside your comfort zone. Being stuck in outdated mindsets or ways of doing things will not lead to success.
The message is: to achieve success, managers must learn to pivot – that is do something different rather than just getting better at doing what they are doing.
Although the book was about management leadership in general, we felt the message was particularly important for front-line sales managers. There is little doubt that front-line sales managers are the pivotal job for building an effective sales team. If you find a company with an outstanding sales team, it is likely you will also find a cadre of outstanding sales managers.
So, if you are a sales manager, how do you move from here to there – from being okay to being outstanding? We would suggest that the discipline of asking yourself a set of questions about what is going on is a great first step for making that happen. Here’s a short list:
- What is going on in the buying environment that would impact how we sell?
- How do the changes in the buying environment impact our overall strategy for business development?
- What skill sets does my team need to adapt and adjust to the changes that are occurring?
- How should I prioritize my coaching time?
- How can I optimize the quality of feedback I share with my sales team?
- How can I help my sales team better leverage institutional resources?
- Under what conditions should I participant in sales calls – how does that differ by the individual team member and type of call?
- What can I do specifically for top performers? under-achievers?
- How can I increase the percentage of time my team spends selling to customers? What is the major time sink?
- What can I do to increase the overall motivation of my sales team?
- What is one innovative idea I should try to increase the sales productivity of the team?
- What is the one skill I must get better at?
In Sales, the need for improving management leadership is something that is ever present. However, from time to time the scope and scale of the disruptions in the market are at such a level, the importance of getting management leadership right moves to center stage – this is one of those times.