Today's guest post is by Geoffrey James, an award-winning columnist for Inc.com and the author of the soon-to-be-published book Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.
A while back, the CRM firm Cloud9 Analytics sent me a list of suggestions for sales managers. I thought the suggestions were pretty good, so I added to them to create a list of commandments. Here's my latest version:
- Thou shalt not start the team meeting with criticism. Though thy staff be full of mooncalves and malingerers, starting the meeting with a tirade will only create resentment.
- Thou shalt not treat every deal as equally important. How often hast thou decreed that thy team must prioritize? Follow thine own advice, and stop focusing on deals that will add but few shekels to thy corporate coffer.
- Thou shalt not drill down too far. A sales manager must understand the workings of a crucial deal. Even so, delving into painful detail shows a lack of faith and, worse, wilt make thee, not the rep, responsible for the outcome.
- Thou shalt not repeat thy questions. Curiosity is an admirable trait in a sales manager, but once thou hast had the answer to thy question, ask it not again.
- Thou shalt not arrive unprepared for a meeting. Hast thou not paid a vast treasure for a CRM system? And didst thou not decree that everyone shall use it? Why, then, dost thou refuse to use it thyself?
- Thou shalt not forecast based on hunches. Thou hast seen it all before and probably hath a good idea where the quarter is headed. Even so, thou art not a fortune-teller, so put away thy crystal ball and look instead at the hard data.
- Thou shalt not let a sales meeting run on forever. Before each meeting, send out an agenda with a set amount of time to deal with each issue. Then adhere to thy own decree as if the productivity of the entire team depends on it.
- Thou shalt not tell boring war stories. Thou might wish to share the wisdom thou hast garnished over the years, but thy stories of selling in the olden days are, to thy team, as annoying as nails drawn across a slate.
- Thou shalt not create a scapegoat. Tempting as it may be to foist the sins of the team upon a single individual, criticizing a rep in front of his or her peers makes everyone think thou art the enemy.
- Thou shalt not take credit for thy team’s success. The sales manager must take the blame when things go wrong but none of the credit when things go right. So it has always been and so it will continue.