Your #1 Priority as Sales Manager (Plus 3 Things to Stop Doing Now)

  • AUTHOR: Mike Weinberg
  • DATE: 08/3/2015

A Sales Manager’s Survival

Editor’s note: This is the second post in a new series devoted to helping new sales managers survive and thrive in their new role. For more essential tips and tactics, sign up for our free email course, The First 90 Days: A Sales Manager Survival Course.  

Everywhere I turn, in all types and size companies, sales managers are overwhelmed and confused while senior executives are often frustrated with both the effectiveness of sales managers and performance of the sales team. Many managers are working harder and longer than ever, yet accomplishing less.

For the sake of protecting the new sales manager and potentially rescuing the experienced sales leader who’s fallen into this trap, let me repeat this strong exhortation from the kickoff post for this series:

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Your job as the sales leader is to ensure your sales team produces results, not to do work. You are not judged on the amount of work you do, the number of emails you send, or meetings you attend. Your job is to get your sales team to produce results. Period.

Most people would not argue with that premise. The problem, however, is that the majority of sales managers, executives and other employees forget this truth. There is always work to do, and, unfortunately, that work often distracts or keeps sales leaders from their primary job. This work takes many forms, but often falls into these three buckets.

3 Ways Sales Managers Are Made (And Make Themselves) Completely Useless

1) Companies bury their sales managers in unimaginable amounts of crap

I’m continuously amused by the volume of non-sales leadership meetings sales managers are invited to attend. Strategy sessions. Executive Committee meetings. Production Planning meetings. Conference calls. And how about the numbers of emails most sales managers are required to plow through on a daily basis?

I recently worked with a national sales director who regularly received 200-plus emails per day (many requiring a response). Between inbox management and all the non-sales meetings he was supposed to attend, there was almost no time for the high-payoff sales management activities that I was charged with helping him master.

2) Too many sales managers act like the Firefighter-in-Chief

It’s not just companies burying the sales manager. Many sales leaders do this to themselves. They look for opportunities to grab the fire hose and save the day.

Whether it’s an operations, quality control, or customer service issue, the manager is quick to take off his/her battle helmet to don the fire chief’s helmet instead of remaining laser-focused on Job #1 (leading the sales team into battle). He/she gets distracted trying to be a good corporate citizen and “helping” out other areas when there’s a problem. And, when not helping other departments, he/she likes to jump in the fray to do their salespeople’s jobs for them, too.

3) Sales managers spend an inordinate amount of time playing desk/CRM/email jockey

Somehow, some way, in many organizations, sales management has devolved into a desk job where managers spend hours upon hours with their eyeballs glued to CRM screens and incorrectly think that sending a high volume of email to their reps equates to leading the team.

Why are managers overwhelmed, executives frustrated, and sales results not what they should be? Because all of this seemingly good and innocent work is preventing managers from getting to the precious few high-value, high-payoff activities that move the revenue needle! It’s madness.

Focus on Your #1 Priority and Stop Doing, Delegate, or Streamline Everything Else

I don’t care if you’re spending 60 hours per week plowing through tons of meetings, emails, and administrative duties; if you’re not having results and pipeline-focused 1:1 sessions with each of your people, you’re not leading productive sales team meetings, and you’re not working in the field (or alongside) coaching your team members (all topics we’ll address later on in this series), then you are investing your time and energy on the wrong things — things that do not drive new revenue.

There is no prize for working an obscene number of hours, running from meeting to meeting like a madman, or for reading and sending more emails than you can count. (Tweet this)

My hope is that this post serves as a wakeup call and causes you to pause. If you’re serious about maximizing your value from this series and implementing the sales leadership best practices that Dave Brock and I will be sharing, you must grapple with the reality that to thrive in sales management, it’s critical that you regain control of your calendar and your days.

In the next installment of this series, Dave will move us from theory to tactics as he dives into the all important topic of talent management.

Miss an earlier post in the series? Go back and catch up below:

Mike Weinberg’s article, “Your #1 Priority as Sales Manager (Plus 3 Things to Stop Doing Now)” was originally posted on OpenView Labs.

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