The role of sales manager comes with many responsibilities. You have goals to reach, relationships to build, and accountability for an entire team of sales professionals, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. One of the most effective and often overlooked ways to be a good manager is to lead by example.
Turning yourself into a role model for success can energize and inspire your staff. Your team members, particularly those who are new to your team, will watch and mimic your behaviors, sometimes even subconsciously. As a result, one of the best ways to get your team to demonstrate specific behaviors and attitudes is to take the lead and show them how it's done.
There are many values that can turn a good manager into a great role model. Here are four values that we think are some of the most important ones to practice and master in your professional life as a sales manager:
Are you talking the talk, but not walking the walk? Consistency in your words and actions is imperative for establishing credibility with your team. If you insist that your team meets tight deadlines but often miss them yourself, people will notice and they might conclude that such behavior is acceptable, or worse - that you are engaging in manipulative or dishonest behavior. Hold yourself to the same standard of behavior and work that you expect from your team - doing so will set a good example and earn you the respect and loyalty of the people you manage.
As a sales manager, you bear the final responsibility for your team, but that doesn't mean that each of your team members shouldn't feel empowered to have some degree of authority and autonomy. Properly empowering your team involves a delicate balance between acknowledging that you are ultimately in control of the situation and providing professional guidance so your team members can grow their own skill sets by learning from their mistakes and experiences. Giving your team some authority helps them become better decision makers and partners to their customers, and will motivate them to do their best work by making them feel like an invested stakeholder.
We mentioned earlier the importance of establishing credibility with your team through consistency in your own words and actions - fairness deals with the same concept as applied to different members of your team. Treating your staff with fairness means that all team members are equally bound to the same standards, and all team members are equally accountable. If you treat your staff unfairly, your credibility and reputation as a good manager will be irreparably damaged.
Managing people and being in a leadership role at a company often involves making difficult decisions and having difficult conversations. Effective managers have the courage to say and do things that aren't convenient or pleasant. These can include reprimanding and firing employees, giving constructive feedback, and sharing bad news about sales or project results. Good managers also show courage by pointing out problems and acknowledging their team’s errors along with their successes. The courage to fulfill these obligations with tact and professionalism is one quality that separates good managers from great managers.
There are many ways to define success, but for sales managers and team leaders, any definition that doesn't include these four characteristics is lacking. Being a good role model for your team requires putting consistency, empowerment, fairness, and courage on display every day.
Which values do you think are important to model for a successful sales team? Let us know in the comments below!