Behind every successful team, there is a successful sales manager. This truth exists in sports just as much as it does in sales. Managers may not score the winning touchdown or close a big deal, but they are integral in leading their team to victory. There are several ways this can be done in sports and in sales.

Practice the Right Delivery

In the game of baseball, a pitcher’s delivery is everything. If a hitter can see a pitch coming, then it could quickly turn into a home run or extra base hit. The best pitchers in the game have an excellent delivery, which separates them from ordinary players.

Managers also need to perfect their delivery to ensure the utmost success of their sales team. Communication between sales managers and sales reps should not be overwhelmed by a majority of criticism or bad news. Communication also needs to include positive points.

Managers can congratulate sales reps when they do well. They can also commend their effort and celebrate any accomplishments or positive news. Positive feedback can go a long way, especially when it comes to recognizing someone in front of a larger group. Managers who make it a point to notice the progress of their sales reps have a better chance for success.

There is also a benefit to explaining any kinds of changes in detail. Managers do not have to just dictate policy and procedure changes or guidelines. Instead, they can take the time to show their sales team why such policies and procedures would be beneficial to them. Remember, it's all about the delivery.

Push the Star Player 

In the game of basketball, some of the most successful players are the ones that can play more than one position. Small forwards can sometimes double as shooting guards. They can slash their way to the basket or pull up and hit an outside jumpshot. Allowing those kinds of players to do more than one thing will open up the entire court for the rest of the team.

Successful sales teams have those types of sales reps, ones who can handle a variety of duties. Managers need to recognize those reps and demand more of them. That means raising expectations and setting the bar a bit higher.

And just because those sales reps are the stars of the team, it’s easy for managers to befriend them. However, managers are supposed to push their team and not try to win a popularity contest. Some of the best coaches in sports are the ones that are not the most well liked. Successful coaches have the uncanny ability to push their players and get the most out of them. Sales managers can do the same and they can do it by being effective managers and not best friends.

Team Accountability

Football is one of the ultimate team games. For an offense to move the ball down the field, the quarterback needs protection. That means the offensive line must do its part in keeping defenders out of the backfield. Each offensive lineman has a certain responsibility when it comes to blocking, which makes them all accountable. Each player is expected to do his part in achieving success.

On a sales team, accountability is equally important. Once a sales manager issues instructions, it is important to follow up with sales reps so that they completely understand the scope of their responsibilities.

Managers can also go a step beyond just enforcing a basic understanding. Sales managers can mandate that sales reps log all of their calls. Managers can also make the requirement that their sales team update their daily activities. Sales reps may not welcome this, but it will hold them accountable for completing their daily assignments.

Results are important, but it is performance that achieves results. Managers who focus on the daily behavior of their sales team can spot problem areas as well as recognize what is working. Accountability begins with what happens each and every day.

Make the Right Stops

In the game of hockey, the play of a goalie could easily decide the outcome. It is a goalie’s job to keep the opposing team from scoring. Sales managers can take a few lessons from hockey goalies. Stopping certain behaviors and managerial tactics can lead to success. The key is to know which tactics to stop.

One tactic managers should cease is motivating reps solely with financial rewards. Yes, sales reps do their job in order to make money. However, when that becomes their lone motivator, the team concept becomes lost. Managers need to find ways to ignite their team's passion and development. There are ways that can be done other than the almighty dollar.

Sales managers should also refrain from playing the blame game. When crises develop or things take a wrong turn, try to find solutions instead of blame. Even if emotions are running high, placing blame in the heat of the moment will solve nothing. Replacing blame with a unified effort towards resolution is much more beneficial.

And when sales begin to fall, it is not up to the manager to rescue the team by selling. If managers start developing and following leads, it takes away the primary function of their job, which is to manage. Instead of selling, managers can recruit new talent, coach sales reps and hold the entire team accountable. After all, no matter how bad a hockey team is losing, coaches do not lace up their skates and go out on the ice trying to score goals.

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