Cptr10_Cover.jpg

CHAPTER 10: LEVERAGING SALES MANAGEMENT COMPENTENCIES TO HIRE AND DEVELOP SALES MANAGERS

Sales leaders face a challenging dilemma when promoting or hiring a sales manager. You’ve probably seen and heard many cases where the best sales people get promoted into management. However, that doesn’t always work out so well. Wayne Gretzky was the greatest hockey player of all time but not the best coach. The same was true for Isiah Thomas, Pete Rose, Bart Starr and Diego Maradona in their respective sports.

If you don’t always promote an elite performer, who do you select? Do you promote an average seller or hire an outsider who isn’t familiar with the nuances of your business? It’s a difficult decision, one that can make or break the performance of a sales team.

It’s hard to know the answer until you understand each candidate at a deeper level, along with how they fit an ideal profile of a good sales manager for your organization. Picking the “best” candidate depends on how well you define what a “good” sales manager looks like for your team, validate that definition and apply the model consistently in sales management selection and development.

Cptr10_TopPlayers.jpg

While there is a diversity of competencies and skills in the management ranks within organizations, there are certain characteristics that all effective sales managers must possess. These common characteristics include:

#1 THE DISCIPLINE TO MANAGE SYSTEMATICALLY
Cptr10_1_Discipline.jpg
The most effective sales managers use a systematic approach. They establish a routine for inspection, coaching and conduct pipeline and opportunity reviews regularly. Most of these managers are former sales people who achieved their numbers consistently by developing, perfecting and executing sales with a high degree of discipline.

 

 

#2 THE DESIRE TO HELP OTHERS INPROVE
Cptr10_2_Desire.jpgSales managers must also have the will to coach and develop others. Notice that we say “will”, not necessarily “skill”. Some competencies can be more easily trained and learned than others. You can train managers in coaching skills but if they are not naturally inclined to coach, they will not apply those skills effectively.

 

 

#3 THE COURAGE TO ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS
Cptr10_3_Courage.jpgCourage is another important trait that effective sales managers need. They must have the courage to ask tough questions about opportunities that may create discomfort. They will either result in a “happy-eared” sales person or cause them to walk away from a deal because it doesn’t meet the minimum qualification criteria. 

A good sales manager needs courage to confront challenges in the sales process. Courage is very difficult to train, especially since developing the self-confidence to cope with risk and uncertainty comes only with experience. However, a good sales manager can help a sales person develop courage by creating the conditions where “failing well” is accepted without criticism. 

Identifying the competencies and attributes of sales managers can be especially challenging because a manager’s role can vary significantly from organization to organization. There is no one universal list of sales-related competencies that will define the perfect sales manager. Each organization must determine what a “good” sales manager looks like.

To that end, it helps to have a selection of possible competencies and attributes from which to develop a tailored profile. Your sales manager role(s) will most likely only use a subset of the competencies included in this list. However, this profile should provide some useful ideas for capturing the characteristics of ideal sales managers for your organization. You can then use this profile as a standard for evaluating potential management candidates.

 

SALES MANAGER COMPETENCIES & ATTRIBUTES LIST

Reprinted with the permission of Sales Performance International (www.spisales.com)


Accessing Decision-Makers
Uses solution value and vision established with others in the organization to gain access to decision - makers. 

Adaptability
Explores new ways of doing things and learns from mistakes. Is open to change and is resilient when obstacles are encountered. Remains effective when experiencing major changes in work tasks or the work environment.

Business Acumen
Translates business strategy into operational reality. Demonstrates a strong understanding of basic business operations and key organizational systems, processes, departments and functions. Understands the role and interrelationship of each organizational function.

Knowledge of Capability
Understands how capabilities provided by the seller’s organization help solve customer business issues.

Coaching & Developing
Helps sellers identify and address performance gaps.

Communication
Speaks and writes in a clear, logical and grammatically-correct manner, both in formal and informal situations. Clearly conveys information and ideas verbally and in writing to teammates, managers and customers.  Communicates effectively with all levels within the seller and customer organizations. Tailors communications to the needs and characteristics of the audience. Provides guidance to others for leveraging the best practices of communication.

Competitive Selling
Evaluates competitive opportunities and executes appropriate strategies and tactics to win.

Consultative Sales Conversation
Can conduct a dialogue between salesperson and customer where the salesperson asks questions to learn about customer needs before discussing product.  The sales person and customer should jointly agree on a solution, which is positioned based on the customer’s needs and language.

Courage
Effectively navigates his/her team through change and leads by example.

Critical Thinking
Can apply complex concepts, develop creative solutions or adapt previous solutions in new ways for breakthrough thinking in the field.

Create Vision
Provides context that connects the work of individuals and teams with the broader strategic intent of the organization.

Customer Focus
Has the desire and willingness to discover, address and meet the needs of both internal and external customers. This is to build strong working relationships and provide consistently high levels of service.

Demand Creation
Creates and uses business development messaging for generating demand, providing thought leadership and stimulating interest.

Delivers Results
Can be depended on to do a good job and consistently come through when needed. Follows through on commitments and consistently meets deadlines. Prioritizes and effectively performs multiple tasks simultaneously.

Develop Others
Provides on-going feedback and coaching to his / her teammates. Provides honest and direct feedback to others. Inspires and challenges others to reach their full potential. Recognizes and rewards the performance of his / her teammates.

Entrepreneurial
Easily adapts to and deals with change. Meets customer needs by providing innovative or unique solutions.

Financial Acumen
Uses financial documents to build situational knowledge of the customer’s business and identifies the customer’s business and strategy initiatives. Communicates the value of solving a business issue in financial terms as most important to the customer. Translates business strategy into operational reality. Provides guidance to others for interpreting and leveraging financial documents.

Forecasting
Based on a variety of inputs, accurately predicts future sales results and / or commitments by time period. 

Industry Knowledge
Understands the customer’s industry, changes and trends.

Initiative
Does more than is required or expected in the job. Is action-oriented in order to grasp opportunities and address issues. Applies the ability to look ahead, anticipate events and take action now to shape the future.

Innovation
Explores new ways of doing things and learns from mistakes. Remains effective when experiencing major changes in work tasks or the work environment. Embraces change and seeks opportunities to improve processes and / or service. Facilitates the implementation and acceptance of change within the workplace. Foresees obstacles and opportunities, and generates breakthrough ideas. Offers new ideas and suggestions for improving performance and work requirements.

Inspire Others
Provides the motivation for others to develop the will to achieve goals and / or overcome challenges.

Integrity
Demonstrates a commitment to ethical values and ensures that actions are fair, open and honest.

Leadership
Provides inspiration, clarity and direction through a compelling vision of the future. Ensures that those who are led work together and are provided with the required resources and motivational support.

Learning Orientation
Proactively identifies opportunities for individual growth and departmental improvement. Seeks opportunities for continual learning and personal, professional growth. Is receptive to feedback and constructive criticism.

Lives Our Values
Exhibits a willingness to commit to the organization and invest time and best efforts in working toward the accomplishment of organizational goals. Ensures that the organization’s values and standards of performance are consistently upheld. Nurtures commitment to organizational vision and goals.

Managing Change
Embraces and champions change by helping others understand the value of the change and its impact on them.  Helps identify the elements of managing change and executes change initiatives.

Managing Others
Holds others accountable for high performance. Makes each individual feel his / her work is important. Effectively organizes people and activities. Attracts, develops and retains talented individuals. Clearly and comfortably delegates both routine and important tasks and decisions.

Managing Resources
Allocates resources to organizational initiatives in a way that maximizes the likelihood of goal attainment.

Negotiating
Leverages value to negotiate and reach a final agreement that provides mutual value for a seller’s and customer’s organizations.

Networking / Relationship Building
Establishes new contacts through events, external organizations, professional activities and social media platforms. Identifies important contacts with whom to develop relationships within key accounts. Proactively identifies ways to increase the value of relationships for both parties. Ensures existing relationships are maintained and nurtured. Leverages professional brand or reputation to influence trends, discussions or opinions as a leader.

Objection Handling
Addresses customer objections by following a consultative conversation process: listening to objections, asking clarification questions, confirming understanding of the issue, addressing the issue and checking for customer agreement to resolution.

Opportunity Pre-Call Planning
Prepares for customer meetings through research and development of a plan for the meeting.

Opportunity Qualification
Applies guiding standards in making opportunity engagement and prioritization decisions.

Partner Account Planning
Analyzes the partner account to identify potential for growing the business, strengthening relationships and improving partner sales and satisfaction.

Personal Accountability
Takes personal accountability for getting things done. Is attentive to detail and accuracy. Learns and adheres to all organizational policies, procedures, regulatory standards and organization values. Acts with the best interests of the organization and team in mind. Accepts responsibility for failures and successes. Takes ownership of actions and strives to do the job right the first time.

Planning & Organizing
Establishes courses of action for self and others to ensure that work is completed efficiently and business goals are achieved.

Pipeline Management
Ensures that sales pipelines are full and that opportunities within each pipeline close in a timely fashion.

Problem / Need Identification
Identifies business drivers for change within a targeted market, prospect or opportunity.

Problem Solving & Decision-Making
Identifies and solves problems by understanding the situation, seeking additional information, developing and weighing alternatives, and choosing the most appropriate course of action given the circumstances.

Risk Management
Leverages sales techniques to successfully address a buyer’s concern, insuring that a proposed solution will be effective, provide ROI and deliver business success.

Sales Messaging & Positioning
Develops and delivers sales messages / presentations that engage the audience and clearly position a solution to a customer business issue.

Sales Planning
Analyzes their area of responsibility (customer, partner or territory) to identify potential for growing the business, strengthening relationships and improving sales and satisfaction.

Sales Process Adherence
Uses the established sales process to qualify, communicate the status of, and manage opportunities.

Self-Awareness
Understands personal strengths, weaknesses and limits. Proactively identifies opportunities for individual growth and departmental improvement. Seeks opportunities for continual learning and personal professional growth. 

Situational Knowledge
Understands the customer’s industry, job roles, areas of responsibility and common business issues.

Social Selling
Uses social media tools to expand the seller’s knowledge, interacting with and influencing customers and prospects.

Strategic Account Planning
Analyzes the account to identify potential for growing the business, strengthening relationships and improving customer satisfaction.

Strategic Thinking
Takes into account resources, constraints and organizational values when establishing direction for the team. Quickly identifies key issues relevant to achieving long-term organizational goals. Has a clear vision for the business, operation or team. Ensures that the organization’s vision and values are at the forefront of strategic decision-making.

Teamwork / Collaboration
Works with others to share information and achieve goals. Coordinates efforts with applicable stakeholders to ensure awareness, share information and provide updates until completion. Works towards goals that benefit the sales team / partner / customer relationship, which includes contributing ideas and participating appropriately. Resolves conflicts, confrontations and disagreements positively and constructively. Fosters an environment that emphasizes knowledge-sharing and group participation. Uses the best practices to mentor others on collaboration.

Technical Skills
Stays current with new technology enhancements and functionality used the by seller organization and customers. Uses technology to engage and communicate with customers (i.e., social media tools, marketing automation tools). Uses technology to demonstrate business impact, value analysis (i.e., value calculators, advanced spreadsheets) and to improve collaboration (i.e., DropBox, SharePoint, WebEx, Skype). Models, leads and mentors others in the use of technology for sales activities.

Territory Planning
Identifies and pursues accounts within a territory based on business potential.

Value Creation
Can quantify the impact of solving a customer’s business issue through capabilities provided by the seller.

Work Ethic / Attitude
Treats others with courtesy, honesty and respect. Shows up for scheduled work on time and prepared. Possesses a positive “can do” attitude at work. Exhibits a willingness to commit to the organization, investing time and best efforts in working toward the accomplishment of organizational goals.

 

Sales leaders face a challenging dilemma when promoting or hiring a sales manager. You’ve probably seen and heard many cases where the best sales people get promoted into management. However, that doesn’t always work out so well. Wayne Gretzky was the greatest hockey player of all time but not the best coach. The same was true for Isiah Thomas, Pete Rose, Bart Starr and Diego Maradona in their respective sports.

If you don’t always promote an elite performer, who do you select? Do you promote an average seller or hire an outsider who isn’t familiar with the nuances of your business? It’s a difficult decision, one that can make or break the performance of a sales team.

It’s hard to know the answer until you understand each candidate at a deeper level, along with how they fit an ideal profile of a good sales manager for your organization. Picking the “best” candidate depends on how well you define what a “good” sales manager looks like for your team, validate that definition and apply the model consistently in sales management selection and development.

Cptr10_TopPlayers.jpg

While there is a diversity of competencies and skills in the management ranks within organizations, there are certain characteristics that all effective sales managers must possess. These common characteristics include:

#1 THE DISCIPLINE TO MANAGE SYSTEMATICALLY

Cptr10_1_Discipline.jpgThe most effective sales managers use a systematic approach. They establish a routine for inspection, coaching and conduct pipeline and opportunity reviews regularly. Most of these managers are former sales people who achieved their numbers consistently by developing, perfecting and executing sales with a high degree of discipline.

 

 

 

#2 THE DESIRE TO HELP OTHERS INPROVE

Cptr10_2_Desire.jpgSales managers must also have the will to coach and develop others. Notice that we say “will”, not necessarily “skill”. Some competencies can be more easily trained and learned than others. You can train managers in coaching skills but if they are not naturally inclined to coach, they will not apply those skills effectively.

 

 

#3 THE COURAGE TO ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

Cptr10_3_Courage.jpgCourage is another important trait that effective sales managers need. They must have the courage to ask tough questions about opportunities that may create discomfort. They will either result in a “happy-eared” sales person or cause them to walk away from a deal because it doesn’t meet the minimum qualification criteria. 

A good sales manager needs courage to confront challenges in the sales process. Courage is very difficult to train, especially since developing the self-confidence to cope with risk and uncertainty comes only with experience. However, a good sales manager can help a sales person develop courage by creating the conditions where “failing well” is accepted without criticism. 

Identifying the competencies and attributes of sales managers can be especially challenging because a manager’s role can vary significantly from organization to organization. There is no one universal list of sales-related competencies that will define the perfect sales manager. Each organization must determine what a “good” sales manager looks like.

To that end, it helps to have a selection of possible competencies and attributes from which to develop a tailored profile. Your sales manager role(s) will most likely only use a subset of the competencies included in this list. However, this profile should provide some useful ideas for capturing the characteristics of ideal sales managers for your organization. You can then use this profile as a standard for evaluating potential management candidates.

 

SALES MANAGER COMPETENCIES & ATTRIBUTES LIST

Reprinted with the permission of Sales Performance International (www.spisales.com)


Accessing Decision-Makers
Uses solution value and vision established with others in the organization to gain access to decision - makers. 

Adaptability
Explores new ways of doing things and learns from mistakes. Is open to change and is resilient when obstacles are encountered. Remains effective when experiencing major changes in work tasks or the work environment.

Business Acumen
Translates business strategy into operational reality. Demonstrates a strong understanding of basic business operations and key organizational systems, processes, departments and functions. Understands the role and interrelationship of each organizational function.

Knowledge of Capability
Understands how capabilities provided by the seller’s organization help solve customer business issues.

Coaching & Developing
Helps sellers identify and address performance gaps.

Communication
Speaks and writes in a clear, logical and grammatically-correct manner, both in formal and informal situations. Clearly conveys information and ideas verbally and in writing to teammates, managers and customers.  Communicates effectively with all levels within the seller and customer organizations. Tailors communications to the needs and characteristics of the audience. Provides guidance to others for leveraging the best practices of communication.

Competitive Selling
Evaluates competitive opportunities and executes appropriate strategies and tactics to win.

Consultative Sales Conversation
Can conduct a dialogue between salesperson and customer where the salesperson asks questions to learn about customer needs before discussing product.  The sales person and customer should jointly agree on a solution, which is positioned based on the customer’s needs and language.

Courage
Effectively navigates his/her team through change and leads by example.

Critical Thinking
Can apply complex concepts, develop creative solutions or adapt previous solutions in new ways for breakthrough thinking in the field.

Create Vision
Provides context that connects the work of individuals and teams with the broader strategic intent of the organization.

Customer Focus
Has the desire and willingness to discover, address and meet the needs of both internal and external customers. This is to build strong working relationships and provide consistently high levels of service.

Demand Creation
Creates and uses business development messaging for generating demand, providing thought leadership and stimulating interest.

Delivers Results
Can be depended on to do a good job and consistently come through when needed. Follows through on commitments and consistently meets deadlines. Prioritizes and effectively performs multiple tasks simultaneously.

Develop Others
Provides on-going feedback and coaching to his / her teammates. Provides honest and direct feedback to others. Inspires and challenges others to reach their full potential. Recognizes and rewards the performance of his / her teammates.

Entrepreneurial
Easily adapts to and deals with change. Meets customer needs by providing innovative or unique solutions.

Financial Acumen
Uses financial documents to build situational knowledge of the customer’s business and identifies the customer’s business and strategy initiatives. Communicates the value of solving a business issue in financial terms as most important to the customer. Translates business strategy into operational reality. Provides guidance to others for interpreting and leveraging financial documents.

Forecasting
Based on a variety of inputs, accurately predicts future sales results and / or commitments by time period. 

Industry Knowledge
Understands the customer’s industry, changes and trends.

Initiative
Does more than is required or expected in the job. Is action-oriented in order to grasp opportunities and address issues. Applies the ability to look ahead, anticipate events and take action now to shape the future.

Innovation
Explores new ways of doing things and learns from mistakes. Remains effective when experiencing major changes in work tasks or the work environment. Embraces change and seeks opportunities to improve processes and / or service. Facilitates the implementation and acceptance of change within the workplace. Foresees obstacles and opportunities, and generates breakthrough ideas. Offers new ideas and suggestions for improving performance and work requirements.

Inspire Others
Provides the motivation for others to develop the will to achieve goals and / or overcome challenges.

Integrity
Demonstrates a commitment to ethical values and ensures that actions are fair, open and honest.

Leadership
Provides inspiration, clarity and direction through a compelling vision of the future. Ensures that those who are led work together and are provided with the required resources and motivational support.

Learning Orientation
Proactively identifies opportunities for individual growth and departmental improvement. Seeks opportunities for continual learning and personal, professional growth. Is receptive to feedback and constructive criticism.

Lives Our Values
Exhibits a willingness to commit to the organization and invest time and best efforts in working toward the accomplishment of organizational goals. Ensures that the organization’s values and standards of performance are consistently upheld. Nurtures commitment to organizational vision and goals.

Managing Change
Embraces and champions change by helping others understand the value of the change and its impact on them.  Helps identify the elements of managing change and executes change initiatives.

Managing Others
Holds others accountable for high performance. Makes each individual feel his / her work is important. Effectively organizes people and activities. Attracts, develops and retains talented individuals. Clearly and comfortably delegates both routine and important tasks and decisions.

Managing Resources
Allocates resources to organizational initiatives in a way that maximizes the likelihood of goal attainment.

Negotiating
Leverages value to negotiate and reach a final agreement that provides mutual value for a seller’s and customer’s organizations.

Networking / Relationship Building
Establishes new contacts through events, external organizations, professional activities and social media platforms. Identifies important contacts with whom to develop relationships within key accounts. Proactively identifies ways to increase the value of relationships for both parties. Ensures existing relationships are maintained and nurtured. Leverages professional brand or reputation to influence trends, discussions or opinions as a leader.

Objection Handling
Addresses customer objections by following a consultative conversation process: listening to objections, asking clarification questions, confirming understanding of the issue, addressing the issue and checking for customer agreement to resolution.

Opportunity Pre-Call Planning
Prepares for customer meetings through research and development of a plan for the meeting.

Opportunity Qualification
Applies guiding standards in making opportunity engagement and prioritization decisions.

Partner Account Planning
Analyzes the partner account to identify potential for growing the business, strengthening relationships and improving partner sales and satisfaction.

Personal Accountability
Takes personal accountability for getting things done. Is attentive to detail and accuracy. Learns and adheres to all organizational policies, procedures, regulatory standards and organization values. Acts with the best interests of the organization and team in mind. Accepts responsibility for failures and successes. Takes ownership of actions and strives to do the job right the first time.

Planning & Organizing
Establishes courses of action for self and others to ensure that work is completed efficiently and business goals are achieved.

Pipeline Management
Ensures that sales pipelines are full and that opportunities within each pipeline close in a timely fashion.

Problem / Need Identification
Identifies business drivers for change within a targeted market, prospect or opportunity.

Problem Solving & Decision-Making
Identifies and solves problems by understanding the situation, seeking additional information, developing and weighing alternatives, and choosing the most appropriate course of action given the circumstances.

Risk Management
Leverages sales techniques to successfully address a buyer’s concern, insuring that a proposed solution will be effective, provide ROI and deliver business success.

Sales Messaging & Positioning
Develops and delivers sales messages / presentations that engage the audience and clearly position a solution to a customer business issue.

Sales Planning
Analyzes their area of responsibility (customer, partner or territory) to identify potential for growing the business, strengthening relationships and improving sales and satisfaction.

Sales Process Adherence
Uses the established sales process to qualify, communicate the status of, and manage opportunities.

Self-Awareness
Understands personal strengths, weaknesses and limits. Proactively identifies opportunities for individual growth and departmental improvement. Seeks opportunities for continual learning and personal professional growth. 

Situational Knowledge
Understands the customer’s industry, job roles, areas of responsibility and common business issues.

Social Selling
Uses social media tools to expand the seller’s knowledge, interacting with and influencing customers and prospects.

Strategic Account Planning
Analyzes the account to identify potential for growing the business, strengthening relationships and improving customer satisfaction.

Strategic Thinking
Takes into account resources, constraints and organizational values when establishing direction for the team. Quickly identifies key issues relevant to achieving long-term organizational goals. Has a clear vision for the business, operation or team. Ensures that the organization’s vision and values are at the forefront of strategic decision-making.

Teamwork / Collaboration
Works with others to share information and achieve goals. Coordinates efforts with applicable stakeholders to ensure awareness, share information and provide updates until completion. Works towards goals that benefit the sales team / partner / customer relationship, which includes contributing ideas and participating appropriately. Resolves conflicts, confrontations and disagreements positively and constructively. Fosters an environment that emphasizes knowledge-sharing and group participation. Uses the best practices to mentor others on collaboration.

Technical Skills
Stays current with new technology enhancements and functionality used the by seller organization and customers. Uses technology to engage and communicate with customers (i.e., social media tools, marketing automation tools). Uses technology to demonstrate business impact, value analysis (i.e., value calculators, advanced spreadsheets) and to improve collaboration (i.e., DropBox, SharePoint, WebEx, Skype). Models, leads and mentors others in the use of technology for sales activities.

Territory Planning
Identifies and pursues accounts within a territory based on business potential.

Value Creation
Can quantify the impact of solving a customer’s business issue through capabilities provided by the seller.

Work Ethic / Attitude
Treats others with courtesy, honesty and respect. Shows up for scheduled work on time and prepared. Possesses a positive “can do” attitude at work. Exhibits a willingness to commit to the organization, investing time and best efforts in working toward the accomplishment of organizational goals.

 
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