I’ve been leading security industry sales teams since 1983 to record levels of achievement. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about managing sales teams. Here are 18 of the most valuable lessons:
1. It’s not about you. It's about your team and your customers.
2. Be self-aware. Know what you are good at — and know the things you are not so good at.
3. The most important hiring criteria is cultural fit. It doesn’t matter how smart and talented people are — if they don’t fit your work style and culture, it won't work.
4. Hire people that are passionate about helping others. Great salespeople must have a passion for helping people.
5. Push your team to care as much as you do. The more they care, the harder they will work.
6. Inspire your team. Sales is hard work. Inspire your team to persevere, to push forward and to achieve.
7. Always act. Do something. The sure loser every time is doing nothing. Take action.
8. You set the tone, the pace and the expectations. The body (your employees) will follow the head (you) every time.
9. Hold people accountable. Establish, communicate and enforce a non-negotiable set of behavioral standards and expectations for those on your team.
10. Ruffle some feathers. Sometimes you even have to be a jerk. If every day is a happy day, things are too easy, and you aren’t reaching your full potential. Push.
11. Be authentic and transparent. Be consistent in how you present yourself to your team, your supervisors, your customers and others.
12. Know when to move on. Not everyone you hire will work out. Not every account will buy. Don’t hang on to losers or losing tactics — quit them and move on.
13. Cultivate and coach. Be a teacher. Don’t assume people know how to do things. Make calls with your salespeople. Provide honest, actionable feedback.
14. Experience matters — a lot. No matter how smart you or your employees may be, there is no substitute for experience.
15. Less is more. The best sales managers focus on activities that generate revenue; the rest is just noise. Stay out of the way of your people and let them get stuff done.
16. Balance the needs of your business, your customers and your team. If all three are not aligned, you’re in trouble.
17. Execution wins. Don’t defocus your team on execution. Plans mean nothing without proper execution.
18. Have fun every single day. You have one life to live. If it is not fun, change it.