The Final Word on Sales Manager Success

You cannot achieve sales manager success if you don’t know what it is.

Sales managers need a clear picture in their mind of ideal sales performance and the factors that contribute to it. A floundering sales rep may miss quota for any number of reasons like: personal issues, professional development needs, management style and involvement, lack of resources, territory issues, competitive landscape, and many others.

The sales manager’s job is to objectively analyze each of their sales reps in light of these factors and then create custom coaching plans using that analysis. So, how do we synthesize this into a tangible definition?

Here’s my version of the sales manager goal: 

The goal of a sales manager is to have 100% of their salespeople start, drive, and close sales on their own in order to meet and exceed sales quota consistently. 

Sounds simple enough, right? Defining success is usually simple. Achieving it is something else. 

100% of Their Salespeople 

Whenever sales reps are under their quota, that’s obviously not 100%. That creates a gap. The role of the sales manager is to identify the source of that gap and work to fix it. 

Start, Drive and Close Sales 

This refers to those sales reps that must in engage in lead generation activities. The definition still applies to all sales reps though. If the sales manager, after proper training and ramp up period are complete, must regularly assist the sales rep in achieving their sales goals, then that issues must be identified and resolved. 

Are low sales due to: 

  • Inability to generate leads to build a sufficient pipeline? 
  • Not following the sales process to drive legitimate sales opportunities? 
  • Attempting to close the wrong buyers? 
  • Lack of personal skills to engage the prospect properly (poor listening skills, product and price-focused conversations, manipulative techniques, coming across as desperate, etc.) 

In some sales offices, we find that all the sales reps are quite proficient at starting and driving sales, but struggle with objections, negotiation and closing. When the sales manager has to close deal for sales rep in order for them to hit quota, you don’t have one sales manager with ten reps; you have one rep with 10 secretaries.  

On Their Own 

How involved are you in helping your sales reps achieve their sales quota? Without you, could they do it on their own? Are you closing more and more sales because you’ve justified in your mind “we need the revenue”? These are legitimate questions that are not simple to address. Dependent sales reps can be a challenge to quickly turn into self-sufficient sales reps. With the proper evaluation and coaching, you can build a team of individuals who can achieve quota with your help as a coach… not a closer. 

Meet and Exceed Quota Consistently 

The key word here is consistently. It’s difficult to manage a team that contains inconsistent quota achievers. It can be problematic for forecasting and cash flow. The real work involves identifying performance gaps and taking appropriate steps to eliminate them so the deliverables from your sales team are stabilized with minimal fluctuation. 

Many sales managers, for example, find that the 80/20 rule is alive and well on their teams—20% of their reps consistently carry 80% of the quota. In that case, 80% of the team—whether that’s eight reps out of 10 or 800 of 1,000—need to be evaluated, trained, and coached to get them closer to quota. This is the work of the sales manager. With an eye firmly on the goal, you can make it a reality with time, effort and patience.