The Sales Manager on Auto-Pilot

This week’s blog comes from Jill Myrick of Meeting to Win, LLC and the Tips for Sales Managers blog.  Meeting to Win provides weekly sales team meeting agendas designed to keep your team equipped to compete and win every week. 

Sales Managers have to juggle so many responsibilities to keep their teams humming along at full performance capacity. If any one of them is not executed effectively, part of their sales engine will falter and cause the entire machine to run inefficiently or worse, crash.

No pressure – right?

What if you could simply avoid most of these problems?

There is a way.  It is a simple operating system that takes a small amount of work on the front end and then … runs on auto-pilot.

Just like a pilot with a pre-flight checklist and a disciplined system, you can operate within a similar system.  The following is a list of management activities – your operating system – to be scheduled in advance.  Committing to this system will put your team on “auto-pilot” so you can focus on the destination.

The sales manager’s operating system covers four main parts: The Manager, The Team, The Customer and The Company. Use the following to-do list, adjust it to your world and go on auto-pilot for a more proactive and successful ride to the top.

You, The Manager:

  • Create a network of your peers (successful sales managers) and commit to having one conversation per week with one person in that network.
  • Think!  Each day schedule some time to think – it’s a big part of what you we’re hired to do.

The Team:

  • Commit to interviewing and networking with one sales candidate every week.  Open territories mean declining sales and neglected customers.
  • Commit to weekly meetings with your sales team.  See our 10 Tips for productive, interactive meetings.
  • Schedule weekly one-on-ones with each member of your team.
  • Whether your company does them or not, commit to quarterly performance reviews with your team.
  • Continually build sales skills on your team through scheduled practice and repetition.
  • As a team, read and discuss one new book about selling or business each quarter.
  • Thank and praise your team regularly.  On your calendar, schedule praise and gratitude.

The Customers:

  • Send thank you notes to your team’s customers every week.
  • Commit to customer days every week.
  • Attend Customer Business Reviews with your reps whenever possible.

The Company:

  • Block out time to complete necessary reports for senior leadership.
  • Filter communication between other departments and your reps.
  • Create a communication system for your own team.
  • Identify and/or create subject matter experts on your team.
  • When you must send emails with random pieces of information, use a coding system in the subject line or set up Outlook rules.

Sales management is a full-time job, one that can be proactive and rewarding when a disciplined operating system is installed.  Putting a system like this in place will allow you and your team to enjoy the ride and all the rewards that come with your destination – success.
Enjoy your flight.

One thought on “The Sales Manager on Auto-Pilot”

  1. What a great recipe for success. I found myself reading this, as a former VP Sales, and checking off the things that I did because I liked to (building skills, weekly meetings) and the things I should have been doing but wasn’t (reporting, interviewing). Whether you do some of these or most of these, what I takeaway is the importance of having a routine and a playbook that helps you stay focused on the people on your team, the customers you serve, the people you report to and the system or infrastructure you are building. It’s not only a full time job but perhaps a job that cannot be done by one individual. In my company, we sell to executives in sales and marketing and are recognizing that the most forward looking companies are elevating the position of Sales Operations to the executive level – VP Sales Enablement. As the selling environments become more challenging for many companies, having a systematic way to manage the organization is, IMHO, essential.

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