- Hire the Best and Brightest. There is no substitute for building a team stacked with top talent. The best Sales Managers know the magical combination of characteristics in top talent: (1) High Drive – you can’t teach this. These are the people who have an innate desire to win. (2) Results Orientation – these are the closers. They are acutely focused on activities that get them to the finish line. (3) Problem Solving Skills – these are the solution oriented folks who always find opportunities to move a situation forward. (4)Optimism – they expect to win, and they do! Finally, (5) They are likable. Others are drawn to them because they are genuine, confident and fun!
- Invest in Training and Development. With everyone. Period. No matter how long they’ve been selling. From your newbies to your veterans. Newbies need direction and support. Veterans can get complacent, bored, even rusty. Make certain that wherever you place them, they have the tools and know-how to be successful. Even a veteran going to a new neighborhood needs time to learn the details of the new area, community and product, and he needs to practice adapting to the new buyer profile.
- Master the Skill of Competitive Community Positioning. You can hire the best sales talent, but if you put them in a community where the pricing and positioning are wrong, they will never succeed. And you risk losing them. Ultimately, it’s the sales manager’s responsibility to ensure the community has the proper positioning and a compelling competitive advantage. The absolute best sales managers collaborate with the sales agent AND division leadership to masterfully devise the positioning which sets everyone up for success.
- Create a Motivating Culture. While the best sales people are intrinsically motivated, it’s amazing what they accomplish when they feel their results are important and genuinely appreciated. So, THANK THEM! Call or visit them personally. Send a note to their home. Recognize them publicly. Additionally, get to know them as individuals. Learn their goals, their purpose, and then focus on helping them achieve them. For example, if it’s important to them to achieve 60 sales for the year to hit the President’s Club, and it’s August 1 and they’re not quite on target, then there’s work to do. Rather than beat them up, or worse, allow them to be defeated, show them you care by sitting down WITH them, analyzing where they are and what they need to do. Together, brainstorm the activities that will help them reach their target. Maybe you agree to release a few new lots. Maybe you can spring for a referral party to help them increase traffic. Your attention and actions are showing them that you care about them and their goals too. That’s a great coach.
- Always Be Coaching. There are teachable moments every day. The best sales managers spend time in the field, even with their stars. They listen. They always catch them doing something right, and tell them. They don’t say “that was great, but…” Instead they say, “that was terrific because…” and share the impact of the behavior. Or, “I like how you said that because….” This is especially important when you see them with a customer and you complement them on a specific skill that leads to sales results. Like asking a masterful discovery question, or a compelling closing question. You better believe they will remember what they said and use it again and again, replicating the positive behavior that gets results.
- Practice Servant Leadership: Leadership is more than a title, it’s a way of thinking. While we all realize who the leader is from the organizational chart, and we know they are the boss, there is significantly greater team success when the leader’s mindset shifts from thinking and acting as if their team “works for the boss” versus realizing that the boss really needs to be “working for the team.” It’s this servant leadership mentality that focuses the leader on helping their team be successful, and on ensuring the team and team members are recognized as the heroes and are not blamed for defeat. It’s this servant leadership mentality that focuses the leader on setting the team up with the right tools to be successful, and then shares the recognition when they are successful. This does not mean that the leader manages all the details, but it does mean that the leader is always looking to see what processes and systems are working and which are not, and fixes them to ensure the team is more efficient, effective and successful.
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