Sales Mentoring: What kind of Sales Manager do you want?

What kind of Sales Manager do you want?

(We cover this and other topics in our Sales Mentoring Service)

Four Types of Sales Manager?

A number of the Rainmaker Sales coaches have worked their way up from Sales Person through Sales Manager and to Sales Director. We have also worked with numbers of Sales Managers in many kinds of companies and cultures. We put our heads together and came up with a hypothesis that we think we have seen around four types of Sales Manager. There are many variations but in the main four types.

 1. The “Do as I say” or “Dictator” Manager

This type of sales manager “rules the roost” and “dictates” what should be done.
Listening skills are limited.
A typical response is along the lines of “Do it this way because it has worked this way before”
The advantage of this approach is that people know exactly where they stand.
Rules and company regulations are fully understood and guidelines are adhered to.
The result is that overall the sales team is seen as “well disciplined”.
Not a bad place for a while as a rookie.
People also know that if the rules and guidelines are not adhered to, then discipline will follow.
The major challenge with this “do as I say” approach is that you will find it hard to get them to take little risks. Your opinion may not be valued and ideas may not make it out of the team.
Some more experienced sales people may get frustrated and feel under valued.
These managers may be mirroring behaviour of managers that they had themselves and few have ever been near a management training course.

What to do if you have one of these?

  • Stay if you are happy with little need to be creative.
  • Stay if you are a new sales person and need to learn the ropes
  • Move if you are unhappy being told what to do.
  • If experienced then get promoted out of the group
  • Leave management books around
  • Give the sales manager your ideas so that they become their own and consequently dictated to you!

2. The “Now you see me, now you don’t” Manager.

Often characterised by always having other things to do, these sales managers appear not to like to spend days visiting and working with the sales people.
They seem to attend endless meetings, arrange trips to head office and are apparently more comfortable spending time in front of the computer pouring through sales figures.
A day “in the field” usually is  meeting up late morning, chatting over a cup of coffee then perhaps suffering a visit to one customer before having a “discussion” over lunch and then heading off back to a report or meeting.

This type of manager always seemed to want to keep the mobile on during visits.
“Waiting for an important call” maybe their most favourite saying.

You will get little time spent with you and will get even less coaching and review.
Time is spent either idly chatting or issuing directives, maybe because the manager is uncomfortable listening to your ideas.
Especially if these ideas might bring about change and impact on the manager’s routine!

We think these are what HBR refers to as “Successful” in the article Effective vs Successful Managers  i.e this job is only a stepping stone for them.
They are only going to be in the job for a sort period because they think they have future potential elsewhere in the organisation.  These managers are usually promoted quickly and not given enough training. They cannot spend time coaching because they are stretched with some of them still having visible Head Office projects. Some of them are simply inexperienced and are not able to handle their immediate manager. They jump at every request made by the senior manager, they have to attend every meeting, write every report and answer every voicemail and e-mail in order to keep in the senior manager’s “good books”.

What to do if you have one of these?

  • Move if you are unhappy being just being left to get on with it.
  • Stay if you are happy with autonomy
  • Talk about how training can improve performance
  • Leave “How to Manage your Boss” books around

3. The “Let me Do It” or the “Super Salesperson” Manager

These managers find it tough to let people work for themselves.
They would love to get back into the field and would do as many field visits as possible.
They miss the customer contact and when out with the sales person immediately engage the customer and “take over” the sales call.
Very little coaching will be done and the manager will tell you the best way to do things based on their experience and success. You will see far too much of your manager and when they take over the sales call you will feel that your integrity in the eyes of the customer is being threatened. Sometimes even your customer will feel uncomfortable.

Having said that many Sales People can actually learn by watching this manager operate.
It can help you as the manager has often been a good sales executive
Your Sales may improve as a result of implementing what you observe.

What to do if you have one of these?

  • Stay for a while if you are learning new techniques and skills
  •  Use a Simple Rainmaker meeting Planner to agree roles before you go to see a customer. Give your manager a role but not as a sales person!
  • Get promoted if you are an experienced sales person and have mastered the sales process but remember you can usually learn something from everyone

4. The Coaching Manager.

The Coaching Manager takes time with his or her people.
Field visits are planned in advance.
Agreements as to what each person wants to achieve out the day are reached and objectives are set and reviewed.
Time is taken to plan good quality sales calls and time is also put aside in order to discuss the business plan.
They also work through any ideas and challenges that you may have.
A full day will be spent whenever possible and the manager will coach the sales person to assist them in identifying their objectives and how best they are going to achieve them.

They will coach you and review how the sales call went and you will get good quality feedback.
You see the coaching manager as supportive but as the manager and not just a “friend”.
You will realise that the manager is giving tough but constructive feedback in order to assist you to development and succeed.
The coaching manager will be skilled in using coaching models such as GROW.

What to do if you have one of these?

  • Stay with them
  • See if you can move with them if they move (Hanging onto shirt tails)
  • Use a Simple Rainmaker meeting Planner to agree roles before you go to see a customer.

Which type of Sales Manager do you have?

Which type do you prefer to work with?

Are there other types we’ve missed out?

Let us know.