“ The right person to lead sales operations is someone who respects both the analysis/design and the process/detail mind-set, who can envision the business and technology future, and who can work with leaders/people across the organization, as well as with external partners, to enable ongoing sales force success.”
Is there a difference between the Head of Sales/sales Manager(SM) and the Front Line Manager (FLM)?
I know that many an eye brows would raise on this controversial question. I am very clear and what I mean is the mind-set and approach to business/people.
More often, we are all ready to criticise the FLMs, their quality, role responsibilities, and behaviours. However, when I meet many Sales Managers leading a team of sales people and line managers at various levels, I often wonder the thin line of difference in terms of their quality, behaviours and managing people.
So, the unasked question is – do you want Head of sales to be Sales Leaders (or Leaders of the sales team) or mere Sales Managers (managing sales).
What is the difference? Almost always, the SMs are managing their sales force, allocating geographical territories, controlling the efforts area, pushing people to perform, hitting the sales numbers by hook or crook in the month end and various myriad tasks that come under the title umbrella.
LEADING the sales team takes on a whole different meaning and with added dimensions. Besides what is mentioned above it involves mentoring people, on/off the job coaching, influencing/inspiring people, supporting and helping them and being a constant cheer leader for them every day.
In short, it is practicing 3Es – Engaging, Empowering and Enabling the sales team day in and day out.
How often have you looked at a SM and said, “He made his people from GOOD to GREAT”, as Jim Collins said.
Having been a Sales head in my career journey, I know for sure that sales management is not an easy business and it is not for the weak hearted. The responsibility involves acting as a cushion between organisational revenue objectives and the sales people who are out on the roads braving the vagaries of weather and the constant rejections/objections they face from the customers. As their Leader and the Head of sales you make sure that they keep going, despite the odds and maximise their success through performance.
It is time the sales managers of today, change their mind-sets and come out the intimidating and negative reinforcement behaviours. These may not work in the long run and will only add to the misery of increasing sales force attrition. Equally important is the need to invest on self-learning/development through books and attending learning & development programs besides developing through work.
As a SM you are not just ‘managing’ them but LEADING them to WIN in a highly competitive environment. In short, you are a SALES LEADER.
This article is authored by Hariram Krishnan. Mr. Krishnan is a Member of Leaders Excellence at Harvard sq, Executive Coach to CEOs, Directors, Senior Managers.
(The views expressed in the article are of the author and need not necessarily be the views of the publisher or its associates)