Back in the 1980’s I was fortunate enough to have coached both my kids’ baseball teams. That alone would have been worth the price of admission but both teams I coached won the championship once for their age groups. Was it coaching? Maybe 10% of those championships could have reflected on my approach to the kids and my knowledge of baseball. Actually, 10% could be high. What I enjoyed most about coaching, other than being involved with my kids, was seeing the marginal players improve and the average players excel. (Of course. there were a lot of little Johnnies and Sallies who were content to sit in the outfield picking dandelions! God love ’em. You knew that someday these little folks would grow up and succeed. Baseball just wasn’t there thing.)
There is a major parallel between what sports’ coaches do and what sales managers do. Jonathan Farrington says it well. The second paragraph is one I particularly like. Jonathan talks about the need for sales managers to develop other people’s abilities. He also mentions the word “art” in the sentence and that one word explains why sales management is so difficult for a lot of people to get.
Most salespeople (myself included) like the limelight, the recognition, the bonuses that reflect we have succeeded better than other reps. There is nothing quite like standing on the podium, getting the plaque and check and watching other people applause. Now go sit among your peers, knowing that the rep getting the accolades came from your sales region. There aren’t many if any people slapping you on the back saying that you did a great job developing this award-laden salesperson. And they shouldn’t be!
A quality sales manager has to be willing to ply his or her trade, knowing that his or her job is to develop, coach, mentor the salespeople under them. You have to be willing (as a manger) to completely enjoy other people’s success; in fact, you have to revel in it! A good sales manager may very well have been part of the process where a sub-average sales rep rallied to become a star. He or she may have helped a rookie go from anonymity to the award ceremony. The quality sales manager must sit back and smile that he or she was “part” of the process. Their reward is knowing that they had an impact on another individual, which helped that person succeed. If you can’t do that, as a manager, then don’t get into sales management because it will be too painful for you.
But here is the devilishly ironic flip side to the “develop salespeople” coin. If you, as the sales manager do your coaching job the correct way YOU MAKE MORE MONEY, because your reps are making more. It’s not all about smiling on the way to the bank but it is part of it.
The Final Thought: “Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate.” Vince Lombardi